Cycling Elite Amateur Sport

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Cyclist Michael Woods going carbon neutral this season

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Pro cyclist Michael Woods of Ottawa is familiar with life-changing events. He was a notable Canadian middle- and long-distance track runner who was forced to stop because of foot injuries, before discovering cycling.

Well, Woods has embarked on another life-changing project, which he hopes will be his contribution to tackling climate change. He’s also hoping he can inspire family, friends, fellow riders and fans to follow in his footsteps.

“As one of my actions, I am pledging to make 2021 a carbon neutral season,” Woods said in a press release this month. Using his passion and motivation, he’s making a personal commitment “to tackle the impact I am having on the planet.”

Mike Woods riding in Gatineau Park during the 2016 Canadian Championships. File photo

In his European-based home country of Andorra, Woods said the average person emits about 12-24 tons of CO2 annually. But as a professional cyclist and reviewing all of its elements in a year, his carbon footprint was 60 tons of CO2.

Thirty-three tons of that figure are related to travel to various races. The other contributing factors are shipping and consumption-related, plus the support vehicles that assist him, while riding for Israel Start-Up Nation.

“I fly to races regularly and have a convoy of cars and trucks following my every move,” explained the Hillcrest High School grad. “I sit in a massive bus at the end of each stage and go through countless plastic bottles and packaged goods.

“I consume vast volumes of food, including large quantities of meat, and go through far more clothing than the average person. I love my job, but it’s hard to deny that the cost of my performance and the impact it has on the planet is significant.”


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He was inspired to make a positive difference concerning climate change earlier this year by former pro cyclist Christian Meier, the founder of The Service Course. Woods started by taking an audit of his personal and professional life.

Woods performed this task using the World Wildlife Fund’s carbon footprint calculator on its website. Then he opened the MyClimate website to assess all aspects of his last full cycling season in 2019.

“Unsurprisingly, the results were quite disturbing. To account for where my impact is unavoidable, I am using Gold Standard to make financial contributions to offset my annual carbon footprint,” Woods said.

“Riding has really opened my eyes to how beautiful the planet is and I want to do my part in protecting it.”

Based in Geneva, Gold Standard’s vision is climate security and sustainable development for everyone.

“Using the Gold Standard website each month, based off of my total carbon emissions, I will make contributions to their certified projects,” Woods added.

Woods and his wife Elly have been making everyday contributions like rarely using their car when they’re at home, walking and/or biking, shopping locally and reducing the amount of meat they consume.

“From simple things such as taking a permanent knife, fork, cup and bowl with me on the road so that I am no longer using plastic utensils and plates during our post-race meals, to rethinking how I eat, and travel and paying to offset all of the carbon that I emit for 2021, I am pledging to make this a carbon neutral season.”

In his ninth season, Woods has seven stage and individual wins, and was the 2018 world championship road bronze medallist.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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