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