It’s that time of year again – support my ride

fatguy2Just in case you don’t realize it, this is a spoof of those emails you get from someone asking you to donate money because they are participating in some charity bike ride, walk or footrace.

Dear Friend,

I am riding in this year’s Tour de Al to help Stop Diabetes, Heart disease, Kidney disease, Hypertension, Obesity and Cancer. I have joined thousands of riders all across the country in this effort to improve our health through cycling.

By making a donation to me, you will be helping me change my life and improve my health, both physically and mentally.

My doctor has classified me as pre-diabetic. I have Hypertension (high blood pressure) which can lead to heart disease and kidney failure. I am overweight which contributes to these conditions. Cycling directly improves these conditions and assists with weight loss, so it is an important tool in my battle against those diseases. I don’t have Cancer, to my knowledge, but if I ever do, I know my chances of fighting it and surviving will be enhanced by being in good physical condition.

So you see you can fight all these diseases at once by supporting my cycling tour. All money goes directly to the victim of the disease. Not one cent goes to pay the overhead of a “charitable” organization.

Plus, your dollars will go further. Cycle touring is cost-efficient. My only expenses are my food, lodging and equipment expenses. Lodging is often inexpensive or free (camping) and food is cheap too. (I’m not one for fancy dining.)

Look, I’m not really asking for your donation to my cycling, but please realize that I choose not to contribute to your charity bike ride because I am putting my limited money where it will be directly applied to doing good for someone near and dear to me, me.

Go ahead and ride in your mass of humanity, kids and adults who ride a bike once a year, wobbling all over the place in a mass start of mechanical mayhem. While you ride your loop to “raise awareness” where you get water and food handed to you every mile, think about me, riding to actually get somewhere, like my recent 57 mile round trip from Lockport to Buffalo and back. Or my four-day, 100-mile, self-contained camping trip along the GAP trail in Pennsylvania.

I’m not putting down your choice of ride, walk, or run, I’ve done my share of them in the past. I even served on the committee that ran one, years ago. If it’s your idea of fun, then go for it and more power to you. Just pay the entry fee and chalk it up to entertainment cost. I wish you success. I’ve just seen these type of events grow to the point where they’ve lost all ability to impress anyone. The only “Awareness” they raise is among the participants and volunteers. The general public, though, has seen so many of these that they no longer get a blink of an eye. No one cares if you ride 10 miles or 100. That’s why no one pledges per mile any more. It’s all about your performance as a fundraiser, not as a cyclist. As long as you bring in the money, they don’t care if you leave the start line and make a beeline for the refreshments.

If it’s the cycling you want, then join one of the local bike clubs. They hold regularly scheduled rides all over the area. One boasts of several rides every day. You can ride and socialize with other riders in small groups of 10-25 riders and scenic areas selected for being good places to ride without the need for a police escort or volunteers directing traffic. (You’re riding a bike on a road. You ARE traffic. But that’s another subject.)

Posted in Cycle Tour, Cycling, Rants
3 comments on “It’s that time of year again – support my ride
  1. greggsansone says:

    My friend I am a distance runner and run 10s, 15s and 20 mile runs every other day. I supplement my running schedule with long distance cycling. My training will consist of riding to Chestnut Ridge Park from Amherst (18 miles), running 10 miles and then getting back on my bike and riding the 18 miles back home to Amherst. I am in amazing shape. I will either do the 62 or 100 mile ride this year for the Ride For Roswell. That said, it saddens me to think that you feel because someone is riding in a race [It’s not a race, it’s just a ride. That is a problem as well. – Ed.] for cancer just for fun or isn’t experienced like you or myself that is not important or, at least, not as valid as what you do. I applaud your efforts and think what you do is amazing. For whatever reason people participate in these events (even if it is to showboat) I feel it is positive. The alternative is deplorable. For some this is the only time they can participate and help raise money for whatever cause they are involved in. Again, an individual’s motives for riding is their own path and who am I to judge what they do? I am concerned with making sure my motives and actions are proper and good. Thank you again for your passion and your efforts.

    Gregg Sansone

  2. Al Gritzmacher says:

    Greg, I am not criticizing you for doing this ride (or any other event.) All I am saying is, if YOU wish to support it, YOU should do it by getting out YOUR checkbook and paying whatever you feel is appropriate.

