Friday, May 8, 2009


This is it!  The LAST CHANCE BAKE SALE!  Team With A Purpose will be at Waverly Farmer's Market from 7am-noon on Saturday, May 9.  This also happens to be the day before Mother's Day!  Get Mom a "Decadent Chocolate Cake" (That is actually it's name!), a loaf of "Blackberry Apple Bread" or a variety of cookies, mini cakes, chocolate lollipops or several other baked goods.  And, of course, don't forget to pick up your weekly helping of fresh produce, dairy products and leftist literature!
Get a gift basket for Mom on her special day and tell her you were not only thinking of her but you supported a great cause too!
Special dietary options will also be available! These can include gluten free, sugar free and vegan baked goods!
"C'mon - you know you want some of this good stuff." - N. Schuster
- Pete
Captain, Team With A Purpose - We're Full Of It!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On two wheels or four, this chick is fierce!

Longtime rider and captain of Team Fierce Chicks Rock, Lisa Scotti, doesn't limit her athletic endeavors to two-wheeled sports. Check out this great article in to learn how Lisa has also made a name for herself on four wheels--as a Charm City Roller Girl. Roll on, Flo Shizzle!

Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

First-timer's report

I was thinking recently about the first time I did this ride. I was nervous and excited but having a hard time comprehending the length. A hundred miles! It's just so...looong.

Then I remembered a blog post that my Team Atomic teammate Jules wrote after her first time doing the ride, in 2006, in which she recapped her experiences mile-by-mile. I thought that new riders especially might like to read it. It really captures the physical and emotional ups and downs of spending 7 hours on a bike.

So, with Jules' permission, I've copied her blog post below. (FYI, the babies Jules refers to, Jack and Zoe, are the twins Jules gave birth to just 8 weeks before doing the ride. Also the volunteer she refers to, Lisa, will be riding for the second time this year!) Enjoy!

Chair, RFTF 2009
Arrived in Rehoboth. Am luckiest girl ever, since I have husband and babies by my side. Or more accurately, baby Jack strapped to my body, baby Zoe in front of me in a stroller, and husband Leslie trailing behind me with all my crap. Like I said, luckiest girl ever!

Enjoyed the pre-ride luau, although I must be honest with my friends at Moveable Feast: pasta salad and roast beef are not traditional luau foods. But who am I to be a purist? As long as I have carbs, I'm happy. And when some of those carbs come in the form of Guinness, I'm really happy!

After the luau, Leslie and the babies go across the street to the "Sea Esta" Motel (sea puns = one of man's most exalted humor forms. Don't believe me? I'll sea you in hell!). I stay behind at the Quality Inn, where I am supposed to get my first full night of sleep in two months.

Woke up 5:30, slept almost not at all. Oh well. Breakfast = tiny bagels and cheerios. Bike is ready, body is ready, mind is FREAKING OUT. But we take off, and somehow it all becomes okay. Some memories:

Mile 7 - Joey spots sign that says "boathole." We giggle for three miles.

Mile 12
- Discuss my Jan Ullrich obsession with ride marshall Kornell, who coincidentally works with Leslie in our tiny
tiny world. 2006 will be Jan's big year! Mark my words...

Mile 20
- First pitstop, where we see Lisa's glowing face peeking out from under a cow
boy hat adorned with flames. Lisa = angel of hope, patron saint of tired cyclists, who appears as a vision at pitstops the world over, always wearing a different novelty hat! Of course, I don't fully appreciate her yet, since I'm not tired. In fact, I'm actually worrying that the whole thing is going to be anticlimactic because it's TOO EASY! Hah!!!

Mile 22
- Watch Becky fade into the distance. When did she get so fast? When did she grow those legs?? I remember having to slow down for her back in the early days, and now I can't keep up. I beam with pride as she vanishes into her trail of smoke.

