Reflections on the 10th Annual PEC Environment Ride

The 10th Annual PEC Environment ride took place over the weekend of October 2-4, 2020. The following photographs were captured over the course of the ride. The accompanying reflection was written by Kyle Conner, who has participated in the Environment Ride every year since 2011. Click here for more information on this year’s ride. 

This year’s ride exceeded my expectations. The sheer abundance and diversity of natural beauty in this part of the world, southeastern PA to be specific, never ceases to evoke a feeling of wonder for me. On Friday, we encountered many scenes of Amish rural life: children on scooter-bikes (a bicycle with a flat floorboard to stand on instead of pedals); a family in a wagon filled with pumpkins being brought to market; harvest markets aplenty; children attentively listening to a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse with the front door open; industrious men and women bailing hay, making repairs, cutting the lawn with a mechanical mower, and performing other domestic activities.

Of course, our local natural beauty does not suddenly stop at the Pennsylvania border. One of the firsts of this year’s ride was venturing into our esteemed neighboring state of Delaware on Saturday, where we supped and stayed in historic Wilmington along the banks of the Christiana River. The river walk provides a lovely venue for walks, sightseeing, and nightlife and is really worth a visit. We had an excellent dinner at Big Fish Grille out on the patio. The Sunday ride back to Philly was also new terrain for me, with notable sites along the way being Dew Point Brewery, The Hagley Museum, and the Chester Valley Trail. Also a first, instead of ending at the Water Works behind the Art Museum, we held our closing reception at the Manayunk Brew Pub, where we were situated on an elevated porch overlooking the canal. It was a peaceful way to have a final snack and beer with each other and reflect on the ride.

A personal first for me was completion of a century ride on Saturday—yes folks, that is one hundred miles! Our route planner extraordinaire and de facto leader Gerry issued the challenge that he would donate an additional $100 in the name of each rider who completed the century. Four of us did so, bringing in the additional monies to PEC. I am proud of both my personal achievement, the added bonus for PEC, and the fact that I pedaled a total of 220 miles over 3 days for the Pennsylvania environment!


Ultimately, what I have come to value greatly over these past 9 years leading to this 10th anniversary ride is the community that has rallied and thrived around our shared cause of advocating for the PA environment. A few of us, including myself, were there at the start. And many of you were there as well, offering your support and encouragement back in 2011. I’m a bit older now, but in some ways stronger, a more seasoned advocate and rider.

The rolling hills of Lancaster County farmlands, bubbling creeks and forests of Chester County, mushroom country around Kennett, the chilly kiss of morning fall air on the face. These are some of my lingering impressions of this year’s ride. But as I mentioned above, I think more than any other year, this year’s ride brought home for me the fact that this community of people is truly important to me. We may not gather as frequently as other communities, but we behave in the same way: we show concern for each other; we are interested in each other’s experiences; we derive meaning from being with each other; and we share common passions and purpose. In a world where pressures have increased to drive people apart, I feel more strongly than ever that the surest way to build a better world is through growing our communities. And if this community can bring attention and stewardship to our natural world, so much the better.

So no epic narrative for my recap this year. Somehow that seems inappropriate right now. Because this really isn’t about me. It’s about this community and how important it is, how we have become important to each other. I am left feeling gratitude for that, and I think that’s enough right now.