    I am well aware that the expenses of running these events are just about covered by the entry fees. So be generous.

    But, YOU asked why out of X friends on FB, you only got one pledge. I offer my explanation: we’re ALL doing the same thing and after a while, in becomes a bit incestuous (financially) for me to ask you to contribute to my event, then you ask me in return.

    I posted the same link to my blog on my personal FB page with the tagline: Why would I pay you to ride your bike, when I do it for free? and got this response from a friend who is also an avid cyclist:

    Al, that was so well stated. Thats exactly how I feel. You forgot to mention the unmentionable. People in those mass mayhem rides do crash and break collar bones, arms, hip bones etc. I know 2 people who have. Who pays their medical bills. Not the ride foundation that’s for sure. I’m sure they’ll wish you a speedy recovery…. and when you do, can you make sure your fundraising check is in the mail. Are you running for Mayor of Lockport? You have my vote.

  3. Al Gritzmacher says:

    It occurs to me upon some thought that the problem is related to an old paradigm for fundraising that dates back to the 50s-60s or more.

    The old idea was to do some very difficult feat that most people would say is impossible for them to do. Then to do it on behalf of a cause and tell people that they will urge you on, or inspire you, to do this difficult feat, if they pledge money on your behalf to the cause.

    They used to tell you to pledge ten cents a mile or a dollar per mile and when you pooped out part way through the insurmountable feat, you would calculate what they owed and collect it.

    As time went by and people got more familiar with the format, after a while they just would say, “Oh, I’ll pay the full amount upfront and save you the trip back. It’s for a charity, after all.” Or some people never seemed to answer the door when it came time to collect. So the organizers stopped the per-mile, per-lap way of collecting and went to the pledge up front system.

    Then they decided it was too hard. “We should have a shorter event, so more people can participate.” they said. So, 10 mile bike rides, 1 mile walks etc. were added. After all, they brought in the same pledges.

    Many charitable groups saw this and decided it worked so well, that they should do their own event. Pretty soon there was some challenge event going on every weekend.

    All these events take a lot of manpower to put on. Manpower is expensive, so they use volunteers. The volunteers get satisfaction of helping the cause without the need to even do whatever the challenging task is.

    So, now the guy doing the insurmountable act gets these responses:
    “Oh, I gave to my niece. She’s doing that too.” (She’s riding her BMX bike on the 6 mile loop.)
    “I gave to the (other cause) last week. Sorry.” (It was actually last year, but oh well.)
    “Sure. I’ll donate if you reciprocate and give to my pet cause.” (Net exchange: zero.)
    “Oh. I’m working on that event. I’ll see you at the rest stop that’s far too early to be of any use to you and hand you a dixie cup of water that you don’t want.”

    These type of events worked initially because there was some Wow factor where people were amazed at the accomplishment and felt compelled to reward it.

    We’ve now made them so mainstream, so all-inclusive and so ubiquitous, that there is no longer any value to them as anything interesting. “Oh. You rode a hundred miles. Big deal.”

    And the real problem is that people, particularly in hard times, only have so much money to give away, regardless how compelling the cause is. And rightfully so. We all know someone who has had cancer. We all know someone who has diabetes. We all know someone who has or will have an organ transplant or dialysis. If we could remember all the initials, we’d probably remember that we know someone with MS, or MD, or ALS or some other acronym. It’s just too much. They’re all good causes and any death by any one of them is equally heartbreaking.

    But I think the mass application of these charity ride-walk-runs has lived out it’s usefulness and diluted their effectiveness. The entry fees for participants have gone up and up, no doubt to cover the expenses of the logistics of the event itself. Who do you think pays for the T-shirt you get?

    So have the required amount of pledges from each participant. They know that many won’t reach the minimum amount, especially after the percentage that don’t honor their promise, so they raise the requirement across the board. Let the ones who produce take up the slack.

    I used to enter some of these events, just paying the entry fee and pledge requirement myself. Now, that’s out of the question, but I’m not going to pester people for it so that I can have a good time on a bike ride. I’ll just ride on my own.

    Or, maybe I’ll go sit atop a flagpole and take pledges for each hour I can stay up there? I’ll bet enough people don’t remember that, so it will have some shock value!

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