Mile 35
- Ride with Chris, talk about...what else? Bears! Chris doesn't like wildlife ("except dogs and cats"). So I seize the moment to tell him my Yellowstone bear story (which I won't recount here - just assume it ends with me heroically fighting off the bear).
He tells me about the Library's new "Sneaks the Cat" mascot suit. It has a fan in the head. I love Chris!

Mile 50
- Arrive in Seaford at the lunch stop, where I meet Leslie and the babies!!! I feed Zoe, snuggle with Jack, kiss Leslie, and almost entirely forget to eat. Oops - I'll be regretting that soon enough. But seeing my family there on t
he road gives me more strength than all the Powerbars on earth. I ride out in the full knowledge that I am the happiest and luckiest rider in the group. The winds of love fill my sails.

Mile 51
- Yeah, about those winds...the winds of love are no match for the winds of ass-kicking, which are
blowing straight into my face at 22mph. I've never even imagined wind like this. It's like riding up a long, painful, 50 mile hill. Yikes!

Mile 52
- I've decided to "pace myself," a choice which has once again left me in B
ecky's dust. This time Chris has gone with her. I turn to talk to Joey and he's nowhere to be seen. No wait - that tiny speck a mile back - that's him! I circle back and we ride together. The wind hurts, so we tell stories to try to forget our pain. I talk about the farm my mom grew up on and the manic hippie I met on my way home from Russia. He talks about crazy stuff that happened at the Ottobar last week. This is the good part, and it's the only thing keeping me moving. The bad part is that we are grinding down to a slower and slower pace, and may not reach Chesapeake college until next Tuesday. Two other guys have gotten sagged, and the sweep van is circling us like a vulture.

Mile 70
- We're the last to reach the mini-pitstop, and everyone else has gone on. Same pain, different strategies: Joey decides to rest a bit, I refill water and ride on. I'm like a shark: if I stop swimming, I'll die.

Mile 72
- I'm alone now, on a long straight road through a huge expanse of wheat
field. This is the only scenery I'll see for the next hour. I freakin' HATE wheat. I've picked up my pace quite a bit, but the wind is blowing so hard that if I stop pedaling even long enough to take a drink of water, I grind to a halt.

Mile 75
- I'm still alone, pla
ying little games with my odometer: "If I can just get to mile 76, I'll be all right. Okay, 75.1, that's 10% of the way there...75.12, that's 20% of the way to 75.2...that will be 20% of the way to 76...." You can see that my mind is gradually coming unraveled.

Mile 80
- I haven't seen a living soul since I left Joey at the mini-pitstop. Where the hell
is everyone? Where are the cars? Has the world ended? That's it! I'm trapped alone in this post-apocalyptic wheatfield, the last person on earth. Riding my bike through this infernal devil-wind in utter solitude, never to see another living being again. Oh well. If I can just get to mile 81, I'll be okay. 80.1, that's 10% of the way there...

Mile 82
- The last pitstop, and it turns out the world hasn't ended!!! I've NEVER been happier to see other people in my life. Becky and Chris are there with smiles and cheers and Powerbars
, and Saint Lisa's halo is positively glowing! And it bears a strange resemblance to a pirate hat. I consume many snacks - who knew Fritos were so good?? Joey arrives - needs a break, will meet us at the last mini-pit. Then we take off into the wind. I beg my team never to leave me again.

Mile 85
- Turns out I didn't need to beg - I hadn't been as far behind everyone else as I'd thought. Everyone was slowed down by the wind, and there is a large group riding more or less together. Ah, I've never felt such love for my fellow man!!

Mile 92
- We reach the last mini-pit, and Joey rejoins us - Team Atomic rides
again!! I see pain in Becky's face, and in my delirious state I say inane things to try to cheer her up. She makes quizzical faces and moans. I think she likes me! But soon I run out of fun, and I'm back to the odometer game - the difference now is that I KNOW I'll make it.

Mile 101
- The endpoint is in sight, and all the remaining riders have congregated at the last stoplight so we can ride in, triumphant, together. But where's Joey? He's fallen behind and I was too tired to notice. Everyone outside of the team wants to go ahead and get it over with, but we want Joey! The group is about to give up and take off when he rides like a bat out of hell around the corner. Joey heroic!! Woohoo!!!

