We like to try to keep things positive here at A Dude Abikes. And by we, I mean me. There is plenty of negativity in the news these days, what with that “You Crane” issue. (At least it’s not a Me Crane.) And sure, I gripe about my fitness level or other health issues, loss of my lighter bike Sookie, and so on. Don’t get me wrong: The rides are all great events and causes which I still support. Make no mistake, my credentials are well-established. I’ve done six rides (three breast cancers, two AIDS and one MS) – and raised over $12,000 in the process. So forgive me if in this post if I get into a wee bit of real-ness about charity bike rides. I think the few people who actually read this can handle some truth, even if it’s a tad uncomfortable.
- No one really asked*. I didn’t need an engraved invitation, and although that would have been nice, we are talking non-profits here. *I did get an email from one ride, a postcard from another and someone did text me from a third, thinking I had registered. A Dude is not fond of texting, because while it’s convenient, a real way of relating to other people it is not. But that wasn’t it: I just didn’t feel the love; it was more a sense that what they really meant was “Hey, you! Are you gonna raise money for us or not?” If someone had my number and time to text, they could have taken the next step and tried the personal touch of a phone call. Donors also weren’t clamoring for me to ask them to donate.
- Could not get to training rides. Because I haven’t owned a car since 2005, I can’t get out of town without a car ride. I mentioned it to a few folks, but nothing came of that. Again, not the ride’s fault. And maybe I was the only one in that sitch, but I rather doubt it. Probably most people self-select – don’t have a car, don’t bother with out of town rides. And I wasn’t even assured I could have gotten to the day of the event. Last year, my ride there left and I had to hang around begging for a way back to Austin. Still, I don’t think it would have been too hard for some carpools to be arranged. But it wasn’t, so I didn’t go. I need all the beauty rest I can get anyway.
- Having no teammates is lame. Although I’ve asked, my attempts at finding someone to ride at my speed, or at all with one exception, hasn’t worked out. So not having a team most of the time has made the rides rather lonely. Which is fine to a point, but as social animals, we humans sometimes tend to enjoy the other humans. Last year on one ride after the first bit, I mostly was by myself. I ride alone a lot, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I can do that here. So I guess it bothered me more than I realized. I lingered to talk to the rest stop people and even a constable at one point, having extra time since the ride was shortened on account of rain. Then I even got chastised for that.
- Fundraising is like, hard n’ stuff. Asking people for money is never fun. Especially without the convenience of social media. Or when people don’t answer because they’re too scared or whatever to say “No, sorry, I already gave this year.” Or, “No, it’s a bad time.” Or, “No, I think charity rides are scams and everyone should just stay home and save money and donate directly.” But hey, it’s just a question, it doesn’t bite. Some people got angry about it, though. One person known in the bike community said it took real balls to ask, and then cancelled our connection in the business networking site and blocked my number. Look, I get that we weren’t best friends, but it was a good cause and I asked everyone — you weren’t special. I had a person I don’t know well at all write a check for the entire minimum required to ride, $300. So yeah, you find out who your friends and allies are. Don’t wanna give? Fine, just say “No thanks.”
- No lighter bike. Last year I did a ride on Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer. She’s a big-boned lass made of chromoly steel, so it was much tougher than on the aluminum- framed Sookie, the Fuji Silhouette. Not to mention the latter had 18 more gears.
- I didn’t have the legs (fitness). I had an intense contract job that required some work every single day for the last few months as well as having to drive long distances in a gasoline-powered, combustion engine fueled automobile. It was also the hottest September on record in Central Texas. So I just couldn’t and didn’t get much riding in. The point is I wasn’t in shape anyway.
- Charity starts at home. As mentioned, I had a demanding job. After a good long stretch of no employment, except for two short-term gigs, I had to do something. Keeping A Dude in brown rice and black beans, plus bicycle tire tubes, the occasional acupuncture and medical appointments, and so on, is important. So really it was not much of a choice. I had to take care of moi, since absolutely no one else is (excepting some generous patrons who shared cars and housing).
Well, that’s my list. I don’t mean to go all Negative Nancy on y’all. It’s just the truth, bike riding is hard enough without the added pressures of getting up at o-dark 30 for training rides and to fundraise. There are plenty of opportunities if I get a lighter bike, rides to the trainings, and easier ways of raising money. Until then, life goes on, and I do what I can in my little neck of the nape, nape of the neck, I mean neck of the woods. You do that too. And please share any experiences with charity rides in the comments. Thanks for reading, and Just Keep Pedalin’!
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