The battle for California, as seen by bike. Part 2

Riding for open space, and a question for readers of How the World Works.

Published May 3, 2007 9:01PM (EDT)

Two months ago, while on a long bike ride in the East Bay, I found myself looking at a Toll Brothers luxury housing development and wondering: If we can't achieve sustainable, eco-friendly development in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region chock-full of bike activists and organic farmers and radicals of every stripe, why are we even bothering to worry about what China or India's economic development might signify for the global environment? We're doomed.

And thus was born a blog post: The battle for California -- as seen by bike.

A few days after I published that post, I received an e-mail from the East Bay field representative of an organization called the Greenbelt Alliance. The Greenbelt Alliance works to preserve and promote open space in the Bay Area. I was familiar with them -- I'd even called their main office with some questions relating to research for my bike ride post. But the field rep didn't know that; she was contacting me to encourage me to take part in their annual Go Greenbelt ride, a seven-day, 480-mile bicycle ride that loops around the Bay Area in the first week of June.

I'd heard about the ride before and in some of my more unhinged moments had considered attempting it. A good cause -- promoting open space -- and good exercise. But I'd never felt quite up to it.

I'm still not sure I am up to it. But I'm going to make a stab at it, and it is no exaggeration to say that for the last few months, when I haven't been sleeping, blogging or hanging out with my kids, I've been riding up a steep hill somewhere in Contra Costa County. There's something intellectually satisfying about merging a few of the interests that I've been exploring in How the World Works -- sustainability, development, the environment -- with real sweat and hard-earned miles. Like my favorite 16th century Ming Dynasty Neo-Confucian sage-philosopher, Wang Yangming, always said, you don't really know anything unless you act upon that knowledge. Time to get off my ass.

A few days ago, Greenbelt contacted me again. This time, their communications director wanted to know if I was interested in posting regular updates from the ride on Salon. I'm not sure, for a couple of reasons: Do I want to be working in the middle of the most grueling physical undertaking I've ever attempted? And, perhaps more to the point, would How the World Works' readers be interested in such a thing? There won't be any updates on Indian history or genetically modified energy crops or subprime mortgage lending follies. Just me, sharing whatever it is one thinks about when one is dog tired and climbing up a steep hill, hoping that some sweat will slow down the next valley's transformation into a gated community.

So I'm asking you, straight out. Are you interested?

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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