Mile 102.6
- We ride into Chesapeake College to deafening cheers. Tears, cheers, pictures, a
nd a bad cellphone connection to Leslie and the babies. I hug Becky - my friend, my confidante, my training partner, the woman who almost stopped being my friend the first time I tricked her into riding a mile uphill, who just now rode 102 miles through the winds of hell. I hug Joey - my inspiration, the veteran rider who made me believe that this entire crazy endeavor was possible in the first place, not just for elite athletes, but for normal people with jobs and lives. And I warn Chris - my new friend and beloved teammate - that I'm going to hug him just like a bear, then I do!

That evening we eat outside, and everything tastes like the best thing ever. We laugh, we talk about Fritos - the best snack food ever. We take the best showers ever. Our team is part of the wild crowd - we hang out with some other riders and supporters, we each drink one beer and stay up until 10:20. As our compatriot Derek put it, "tonight we're gonna party like it's 1959." Then we go to sleep on the floor of the gym - you guessed it - the best gym floor ever.

We sleep in until 6:30, eat massive amounts of bacon for breakfast, board buses to get ourselves safely over the Bay Bridge to Sandy Point State Park. I'm in denial about getting back on my bike today. Kornell tells us that the best part of this morning is watching everyone's faces as they put their butts back on their saddles for the first time. Hoodaddy!

Mile 0
- Actually, it's not as bad as I'd feared. We ride out as a group, feeling strong.

Mile 1
- Holy crap, there are HILLS out here!

Mile 3
- I'm riding with Becky, Chris and Joey are a little way back. We're slogging up a hill, and I turn to talk to her. She's way behind me, so I slow down. Suddenly, my quads are on fire and my calves are locking up. I'm feeling way too much burn to do this - if I'm going to get through this, it's gotta be quick. Like a field amputation. So I blo
w a kiss to Becky, and I'm on my own again.

Mile 14
- I show up at the first pit stop in record time, greeted by smiling Saint Lisa, feeling pretty good. I hang around long enough to make sure that the rest of the team is okay: Joey and Chris are in an looking strong, Becky is taking a break. I'm off - keep swimming, shark...

Mile 29
- Many big scary hills later, I find myself in Carroll park, where I'm greeted by
Becky, Lisa, and...the Easter Bunny? It's not a hallucination, it's a plushie! We're more or less done, so we hang out, eat snacks, put on our official ride shirts and Mardi Gras beads. Joey and Chris ride in looking great - the team's all here!! We did it!!!

Mile 31
- The whole group rides back to Moveable Feast HQ together, all wearing our red shirts, all looking great. There is a crowd of maybe 100 people in front of the church
cheering for us, but it feels like we're rock stars walking into a stadium full of screaming fans.

I'm now crying too hard to see, trying not to kill anyone as I ride through the crowd to the double stroller I've spotted on the far side. Leslie hands me Zoe, who looks bewildered as I kiss her again and again. I trade her for Jack, who looks suspicious, but nonetheless tolerates being hugged without mercy. Leslie tells me how proud he is of me, and I fall sobbing into his arms. We have so many friends there - Lisa, Karen, Beth, Steve, Roberta, the Abernathys, probaby others I was too delirious to register. I believe I am the happiest person alive.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We have achieved cookie!

Today started out better than I could have imagined--with an email about cookies! For the second year in a row, Otterbein's Bakery will be donating cookies for us to distribute to our riders at pit stops. Yay! Thanks, Otterbein's! Your chocolate chips make a long ride feel just a little bit shorter.

What's your favorite Otterbein cookie?

Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

This is what volunteering looks like

I led Sunday's 23-mile training ride through Quiet Waters Park and around suburban Annapolis. The sun was out, the previous day's biblical winds had died down, the company was fine, and the views were perfect. Debbie asked if I lived in the area, figuring that must be why I volunteered to lead the rides in the Annapolis area. I think by the end of our ride, she understood that volunteering to cruise in the early Spring sunshine along the water, smelling the sweet honeysuckle and the savory shoreline and the fresh-cut grass was hardly a selfless act on my part. My only disappointment was having to rely on my cameraphone to take pictures, having failed to remember my proper camera. I'll be leading this ride again during the training season. In fact, it's our last training ride before the big Ride weekend--definitely a nice way to wind down and relax before heading to Rehoboth to take on the eastern shore.

Chair, RFTF2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Work: what happens between two great weekends

Last Saturday's training ride was preceded by a bike maintenance clinic at Joe's Bike Shop in Mt. Washington and followed by a pot-luck brunch and orientation at the home of RFTF co-chair, Jules. Between Joe's humorous take on tire inflation and the various uses of bacon demonstrated at the brunch, it hardly mattered it rained non-stop during the training ride between them. (I just hope my SIDI shoes will dry out before spin class tonight.) Thanks to everyone who came to the clinic, ride, or orientation. It was great to meet new riders and reconnect with returning riders.

Speaking of Joe, at the post-ride orientation, he said something interesting about fundraising for an event like this. As a local business owner, he gets dozens of requests for help from organizations and individuals involved in charity events--too many to help them all. He explained that he chose to be part of our event when he saw the level of commitment from our riders and volunteers. By pledging to reach specific goals (riding 140 miles, raising $1200), and by doing it in such a grass-roots way (100% of profits going to Moveable Feast, no big event planning company taking a percentage of what we've raised), we send a clear message about the importance of Moveable Feast to our community. We're not just in it for the tee shirt; as Joe said, "you guys are what charity rides are supposed to be." Right back at you, Joe--you guys are what a local bike shop is supposed to be.

This coming weekend, we've got two great training rides scheduled: one on Saturday around Loch Raven Resevoir, and one on Sunday around Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. (The full, detailed training schedule is on the
Ride for the Feast website.) Fingers crossed for better weather than last weekend. Both routes are lovely, and even though the worst day on the bike is better than the best day in the office, I'd still rather there be sun...

Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Persistent Pedaler Happy Hour in D.C. - Thursday April 9th

One of our team members (Carey) has arranged for a happy hour fund raiser event in D.C on Thursday 4/9 at Science Club. There will be great drink specials and a totally sweet raffle for a bunch of awesome and exciting prizes. Note the number of positive adjectives in the previous sentence.

If any riders/supporters/enthusiasts are in the area, we would love for you to come and hang out with us. Come help support our cause and raise awareness for a terrific organization.  The raffle will feature a number of items that I promise you will want very badly so make sure to bring tons of cash to buy tickets for it. 100% of the money collected will go to Moveable Feast.

Thursday April 9th
6PM - 9PM
Science Club
1136 19th St NW
Second Floor.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Team With A Purpose at Max's Taphouse

Our Purpose Is All About Beer This Weekend!

Two Nights Only!
This Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28

Max's Taphouse
737 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231
in Historic Fells Point, Baltimore

Join us and you could be full of it too -- full of great beer!

Max's staff will be collecting donations at the door while we can enjoy our time at one of the best beer bars in the world. Join us and enjoy Max's 80 rotating drafts and over 500 bottled beers. No cover to enter Max's and no pressure to donate to Team With A Purpose (But we'd sure appreciate it!).

Come have a fun evening and raise a glass, funds and awareness to Ride for the Feast, Moveable Feast and Team With A Purpose! We'll be the ones wearing bike helmets! We're riding 140 miles over 2 days. We're not drinking, we're carb-loading!

If you can't make it tonight TWAP will be back at Max's tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, too.

How I got involved with Ride For The Feast - a riders perspective

I first heard of Moveable Feast when I was working for HERO.  For those that don't know HERO, it was a non-profit organization that provided HIV/AIDS-related services. It was the largest recipient of Ryan White funds in Maryland.  They did a lot of good work but there were several internal issues that led to it's eventually closure in late 2008.  Moveable Feast prepared and delivered meals to many of the clients of HERO.  Some received home deliveries and many received hot meals for dinner at HERO before it would close for the day.

