Bowen Humphreys
Bowen Humphreys
Project Manager

Not So Dead: The Surprising Activity Around the Death Ride

It’s been about a month, and I think I’ve nearly recovered from the California Death Ride. It’s a 130-mile day-long bicycle ride over 5 mountain passes, totaling 15,000 feet of elevation climbing. When I told people I had signed up for it with my dad, who had completed it twice before, the usual response was “why would you want to do that to yourself?” Everyone around me, myself included, thought it was just some tiny race where crazy people decided to push themselves to the limit on a bicycle.

COMM BH BlogImage 2014 08When I arrived in Turtle Rock for the race, however, I realized there is a lot more to it. The entire community came out in support of the race. It seemed that everyone who lived there was volunteering, and local businesses and organizations were also helping out however they could. The local community had ownership over it; it was their race as much as it was mine. It reminded me of a blog post I had written a while back about how sustainability rewrites math. This community took a crazy bike race and made it their own, and through that they have reinforced and added to the local culture, becoming a more cohesive and robust community.

Not only that, but the Death Ride adds a huge amount of economic gain to the area, with hotels for miles around filled up, restaurants busy feeding hungry racers, families stopping by general stores to pick up last-minute snacks and refueling at local gas stations. For some like myself, this was their first time there. But others had been in the race before and wanted to return, bringing with them more family and friends who might fall in love with the area and bring more people to visit. I certainly fell in love with the views and will be returning in the future, and not just once a year for the Death Ride.

It didn’t stop there, because organizations such as Friends of Hope Valley were also involved to help people appreciate the beauty and splendor of the area they were visiting. Even when I was dead-tired and felt like I had no energy left, I was still able to look around at the amazing views and marvel at the natural beauty the area has to offer. Events like the Death Ride help us all to slow down and realize just how special nature can be, and why it’s important to protect those special places.

It just goes to show that even if something is seemingly miniscule or fringe, if the community can band together, support it, and make it their own, they can get more than what they paid for in reinforcing local culture, increasing regional prosperity, and protecting their natural environment.

Hey! If you want to understand more about how you can use triple-bottom-line thinking to your benefit and get more than you pay for, check out SBC's 20th Anniversary Peak Innovation Conference that’s going on October 8-10. With amazing influencers such as Van Jones and Terry Tempest Williams among the speakers at the conference, you can help explore the evolving opportunities and challenges in creating, measuring, and implementing sustainable solutions to local and Sierra-wide issues.