Q&A with GRS’ Peter Wiswell: Why I’m Biking Across the Nation

Global Risk Solutions executive supporting wildlife environmental response

Peter Wiswell, Executive General Adjuster and Manager of Marine Claims in Global Risk Solutions’ Environmental Risk Management Solutions (ERMS) division, began pedaling his bicycle May 4 on a nearly 3,000-mile journey to raise awareness and funds for Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc. He is riding from San Francisco across the United States, and he expects to reach Tri-State’s headquarters in Newark, Delaware, in early July. 

How did this fund-raising event start?

It really was a combination of two things that have been important parts of my career in marine insurance and claims. For many years, I have been involved in responding to environmental events such as oil spills, and I know firsthand how important risk management and crisis response are, which I’m now doing at Global Risk Solutions. One of the organizations that I’ve worked with during my career in environmental response is Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, a wonderful nonprofit group that does a great job of rehabilitating and restoring wildlife following spills of oil and other contaminants. When I learned that Tri-State needed money to buy another wildlife response vehicle, I wanted to find a way help. That’s how this ride, which we’re calling “Wheels for Wings,” was born. I’m very grateful to GRS and all the sponsors of Wheels for Wings, not only for giving me the time to make this ride, but also for their generous financial support.

Why did you decide to bike your way across America?

In a word, I love cycling. I’ve been an avid cyclist for most of my life, and I remain very much associated with the sport. And there really is no better way to see this beautiful country of ours.

How has the ride gone to this point?

So far, it has been pretty smooth. As in life, you never know what you’ll encounter on the road, weather conditions, etc., so you have to be prepared. I’ve gotten into a cadence of starting out at first light and riding for several hours. Because we started on the West Coast, I’m doing a lot of climbing, which is strenuous. Through the Rocky Mountains, it’s cool early, but it heats up, and I try to limit my hours on the road during the heat of the day. I’m pacing myself, riding for several days then taking some time off to rest. Fortunately, it’s not a race!

How do you transport all the gear you need?

My wife is my crew chief and provides critical on-the-road support every day. She drives a custom-built trailer into which we packed as much as we could. When it’s time to get off the road, we find a spot to camp. The trailer is our home away from home.

What has surprised you most about the journey so far?

One thing that we weren’t expecting is the number of spectacularly nice people we’ve met along the way. Sometimes, we forget how genuinely kind people can be in this world. For example, in Nevada we made a stop to pick up some items and when people heard what we were doing, they gave us ice-cold water and other supplies, to show their support. In another, the owner of a resort that was closed for the winter let us park our trailer and stay overnight.

How can people support Wheels for Wings?

A number of generous sponsors have stepped up to make meaningful contributions, and their names appear on my cycling jerseys. They include Global Risk Solutions, Water Quality Insurance Syndicate, Crestlea Foundation, Atlantic Marine Inspections, Ramboll, Pacific-Gulf Marine, and Nicoletti Hornig & Sweeney, among others. Tri-State welcomes additional supporters to reach our goal of $75,000. If we exceed it, even better to enhance their environmental response efforts. Those interested in supporting Wheels for Wings should visit https://tristatebird.givingfuel.com/wheelsforwings.

Follow Peter Wiswell’s journey at www.globalrisksolutions.com and on social media. To follow his progress during Wheels for Wings, click here to see a daily tracker.

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