HERO also ran the Baltimore AIDSWalk in which I participated.  While still working there many things came to light that made me less inclined to take part in the AIDWalk and I searched for something I could do that would help this same community and involve some form of outdoor activity.  I found the Ride For The Feast and Moveable Feast.  I was impressed with the work that I had seen Moveable Feast doing while working at HERO and as I looked up more information I became more interested in them.

I've done the ride now for 5 years and am looking forward to my 6th ride.  I continue to be impressed with the work done by Moveable Feast and by the volunteers they attract.  I've become much more involved with the Ride and have participated in the planning and am trying to help with the rider recruitment.  Last year I started a team with some of my friends who were also, unfortunately, some of my donors!  The ride has been great fun and really draws a fantastic and diverse group of people.  It's something I look forward to every spring.

Getting back in the saddle is always a challenge but I feel great by the time everything is done.  I want to encourage everyone to keep involved and have some fun along the way.  Moveable Feast does a great job of supporting the riders.  They also provide great meals along the way.  As I heard a rider say, "This is the only century ride where I think I GAINED weight!"  Who can resist with that kind of praise?

Keep riding, keep fundraising, keep supporting, keep helping and keep having fun!

-- Pete Castro
Co-Chair, Rider Recruitment Committee
Captain, Team With A Purpose - We're Full Of It!

Ugh! It's raining and I'm on my bike!!

Considering the weather forecast for this weekend is calling for rain it seems like a good time to write about riding bikes when it's wet outside.

I'm a fair weather rider and I don't do rain unless I have to. There are times when I don't have a choice, like the Sunday leg of last year's Ride for the Feast. Wow! It really rained hard last year. So here are a few things to consider when riding in the rain:
- There is just no way to be dry on a bicycle in the rain. Don't worry about wearing something that will keep you dry. Wear something that will hold your body heat in when it's wet. Wool is great for this - especially wool socks. Nylon shell jackets work well too. Last year I wore a thing that looked like a shower cap over my helmet. Actually, I think it was a bowl cover, but you get my drift. It had a very high dork factor rating but it really kept my head warm and was easy to carry in my back pocket before it started raining.
- Slow down and stay as close to vertical as possible on turns.
- Wet brakes don't work well. Allow for extra stopping distance.
- Avoid slippery things - especial when braking. These include painted lines, manhole covers, metal plates, sand, gravel, grass, and oily spots in the center areas of lanes.
- Stay farther away from fellow riders to avoid spray and allow extra space for maneuvers and stopping.
- Keep repeating: "I like riding in the rain. I like riding in the rain. I like riding in the rain." Hey, it worked for Dorothy.

When you're done riding in the rain give your bike a gentle but thorough washing. It is especially important to clean your bike's brake pads and relube your chain. Look for excessive wear on your brake pads. Rain and dirt form a slurry between your pads and rim causing pads to wear down rapidly.

Any other thoughts on riding in the rain?

Stay vertical,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

If I'm gonna write, I have to slow down

This past weekend was full of Ride for the Feast fun, and the upcoming weekend promises even more.

I tried in vain to get up on Saturday in time to get to the Team With A Purpose bake sale at Waverly Market before hitting the Patterson Park training ride. I just couldn't do it, even for their delicious treats. Fortunately, they'll be there again a few more times. (Pete, I hope there's biscotti!)

What I did wake up in time for was the training ride. Saturday was unfairly cold for a month that, based on how it began, should be going out like a lamb. Our plan had been to ride from Patterson Park to North Point Beach, but our ride leader, correctly assuming that a beach is less interesting in 30-degree weather, steered us to Fort Howard Park instead. Once again, the question came up that has come up on the other Baltimore City-based rides: Who knew? Who knew Fort Howard was there, and was so awesome, and had such warm public restrooms? Who knew people lived on the water in places other than Annapolis?

