A group of MIT-affiliated cyclists hope to fuel themselves from New York to Washington in a few weeks to raise awareness -- and money -- for climate change initiatives.
The nine graduate students, researchers and friends are all planning to take part in the Climate Ride 2008, a five-day, 320-mile ride from the Big Apple to the nation's capital that symbolizes the nation's need to get out of the car.
"Bicycling is a perfect event," said team member John Reilly, a senior lecturer in the MIT Sloan School of Management. "If everyone used their bikes to get to work, do errands, then we'd be a happier, healthier place."
And weaving through the numerous cities and towns on their way to Washington should help generate buzz for ideology, said Engineering Systems Division graduate student Travis Franck, another team member.
"I hope that awareness about climate change issues increase because of the publicity we get riding through different communities," he said. "I think that the notion that cycling is an alternative to cars is an important aspect of climate change awareness."
Reilly and Franck's fellow cyclists include Center for Global Change Science postdoc Noelle Selin, graduate students Valerie Karplus and Katherine Potter, and Wade Franck, Elke Hodson, Tina Huang and Daniel Meredith. Together, they plan to ride as the team "Greenhouse Gamblers," which refers to the research done by members of the team in the MIT Global Change Program to understand the risks of climate change.
For several of the team members, the 320-mile trek isn't much more than an average week in the saddle. Reilly and Franck both ride their bicycles to MIT everyday; Reilly puts in almost 115 miles a week and for Franck "60 miles a day is not bad."
The key to their success then won't be completing the ride, but raising enough money to participate in the ride. With about two weeks until the ride, which runs from Sept. 20-24, the team has raised almost $8,500. They're just under halfway to their goal of $20,250.
"We are making progress but we need to get more donations," Reilly said. "I don't know if we'll be the lead team, but hopefully we can at least win as the best fundraising team."
A link to the team's fundraising web site can be found at web.mit.edu/globalchange/www/climateride08.html. Those interested in donating can either give to a specific team member or donate to the team as a whole.
Additionally the team will be hosting a fundraising event at the Muddy Charles Pub next Tuesday evening, Sept. 16. Door prizes and raffle prizes will be given out, including two weeklong stays at a cabin in Bethal, Maine, near the Sunday River ski resort. Other prizes from local area merchants will also be raffled off.