Welcome to carbonstories.org. On this site you can learn about Michael Johnson-Chase and follow my blogs. With some exceptions, this site follows "theme based" cycling tours focusing on social and climate related issues. Slowed down observations of the world over days, weeks and months at 10 to 15 miles an hour can reveal a depth and quality of understanding about our environment often missed by faster modes of travel.

GRID Tour Finale, NYC to DC

GRID Tour Finale, NYC to DC

To donate to GRID Alternatives through Climate Ride, please go here

The GRID Alternatives Trans-American Cycling Tour, 2016, will be closing itself out in a matter of weeks, so the clock is ticking on time left to make a contribution!

I just finished the final 600-mile ride of the tour with a large group of other riders as we rode from NYC to the mall in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Then after visiting the Mid- Atlantic GRID office, I rode back solo back to New York City. My final stats now include being away from home for 125 days, cycling 95 of those days, traveling over 5800 miles and climbing over 223,000 feet. Along the way, I have raised over $5000 for GRID Alternatives and Climate Ride. That may not seem like much money, but many of those contributions are quite small. Along the way, I talked to hundreds of people about climate change and effective strategies for addressing it while building our economy in a sustainable direction. So please don't underestimate how much sweat equity is in those very hard earned dollars! 

If you haven’t contributed to this effort yet, I would sincerely appreciate it if you would!  No amount is too little! And it's easy - visit my fundraising page where you can make a tax-deductible donation online by using the 'Support Me' link in this email. And if you have already contributed, you have my deep appreciation! If you would like to know more, shoot me back an email or check out the Climate Ride website.

But let me tell you a little more. The final ride - Climate Ride NYC-DC 2016 - was an extraordinary experience! While I knew the vision of GRID Alternatives was close to my heart, I wasn't expecting also to fall in love with the mission and vision of Climate Ride. The Climate Ride people run an intelligent and lean operation, using only six staff to raise almost a $million yearly for climate change efforts. And in the process, they provide life changing experience for their participant riders. Cycling long distance is not easy, yet I met so many other cyclists who - like myself - are worried about how climate change will affect the most vulnerable of us. They were all excited to learn about Climate Ride, GRID Alternatives and the work of others addressing climate change, and how to help low-income homeowners become more energy independent while providing job training for clean energy jobs. 

Finally, I was able to visit the Mid-Atlantic GRID Washington, DC regional office, meet with their enthusiastic staff, and do some volunteer outreach before I returned home to NYC - where I will soon make a similar connection at the New York Tri-State GRID Alternatives office in the Bronx. In the meantime, GRID Mid-Atlantic office wrote an article about my visit, which you can read here.  Prior GRID newsletter features are listed here and here and a Climate Ride newsletter feature is listed here

Finally, you can support the Climate Ride “GRID Alternatives Trans-American Cycling Tour”, 2016 by going to my Climate Ride Fundraising Page here

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!

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The Climate Ride Tour

September 17, 2016 - Day 1: Day 1: 45 miles to Princeton, NJ. We rode 1.7 miles in New York City to the scenic and comfortable Highlands ferry where we jetted 45 minutes to Atlantic Highlands, NJ. Then, after lunch, we rode through beautiful back roads farmland of NJ to Princeton where we camped at the YMCA. 

September 18, Day 2: Princeton, NJ to Camp Sakanac, Spring City, PA. Beautiful ride into PA, Washington Crossing at the Delaware River, lunch stop in Doylestown, sensational ice cream rest stop at Merrymead Farm, Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville and riding the last 9 miles foggy and dehydrated. Opted to sleep in cabins that night instead of pitch a tent because of rain in the forecast overnight.

September 19, Day 3: Woke up to pouring rain, thunder, and lightning. After a 2 hour delay, the group gets clearance to start about 10 am. We have some distance to travel and start some serious climbing. Fabulous lunch by Climate Ride staff in New Holland, PA and afternoon riding in beautiful Amish country. There's an afternoon stop in Strasburg and finally arrive at a Mennonite camp called Camp Andrews. 

