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Desert Bike Ride Raising Climate Change Awareness, Money


Two central Illinois men are biking across Death Valley to raise money to fight climate change. 

Michael Brown is the Executive Director of the Ecology Action Center. Proceeds from the ride will benefit the center. Kevin Loeske owns Peeler's Ovenworks, a mobile, rentable, wood-fired pizza oven.  Both are participating in the Climate Ride Death Valley, Feb. 25 to March 2. 

Despite the current political climate, including a gag-order affecting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, both Brown and Loeske think this is the perfect time to raise awareness. 

"The visibility of climate issues is actually at a high point right now because it's become a little more controversial, a little more politicized," said Brown. "For us to get out and draw positive awareness to climate change and what we can do about I think is very good timing." 

Credit Michael Brown
Michael Brown's Bike and Kevin Loeske on a bike on a bridge over the Mackinaw River, west of Bloomington-Normal.

Loeske agreed, and said local grassroots efforts could be the spring board for a larger political action to address climate change. H also said during the fundraising efforts he was able to have a lot of one on one conversations about climate change. 

"The minimum threshold was $2,800 for this specific ride," said Loeske. "I've done a number of things. We had a big event at Stave. They were generous enough to donate proceeds from sales of the day, as well as taking donations. I've also done some events with my mobile pizza oven."

Both Loeske and Brown exceeded the minimum need for the ride.

Credit Michael Brown
Brown and Loeske with a "friend" (Adlai Stevenson) at the Central Illinois Regional Airport on Friday, before departing for Death Valley

"A good portion of the proceeds will be coming back to our community in that we do get to use some of it post ride to help some of our local efforts by the Ecology Action Center," said Brown.

The ride is 4 days long and is averages about 60 miles a day. February is the mildest period for the Death Valley area with current high temperatures in the mid-70s. The average high temperature in July is 117 degrees. 

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