A group of 17 people were recently selected to participate in the climate ride hosted by the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions (CSCS). Goshen College students Denver Beck, Sierra Richer and Greta Klassen were among those selected.

The group is set to bike nearly 4,000 miles, from Seattle to Washington D.C. starting May 31.

“I was very excited when I got the acceptance email,” Richer said.

Beck added that it is “sort of surreal to realize this is actually happening.”

Applications began last November with a notice in the GC communicator. Once friends started talking about it, Beck, Richer, and Klassen jumped at the opportunity.

“I have always thought it would be cool to bike across the country,” Klassen said. “It’s always been a dream of mine.”

The three students share a deep connection with nature so raising awareness about climate change while biking seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“Climate change is one of the most important issues in our generation,” Beck said.

“Everyone is already starting to feel its impact,” Richer added in agreement.

CSCS decided the last stop on the long journey would be Washington D.C. to meet legislatures and advocate for bills. These could be subsidies toward renewable markets and building projects that utilize cleaner materials like pulverised fuel ash — a cement substitute.

The organization got started in 2016 when Goshen College collaborated with Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and the Mennonite Central Committee. Their mission was to educate, connect, motivate and develop strategies for climate change.

Joanna Friesen, a sports coach at EMU, will lead the trip. Bikers will travel eight hours a day, six days a week with the seventh day set aside for communication.

Along the way, participants will connect with different communities, learning and sharing information. A van will follow the group, carrying necessities such as camping equipment that won’t fit on top of bicycles.

Last spring, Richer recognized that apathy towards climate change exists while reading a book.

“I did get depressed,” she admitted. “But I realized you can be like ‘it’s too hard and I don’t want to care’ or you can be like ‘this is our future, and I have the power to change it.’”

Richer decided to do something.

In cases where people decide not to do anything about climate change, Beck and Klassen believe connecting with what the community is most passionate about helps the movement to gain support. Richer stated that telling stories about how beautiful nature is could also influence those who are still hesitant about getting involved.

In just 52 days, the climate ride will be underway. Beck, Richer and Klassen are expected to end their journey in Washington D.C. on July 28.

According to the CSCS website, people not participating for the full journey are welcome to join in for the day. A community ride is scheduled for July 15 as the group travels to the Merry Lea Environmental Center.

See more details at https://sustainableclimatesolutions.org/climate-ride/.