September 20, Day 4: Another day of beautiful riding, and ver, very hilly. Lovely stop at a local Cidery called Millstone. Worth a visit! Free tasting and purchases made by many. Rode into Maryland and our final night was at the extraordinary Pearlstone Retreat Center, featuring organic, farm-sourced food, and very comfortable lodging. We gad a big bonfire to celebrate our last night.

September 21, Final day for the group - 70 miles to the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Wasn't long before we crossed into MD, and the first 50 miles flew by as the group arrived in downtown Silver Spring. Then we rode together to Georgetown waterfront and further consolidated for the last 2 miles down Constitution Ave to the U.S. Capitol. After arriving at the Capital, we were joined by friends, families, and colleagues as we celebrated (see the pictures of so many riders holding their bikes in the air). Then, two Congressmen greeted us - Senator Markey from Massachusetts and Senator Whitehouse from Rhode Island. They both congratulated us for our achievements on the ride and shared their thoughts about climate change and the potential for legislation. I found Senator Whitehouse's comments particularly interesting. He mentioned that a significant number of companies had signed a pledge at COP21 to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. Because oil and gas have such a strong lobbying presence on the Hill, we can research companies that signed the pledge, and push them to be more active in lobbying Congress (on climate change issues). He went on to say that when the climate change denial shoe finally drops in Congress, it will drop instantly, like a crumbling house of cards. That makes sense to me - once evidence is too overwhelming to ignore, then Congress will rush to say they knew it all along. Watch! 

September 22, Day 6: Day 6: Early in the day I biked over to the GRID, Mid-Atlantic office to complete my visit to that office. As I had come to expect, I was warmly welcomed by the GRID staff and had a beautiful day. In the morning I went with a team of 2 other staff and one volunteer into pre-screened DC neighborhoods to do outreach about what GRID can offer qualifying homeowners. After a few hours, we returned to the office, where I was given a chance to talk about my almost 6000 miles long trip and answer questions about what I had learned by visiting so many GRID regional offices. Because I was both physically and emotionally exhausted at that point in the tour, I was quite emotional, a tendency that embarrassed me but seemed to touch my hosts. Then, after a tour of the office, I put my bike in the back of a pickup truck and was driven to Annapolis, where I spent a lovely evening with my host (and GRID staff) Michael Brown and his wife, Carolyn. 

September 23, Day 7: I left Annapolis reasonably early in the morning on a beautiful sunny day. It was a long, pleasant ride into Baltimore that alternated between a seriously wonderful greenway and city streets. Southern Baltimore is both run down and geographically beautiful. I followed Waterview Avenue, and area of rundown Parkway into Baltimore's fabulous downtown area - built up in a way that seems quite out of sync with the rest of the city. After passing through little Italy and Patterson Park after Butcher's Hill, I found the Pulaski Highway, which was to be my riding companion for another entire day.   

September 24, Day 8: After a sleepless night at a friendly, but divey, motel where I slept in my sleeping bag for fear of bedbugs, I followed the Pulaski Highway until about 2 pm. By that time I had just passed north of Wilmington into the northern suburb of Claymont. I saw a sign for SEPTA, the Philadelphia mass transit system. I decided to investigate, and damned if I couldn't pick up a commuter train into 30th St station in downtown Philadelphia. I went for it. I knew that once I got to the 30th street station, I could get me and my bike to Trenton, where I could hop a train to Penn Station in Manhattan. And that’s what I did. So I arrived back at my apartment in Washington Heights, Manhattan by about 7:30 pm. I now know that I can take trains all the way to Wilmington the next time I want to go south on a bike. I love that! I wish the rest of America had trains that were so bike friendly. 

Once I got home, I had one GRID office left to visit - in the Bronx. And so I did. On the 13th and 14th of October, and then again on October 28, I participated in solar installations in Highlands, new Jersey and Kingston, New York, respectively. And once I had completed those installs, the Tour was over! I have one last appeal letter to send out by email, and my almost 6000-mile trip is over!

This page is currently under construction. 

Celebrating GRID Alternatives

Celebrating GRID Alternatives

THE EAST: GRID Alternatives

THE EAST: GRID Alternatives