After days of torrential downpours, there was light at the end of the tunnel–or bridge, as it were–for 124 bicyclists who wrapped up a five-day fundraising ride in San Francisco today.

Departing from Fortuna in Humboldt County on Sunday and pedaling through several days of wet weather, the California Climate Ride participants — soggy, but not defeated–crossed the Golden Gate Bridge this morning on their way to the ride’s finish at City Hall for a 12:45 p.m. rally.

“After what we’ve been through for the last four days, they’re not fazed at all,” ride director Blake Holiday said by phone this morning.

Climate Ride is a five-day charity ride benefiting more than 30 organizations focusing on bicycle advocacy, clean energy, climate education, and sustainability.

Organizers said this week’s riders raised more than $275,000. Riders can choose to raise money for a specific beneficiary or for the entire lot of organizations, which includes, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and Sierra Club California, among other groups.

The event, which also has a ride between New York and Washington, D.C., is in its four year, but this is the first year that participants can direct their fundraising to groups of their choice, according to organizers.

The California Climate ride–a 320-mile journey through the redwoods, along the coastline and through the Russian River Valley–made stops in Richardson Grove, Mendocino, Duncan Mills and Olema. Cyclists spent up to 100 miles per day in the saddle.

Like other supported rides such as the annual AIDS/LifeCycle ride between San Francisco and Los Angeles, riders pay a registration fee and must meet a fundraising minimum–in this case, $2,400.

Unlike other rides, however, the Climate Ride is known as the “green conference on wheels,” organizers said, because participants attend speaking events nightly along the route.

“Climate Ride has become a hub of the sustainability movement, and the premiere annual event to showcase bicycles as part of a sustainable future,” Climate Ride co-founder and Director Caeli Quinn said in a statement last week.

Holiday, who organizes both the East Coast and West Coast Climate Rides, said that it was very inspirational to see this many people so committed to the sustainability movement.

“It was a pretty intense experience. It was one of the best groups I’ve ever had,” he said. “Even though there was a lot of adversity, it brought the group together.”

Holiday said the participants’ commitment to working on environmental issues is even stronger after having overcome the weather and the course, and that they’re “recharged.”

After the second day of riding, the group had to abandon its campsite because of the inclement weather. Nearly all the riders checked into a Quality Inn in Fort Bragg after the storm razed the campsite and fashioned tents into “mangled heaps of wreckage,” Holiday said.

“I guess it was really hitting home that climate change is here,” he said.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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