Smith: Those cyclists ache to save the world

Newcomer to serious cycling Kristin Berger is among the nearly 170 souls pedaling country roads from Fortuna to San Francisco on Climate Ride California.

Nursing sore muscles and wearing great smiles, the riders passed through west Sonoma County on Wednesday and camped that night in Olema. They are due to cross the Golden Gate Bridge before the end of the day Thursday.

As they go, the cyclists are raising funds for all manner of initiatives to soften mankind's impact on the planet. They're promoting clean energy, environmentally responsible transportation, climate education, resource conservation.

Berger's cause in the Santa Rosa-based Center for Climate Protection. Director Ann Hancock and Niki Woodard, the center's new communications and marketing chief, cheered Berger on at Moshin Vineyards on Westside Road, where the riders paused on Wednesday.

Berger said there's so much about the challenging five-day ride that's enthralling: the scenery, the weather, the personalities and collective energy, the purpose, the sense of personal accomplishment.

'Everybody here is stretching their comfort zone,' she said. Then she pedaled off down the winding, hilly road.

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