I knew these things in theory, I suppose (well, not about the warm bathrooms), but knowing about a neighborhood is far different from casually rolling through it at 10am on a Saturday morning. People out getting their mail or bringing their trash cans back from the curb want to wave to you, chat with you, know where you're going and why. Baltimore already has a bit of a small-town feel to it, but cycling through it makes it feel even smaller, but also richer and more complex.

After the ride, I headed to the Moveable Feast offices just north of Patterson Park for a volunteer day. The staff invited in riders and other community members to tour the facility, work in the kitchen, and just generally see what the organization is all about. Ted, the RFTF Coordinator, described this experience well:

I think all of us were inspired by 2 of our speakers, Harriett – a former client of Moveable Feast, and Lewis – a current client of Moveable Feast. They both shared their stories with us and told us why Moveable Feast is important to them. For Lewis, it’s the food that we provide him that sustains him and helps him to maintain his health. But it’s also the loving care that he receives from our dietitians and the visits that they make to his home. Lewis recently moved and our staff has been working hard to find him things so he can furnish his home. He told us how our dietitians call him frequently to say hello, to check in on him, and to ask him health questions to be sure that he is getting good nutrition.

Harriet shared her story of how when she was a client, Moveable Feast really saved her life and helped keep her family together by not only feeding her, but by feeding her children. Once she got healthier, she came to Moveable Feast to volunteer and is now one of our drivers.

Both Harriet and Lewis tirelessly work to advocate for people living with HIV. In fact, both of them will be with us on the bike ride – Harriett will be part of our crew and Lewis hopes to ride. What an inspiration they both are.

I hope that Harriett and Lewis can inspire all of us in our fundraising. Moveable Feast is depending on this Ride to raise the funds that are needed to provide our services to people who are sick. My hope is that with the food and nutrition that we provide to our clients, more of them will be able to live like Harriett and Lewis – getting back to work and involved with their families and the community.

Were Harriet and Lewis inspirational? Times infinity. They will keep me going through spin class tonight at Meadow Mill, and for them, I will have no problem waking up for this Saturday's training ride.

In fact, Saturday is more than just a training ride--it will begin with a clinic at Joe's Bike Shop. Joe will be talking to us about whether clipless pedals are more awesome than terrifying, what the difference is between $30 bike shorts and $130 bike shorts, and what to do if the only thing we know how to use on our multitool is the bottle opener. Joe has been a great supporter of RFTF, and we're so glad to have him working with us again this year. In addition to leading this weekend's clinic, Joe will be providing tech support during RFTF weekend; he'll be following us in his car from Rehoboth to Baltimore City, ready to change a tire, adjust a derailleur, or give a lift to a rider who just needs a little break and a big laugh. Thanks, Joe!

Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Riding with new friends and partying with the old ones

This weekend was full of ride activity and a pretty good indicator of how busy the rest of the Spring will be...

Saturday morning started with the first official training ride for RFTF 2009. In the past, most of our training rides have been held in either north Baltimore suburbs or various towns around and south of Annapolis--the shoulders are wide and the scenery is lovely. However, one of our new riders is an experienced urban cyclist and city resident. With his help (thanks, Jim!), we added some Baltimore City training rides to our schedule.

Since Saturday's ride was the first of the season for many, it was on the short side--a loop of only about 10 miles. However, moments after rolling out, it was clear that Jim, our ride leader, had made sure that little 10-mile loop hit every hill in the city limits. Switchbacks? In Baltimore? Really? It's been a long time since I've needed to stop and catch my breath on a 10-mile ride, but this route really got our heart rates up and presented a chance to test every gear our bikes offered.

Our starting point was the the 7-11 parking lot in Hampden. The turnout was great for an early season ride on a chilly, damp Saturday; I think there were 13 of us, including several new riders. (Welcome!) Before heading out, Jim ran through some of the differences between urban and suburban riding. He then walked us through the route, which highlighted one of the greatest features of city living, in my opinion: in just 10 miles, we'd ride through 5 different neighborhoods, see a well-known college campus, pass through two residential areas and a commercial area, and enjoy several acres of greenspace.

