Bike4GRUB Challenge

The Bike4GRUB Challenge Ticker

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Seen on the ride

It was a gorgeous weekend for riding. On Saturday I took my new cyclocross bike out to Lubbock Lake Landmark to ride the trail. It was bright, with a light, cool breeze:

Sunday was just as pretty, so I took the Ruby on a long and rambly spin. Everywhere I went, the light seemed exceptionally beautiful, but maybe I was just feeling grateful for the warm weather. Maybe I would have thought the same of ordinary, crappy light, just because it wasn't cold and windy for a change.

Nah. See for yourself:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bike4GRUB (A sneak preview)

You may remember that a few years ago I rode 2011 miles for the South Plains Food Bank, and in the process raised over $5000 for their GRUB farm. It started as a motivator for me to get into shape, but it turned into something a lot more meaningful along the way--so much so that I knew I'd want to repeat the experience someday. It took me awhile to get another one going, though, because I wanted to improve on the model.

For example, I needed to figure out a way to make the challenge sustainable. After all, once I reached the mark of 2011, it didn't seem likely that people would put up money to see if I could reach 2012 miles, so I needed another hook--and preferably one that could be used year after year.

I also wanted to find a way to get others involved in the challenge, in part because I want more people to know how much fun riding can be. Cycling can change your life in beautiful, unexpected ways.

Finally, even though the challenge is a great way to motivate people to ride, it is really, in the end, about the GRUB farm, and so I wanted to shift the focus from me (and this blog) to this urban farm itself, which is a remarkable, little known branch of the South Plains Food Bank. The Carolyn Lanier Youth Farm, created in 1988 to provide fresh, locally grown produce for persons in need, is also a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Proceeds from the CSA are used, in part, to support GRUB (Growing Recruits for Urban Business) Program, which teaches young adults life and job skills by working on the farm and with its harvest. For more information on the food bank and GRUB, check out their website

So with these things in mind, I met with some people from the food bank and the farm, and together we have cooked up a new, improved challenge which we are calling, Bike4GRUB. Here are the details:

  • Official kick off will be February 2, at the Carolyn Lanier Youth Farm, and will end on November 1. (I started counting my miles on January 1, though.)
  • This year, instead of riding 2014 miles (to match the calendar year), we are just asking people to pledge either a penny (or more) per mile, or a flat pledge of some amount--not just for me, but for any rider who wants to participate. I am unlikely to ride more than 3000 miles in ten months time, so if you choose to sponsor me at a penny a mile, your pledge is almost guaranteed not to go over $30. However, if you pick another rider, I make no such guarantee!
  • Members of the Texas Tech Cycling Team will be joining me in the challenge this time around, and some of those people can ride, and ride, and ride... So if you like a thrill, pick a participating member of Tech Racing and make a pledge!

The GRUB farm team (kids, workers, and volunteers) is also joining the challenge and looking for sponsors, and anyone else who wants to join and raise money for the farm is also welcome. The Food Bank has set up a webpage where people can go and either sign up as riders or sponsors. The website is still under construction, but it should be ready to go by opening kickoff. I'll provide more details as they develop.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

And so it begins again.

On January 1st I started a new Bike Garden Challenge, once again to benefit the South Plains Food Bank GRUB Farm. I haven't said much about it yet, since I'm still fine tuning some of the ideas with the food bank people. We're going to have a real kick off on February 1st. Suffice it to say that it is going to be both simpler and more complicated than the last one. Details to be revealed. It is going to be  wonderful and amazing. You'll see.

Anyway, I started the challenge just when the deep freeze gripped the entire world northern hemisphere all  of North America (except, apparently, southern California, because that's where the movie stars live), and so the mileage has not been anything to write home about. No worries, though. There's ample time to match the length of the road.

After several days in a row that offered less than ideal conditions for riding, today promised to be nice. And it was, too, though the sharp wind out of the north made my eyes water as I rode. I pedaled out to Lubbock Lake Landmark to see some old friends and have a palaver about the class I'm teaching there, goodness, starting next week.

High time. Let's get this show on the road.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Allez, pou-pou!

In the cult classic, The Rider, by Tim Krabbe´, the author describes spectators along the side of the road, shouting encouragement to the cyclists in a race. "Allez, pou-pou!" they say as the riders pass by.

Pou-pou is a nickname for Raymond Poulidor, a French cyclist in the 1960s who perpetually came in second in the Tour de France to an unpopular Jacques Anquetil. I suppose the spectators were calling out the name of any cyclist they knew, and Poulidor was one of the famous ones of the day. Or maybe Krabbe´ was dreaming what they said. He dreamed up a lot of things on that ride. The whole book, beautiful as it might be, is something of a hallucination, since it is the closest thing I've ever read that describes what goes on inside a racer's head in the middle of a long competition. In any case, I like the way the exhortation sounds. So...French. Fancy scarves and skinny baguettes, all wrapped up in the sort of funny, lilting endearment you might say to a child.

Allez, pou-pou!

Krabbe´ also recounts this story, during one of the moments when he isn't dreaming: The 1956 Giro d'Italia was so cold that rider Wout Wagtmans climbed off his bike in the middle of the race, went into a cafe´ and stuck his feet, shoes and all, into a bucket of hot water.

I thought about both of these things while I was out riding today, bundled up against the cold and damp. I wore toe warmers on my Sidis, but even so, I could imagine myself finding a warm cafe´ and asking for a bucket of hot water.

I could have stayed inside, I suppose, and ridden on the trainer. But besides finding the trainer mostly a bore, I felt I needed to test myself against the elements. In part, I'm preparing for doing another Bike Garden Challenge in 2014. No trainer miles will count, so I might as well start toughening up right now. Foul weather shall not stay my rounds.

The temperature today was in the mid-thirties, the wind a gentle, but chilling 10 miles per hour from the north. My feet were numb under the toe covers.

"Allez, pou-pou!" I whispered behind my balaclava, because on my bicycle, I am still a child. "Allez."

The Bike Garden Challenge is just around the corner. Get your checkbooks ready.