"Judging by the Google groups set up for this ride," says Natasha Granoff, laughing, "I could be the oldest person there." Granoff, 52, is training for Climate Ride California, a fundraising bike tour coming up Sept. 9–13 that begins near Eureka and ends in San Francisco. There's beautiful scenery but some killer uphills, including the infamously steep Leggett Hill.
A casual cyclist, Granoff bikes to work from Santa Rosa to Graton. "I'm really more of a commute rider," Granoff tells the Bohemian, "not one of those who lives to ride." But Granoff is passionate about climate protection, so much that she has committed to riding the 40 to 60 miles each day for five days and fundraising the Climate Ride minimum of $2,400. "I was going to do the ride last year but was intimidated by the fundraising aspect," Granoff says. "But it's been easier than I thought it would be, and I hope to exceed the goal."
Granoff also hopes to make those countless hill climbs, so she's training with others through the Climate Protection Campaign in Santa Rosa, the nonprofit beneficiary of her ride. Climate Ride cyclists pay a $75 registration fee and pack their own gear, but the ride includes snacks, meals, a sag wagon and camping in beautiful places four nights: a Humboldt redwood forest, the Mendocino coast, the Russian River and the Marin Headlands. Riders hear nightly lectures on topics from climate to bicycle infrastructure.
While live-to-bike types may relish the rider's buzz, for Granoff it's all about drawing attention to the climate crisis. "My personal feeling is the game is over. I don't want to sound cynical, but even Bill McKibben, among the most optimistic, wrote a pretty depressing climate article for Rolling Stone recently," says Granoff. "The truth is we're too late to do what might have been possible if we'd acted sooner. Now the discussion has shifted from preventing to adapting to climate change, and that's a far more costly option."
So why is Granoff giving up her free time to train for a demanding ride with people better trained and perhaps decades younger than she? "You can't stop trying," says Granoff. "It's really important to raise awareness of climate change. It's a serious problem, and the world is still responding to it like a deer in the headlights."
Granoff has a cheerful, self-effacing attitude about her upcoming trip. "I don't feel quite prepared, but it's a tour, not a race, and people say it's really fun," says Granoff.
"If I get into trouble," she adds jokingly, "I'll just ride the sag wagon!"
For more, see www.climateride.org.