What a rush, what a ride...
I've just returned home from my second RIDE ON ___ event with People for Bikes:
- March 30: Asheville, NC to Charlotte, NC
- March 31: Charlotte, NC to Greenville, SC
- April 1: Greenville, SC to Athens, GA
- April 2: Athens, GA to Atlanta, GA
I joined PFB in 2014 for the Ride on Chicago and this year we made our way into the south, riding from Asheville NC to Atlanta GA. We began as a group of relative strangers; all crazy-passionate about bikes of course - and 4 days and approx 450 miles later, we were one finely-tuned machine of friendship and laughs and 2x2 pacelines. I mean -the number of inside jokes and bonds formed and laughs honestly grew exponentially day by day so that by the end, we were all asking for #onemoreday. (Seriously). Amazing what time on the bikes and eating and hanging out can do for a group of people.
See e.g., Exhibit A: (photo credit @peopleforbikes @mcmahon_meg).
The purpose of this ride is to raise money, yes. We are each asked to raise $5000 or so, to round out a nice $100,000 effort for the week. This covers the ride overhead plus leaves People for Bikes with extra money to fund new bike projects, like bike lanes, gathering statistics, conducting studies or even making cool videos that inspire people to ride bikes. But the other main purpose is to raise AWARENESS. Rolling through these towns with our support crews behind us, we certainly turned heads and made people look up. *LOOK HOW COOL BIKES CAN BE!* Coming into ATL on the final day we were stopped at a red light and the woman in the car next to me rolled down her window and said "I wish I was on my bike right now and not stuck in this awful traffic!". Yep. Exactly.
Not only that, but this year's ride featured several prominent folks which FURTHER elevated the promotion of the event and awareness all the more. These folks included NASCAR greats Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, as well as Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. It was a top notch event from start to finish with many memorable moments (how about that deer that nearly took out Ted King? Or the hotel water main break/ flood that had us up at 3am?). That Tim Johnson SURE does know how to throw an epic event together.
I began my fundraising efforts by throwing down the first $1k and then asked my friends and people who love bikes to raise the next $3k. I'm so close to the $4k mark and when I get there, I am throwing down the next $1k to round out at $5000. My donation is made in honor of cyclist Glenda Taylor, who was killed in Kansas in 2015 while warming up for the state Time trial championships. I donate in her honor and in honor of others killed senselessly by motorists -distracted or drunk or simply don't care enough to safely pass us. I donate and ride in the hopes that someday those deaths will be a thing of the past, when roads have bike lanes / infrastructure, and cyclists aren't hit by cars and I'm out of a job and have to find something else to do (truly, nothing would make me happier). We are slowly chipping away... making progress towards that end.
So ... what am I asking you to do?
First - I have until May 1 to raise as much cashola as I possibly can for PFB and would be grateful for any donation you can make: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/page/outreach/view/ride-on-atlanta-2016/Meghottman
Second - go here http://www.peopleforbikes.org/take-action and get involved with PeopleForBikes;
Third -ride your bike everywhere you can, spread the bike gospel, lead by example - take friends and coworkers out for leisurely rides and commutes and show them how it is easy to incorporate the bike into everyday life - the car can stay home sometimes;
Fourth- please be a good steward and ambassador. Follow the laws when and where you ride.
Huge thanks to the folks that made our ride possible, including People for Bikes, Skratch Labs (fed us amazing and wholesome meals each day!), + SRAM and Mavic for on-the-road support.
I flew home late last night and this morning of course, commuted to work by bike. I reflected on our week and on the roads and areas we traversed. And I realized how lucky I am to have a commute to work that consists of bike lanes and wide shoulders; I feel safe everytime I do it. So safe even, that my dog often joins me for the round trip:
This isn't the case in most towns across the US, and I can't help but wonder how many more people would #ridemoredriveless if they had such a safe route to ride.
I hope in my lifetime I see the needle move drastically and we see a shift away from the auto-reliance we've grown so accustomed to, and we see moves towards bikes and bike love...