1) How/when did you get into cycling as a profession?
Ten years ago, I took a cross-country bike adventure with my buddy Bubba. During that trip, I kept thinking about what a cool lens it was to see America through, and how cycling might be used as a tool towards a more sustainable society. While in North Dakota, I met a farmer who expressed his deep concerns about the changes he was seeing in the climate, which further cemented these sentiments. Little did I know, the seeds of Climate Cycle were being sewn. Seven years later Climate Cycle was born, becoming a 501(c)(3) non-profit on March 27, 2008. This officially marked the beginning of the bike becoming an integral component of my profession.
2) How does your organization directly benefit cyclists?
Cycling tends to be a pretty white activity, which is not meant to be a value judgment, as I don’t think that’s intentional on anybody’s part. That said, Climate Cycle’s Ride to Recharge (3rd annual coming up on May 22), which funds solar and eco projects in schools, is a very diverse event in terms of age, race and cycling skill level (routes range from 4 to 125 miles). This helps grow and unify disparate pieces of the cycling community. Secondly, because we are a cause based event, certain people who might not otherwise be bike-inclined become more so that way. This is particularly true of our inner city student riders, some of whom learned to ride a bike specifically for this event. Recently, we put $4,000 into a bike club at Curie High School (50th and Pulaski) to help further youth involvement in biking, and intend to seed more such clubs over time. Lastly, to the extent that we all depend upon a livable planet, Climate Cycle’s efforts benefit both bikers and everyone else.
3) Do you specialize in a certain type of cycling?
Climate Cycle’s ride options accommodate a wide range of cyclists. Our routes range from as few as 4-miles, all the way up to a 2-day, 125-mile ride. By and large, I’d say we tend towards more leisurely riders, although there are some Climate Cyclists who time themselves along our longer routes. I personally ride a road bike, the same one that took me to California 10 years ago, so while I’ll rev it up to beat a red light, I’m not typically too speed conscious unless I’m running late or away from somebody.
4) What are your "must-have" items for cycling (this could be a tool, an accessory, a food, etc.)
I’m a rack and pannier kind of rider. Utilizing the steel horse as a way to transport my groceries or whatever else I can fit in those bags is a great tool in my day-to-day activities, not to mention a must for touring.
5) What do you see as the biggest area of opportunity in your niche market?
Bringing cyclists together, and doing so in the name of both personal and planetary health. Whether it be obesity levels that have tripled in the past 25 years or escalating levels of greenhouse gases, neither are sustainable and cycling addresses both. In the process, Climate Cycle aims to do its part in helping achieve Chicago’s Bike 2015 Plan of having 5% of all trips five miles or less be by bicycle.
6) How do you think the cycling community has changed in the last year or two?
Simply said, more cyclists. It’s great to see.
7) If you could go on a bike ride with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?'
Gandhi. I’d be tickled to hang out with him, all the more so on two wheels. It’d be great to hear his insights on the issues of the day.