Cyclists Hit the Road for Glacier Park

Conservancy, environmental advocacy group organize five-day trip to raise money for bike projects in the park

By Justin Franz
Jay Ruzicka fixes a tube on his bike before departing Glacier Guides on July 7, 2015. Climate Ride and the Glacier National Park Conservancy teamed up to hold a five day bike ride through Glacier National Park to raise money for bike related projects in the park. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

WEST GLACIER – Thirty bicyclists hit the road on July 7 as part of a fundraiser for the Glacier National Park Conservancy. The six-day, 250-mile trip took them to nearly every corner of the park and into Canada.

Organized by Missoula-based Climate Ride, the event raised more than $100,000 for bicycle-related projects inside the park.

Among the projects being supported are the installation of bike racks and the purchase of a bicycle trailer so that people can ride a bus from Apgar or Lake McDonald to Avalanche to ride up the Going-to-the-Sun Road in spring. The Avalanche parking lot often fills up quickly in the spring as cyclists start their trek up the Sun Road before it opens to traffic. The projects need $52,000 and are part of the conservancy’s 2016 field guide, a fundraising initiative that kicked off this month.

The ride started at Glacier Guides in West Glacier with a trek up the Camas Road on the west side and ended with a rafting trip down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River on July 12. Each participant raised money so that they could participate, including Greg Olson, a conservancy board member. Olson raised $12,500 from friends and family.

“Everyone knows that Glacier is a good cause, so everyone wants to support it,” he said.

Amanda Thieroff of Port Townsend, Washington raised nearly $3,000 before making her first ever trip to Glacier Park. She had a friend participate in a Climate Ride-sponsored event a few years ago and said it was a great way to give back.

“I thought that biking the park would be the coolest way possible to see it on my first trip,” she said.

Climate Ride organizes numerous hikes and bike rides across the country to raise awareness about the environment. Besides seeing landscapes impacted by climate change first hand, the riders attend presentations to learn more about each area. Besides the ride in Glacier, Climate Ride organizes a ride from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Chicago and from Bar Harbor, Maine, near Acadia National Park, to Boston.

Caeli Quinn, the executive director and co-founder of the organization, said that since 2008 the group has given more than $2.2 million to conservation organizations around the country.

“Our goal at Climate Ride is to give people the tools to be citizen philanthropist,” she said. “Our goal is to connect people to the American landscape and make them want to protect it.”