I was especially amazed at how many of those areas I'd never even driven through. From Hampden, we headed soutwest to the JHU campus, down Charles to the Station North district, made our way to the Jones Falls trail, followed it through Druid Park into Clipper Mill, which led back to Hampden. Druid Park? Gorgeous! I don't live far from it and couldn't tell you why I've never been there, but I'll be back for sure. In fact, a couple of local riders and I are talking about doing this route or some variation on it during the week after work once it starts staying light a bit later. The route is short enough that it can be busted out in under an hour, but the hills provide a nice, challenging counterpoint to the longer, flatter weekend rides we'll be doing as the training season progresses.

In addition to stimulating my heart rate, the morning's ride stimulated my appetite. Fortunately, our training program coordinator, Steve, was hosting a little cycling season kick-off party that evening for his cycling buddies; fortunately, that included past Ride for the Feasters like me! Once I'd inhaled a huge bowl of chili and a couple of pieces of cornbread, I had a good time seeing old friends from past Rides for the Feast, as well as meeting new friends and hearing about their riding adventures! The cycling community is one of the friendliest I've ever been a part of--no one cares whether you're a road racer or a weekend mountain biker as long as you love riding! Even better that so many of us doing it are united by the common goal of helping Moveable Feast.

I was especially excited to run into some folks from Team With A Purpose and learn that they will be holding their deviously delicious bake sale fundraisers at Waverly Market starting this coming weekend. It is my firm belief that the calories in cupcakes don't count when they are consumed for charity...

Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Memories of majorette boots

I met Rosanne at my babysitter's house when I was about 4 or 5 years old. She had long, shiny hair, perfectly parted in the center just like Marsha Brady's, and short white majorette boots with tassels on the front. Along with her school books, she carried a shiny silver baton. She was older--not a grown-up, but the age conjured by the phrase "big sister" when you are 4 or 5 years old. She was at my babysitter's house because she was friends with the babysitter's teenage son. I idolized her immediately.

Any day at the babysitter's house when Rosanne was there became an extra-special day. Although she was there to see the babysitter's son, she had a way of making it seem as if she'd come to hang out with me. So many spring afternoons were spent in the babysitter's backyard with Rosanne showing me dance steps (she studied jazz, tap, and ballet), or putting my hair in braids, or teaching me to twirl the baton. This was no easy task; as a 5-year old, I didn't have the manual dexterity to twirl it through my fingers the way she did--the way that made it look less like a short metal pole and more like a firework. With endless patience, she helped me master a way of twirling from the wrist that was easier for my tiny, uncoordinated self. With this new skill, I could begin to imagine that I might someday have short, white majorette boots of my own...

Several years later, when I was 10 and Rosanne was 21, the babysitter's son asked her to marry him and she said yes. (Looking back, that seems so young for them to have gotten married, but I guess maybe people married younger back then. And they had been friends since middle school, so it seemed really right to everyone.) Rosanne asked my mom if she thought I would like to be a "junior bridesmaid" in the wedding. (She might have asked me to be a flower girl, but at 10 years old I was already nearly 5'8"--several inches taller than the bride-to-be--and she felt that the title of "flower girl" belonged to someone smaller, if not younger, than I was.)

"Junior Bridesmaid" was no empty title. At an age where I felt awkward and gawky and tomboyish and out of place everywhere, she declared me mature and graceful enough to enter the glamorous adult world of trying on gowns and picking out shoes and imagining what song she and the babysitter's son would first dance to. She asked my opinion and listened to it. She expected me to help tie bundles of Jordan almonds in white mesh with ribbon right along with the other bridesmaids. And just as she did with the other bridesmaids, she thanked me with a gift of a small gold heart necklace engraved with my initials. It was intoxicating, being treated as person instead of as a kid. I wanted to be like her in every possible way--not just when I grew up, but right then.

After the wedding, Rosanne and the babysitter's son moved out to a suburb and my family moved to a different suburb and we all lived our lives and hardly saw each other since we no longer walked past each others houses every day when we were out and about. My mom would run into Rosanne from time to time at the grocery store, and she and the babysitter's son came to my high school graduation party and my brother's wedding, and I may have gone to their daughter's baptism. At some point I heard that Rosanne opened a dance studio, which meant she was making other little girls feel special by teaching them ballet or how to twirl a baton, and that made me happy. Later I heard she became a nursing assistant, which meant she was also making sick people feel special by providing them comfort, and that, too, made me happy. But it's easily been 20 years since I've seen her.

Still, I think of her from time to time--usually when digging through my jewelry box and coming across that gold heart necklace from all those years ago. And I've been thinking about her non-stop since my mom called a couple of days ago to tell me that Rosanne had passed away. Usually I roll my eyes when I answer the phone and hear my mom say, "You'll never believe who died..." because it's always someone I barely remember, like my second-grade piano teacher's nephew's wife whose name I never knew. But this was different. When I heard the name Rosanne, the memories rushed in a flood: the white tasseled boots, the dusty backyard, the baton spinning and flashing in the sun like a sparkler.

My heart broke when I learned her death was preceded by a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She'd kept her illness hidden from all but her immediate family because she didn't want anyone to worry. I thought about how common that must be in families where the caregiver suddenly needs significant care. It must be difficult for a wife and a mom and a teacher and a nurse to stop thinking about other people's needs, even as her own needs are proving insurmountable.

Moveable Feast provides meals to people living with HIV/AIDS or undergoing treatment for breast cancer. For as long as they've been able, they've also provided meals to the families of the person in treatment. The need for that extra level of service always seemed obvious to me--people caring for someone with a serious illness have so much to think about things like meal planning wold surely take a back seat. But Rosanne's death made me realize that by serving the families of the patient, Moveable Feast is serving the patient as well. They are providing the patient with peace of mind through the knowledge that their loved ones are still being cared for. There's not a doubt in my mind that Rosanne thought more than once during her illness about whether her husband was getting enough to eat, or that she would be comforted by the regular delivery of a nutritious meal to his door. It has become more clear to me than ever before that Moveable Feast needs to be able to continue to provide services for as long as the need for them exists.

When I started this blog, I figured I'd be writing about training rides and fundraising parties. But two days ago, everything about this year's Ride for the Feast changed for me. Now I know that this year, I'll be riding for Rosanne.

Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

So THAT'S how it feels when you haven't been to spin class all winter...

Welcome to Blog for the Feast 2009! Planning for the 2009 Ride for the Feast (RFTF) is happening in full force. This year we are getting down with technology where and whenever possible to promote the Ride. We're Twittering fundraising events, training rides, ride orientations, etc. And now we've got this blog, where I'll be writing about prepping for this event.

Like last night, when I talked myself into going to spin class. Don't get me wrong, I love spinning with Teresa at Meadow Mill. (Ok, "love" might be a strong word for the hurt she serves, but she's super nice and plays good music.) But I'm recovering from a lower back injury and yesterday was only my first totally pain free day. I wasn't sure that ending with spin class would be a good idea, but I had these new cycling shoes I wanted to try and as so often happens in my life, the shoes won.

In the end, I'm glad they did. With RFTF fast approaching, I wanted and needed to get back on a bike--even a stationary one. I've been doing a lot (for me) of yoga, but I hadn't been spinning or riding in months and I knew I was deconditioned. About 15 minutes into class, I realized that I'd already drained almost an entire water bottle. I thought, "I am screwed." But I just let myself have a little more warm-up time before joining the rest of the class in hand position number 3 and sure enough, I was fine. Then better than fine--happy. Then, exhausted--but excited. This was just the first of many, many spin classes and outdoor rides that will be part of my RFTF training, and I'm stoked to feel myself getting stronger and especially to see friends I haven't ridden with since last year.

Chair, Ride for the Feast 2009