Why Do You Ride?
Written by Kymberly Byers, December 2018
An easy question to answer until you stop and think about it for a moment. The reasons I ride today are drastically different than the reasons on my first Tuesday evening at Kreager Park. And those reasons were different than when I purchased my first new bicycle and even that reason was different than when I bought a garage sale bicycle to begin my cycling journey. So why do I ride?
I ride because I feel good when the earth is passing beneath my wheels. I ride because I feel empowered by the miles. My friends ride, so I ride. I ride for tacos on Tuesdays and exploring on Thursdays. I ride to chase sunsets, and an occasional sunrise. I ride to fill my soul with the beauty and grandeur of our earth. I ride to escape myself, and sometimes the world. I ride because that is what I do, but one thing is for certain, I do not have to ride as my only mode of transportation like so many people must do.
When I followed Phil Snyder to the Heart of the City Mission to see if I could help one Friday morning, the first thing that stood out, was that the patrons of the mission needed their bicycles to get around. The amount of need that the HOTC fills is very dramatic, and I walked away from that first Friday feeling as if the riding I do is a privilege. Continuing to return to help, I learned that HOTC not only repairs bicycles, but has an Earn A Bike program, in which through a few hours of volunteering, a person can earn a bicycle. Imagine being able to earn your only mode of transportation in the short span of a couple of weeks. HOTC also offers a skills program towards becoming a bicycle mechanic, a program that I have been taking advantage of. Also, HOTC has a food bank, offers tutoring, music lessons and even a laundry room, so that a family doesn’t have to choose between food on the table and clean clothes. The more I hung around the Heart of the City Mission, the more I felt the weight of the need. But what more could I offer?
The answer came on a Wednesday evening, in the form of craft beer while listening to Andrew Gritzmaker talk about his participation in the Trans Am Bicycle Race and his efforts to raise money for the Mad Anthony’s Hope House. All of a sudden, the answer to “What more can I offer?” was staring me in the face. “Those that can, have a responsibility to do”, was repeatedly upon my heart in the days that followed Andrew’s presentation. It was then that my mission became clear. I would race the Trans Am to raise money for the Heart of the City Mission.
Many serious cyclists that I have talked to or ridden with have dreamt at one point or another about riding from coast to coast across America. I know I have more than once. But racing from shore to shore would go against the very fabric of the totally relaxing bike packing trips I have completed the past couple of Septembers. Of course, my relaxing trip this past September earned me the win for the women and second overall in the September Distance Challenge. This has also fueled my desire to race across the country.
After serious inquiry, the creation of a budget and a training plan, and talking with a few people about how to proceed with the simple idea of raising awareness and funding for HOTC through my bicycle riding, I have begun the process of entering the world’s longest, non-stop, self-supported bicycle race. On November First, I was formally invited to participate in the 2019 Trans Am Race.
Having made it on to the roster, I need your help, just like the patrons of Heart of the City need our help. I need your support and encouragement. I need help to raise awareness of HOTC and everything that the mission quietly accomplishes. I have gained so much since that Tuesday evening when I finally mustered the courage to ask if I could ride with you, and I will never be able to repay the debt I owe to 3RVS for changing the trajectory of my life. It is now time for me to pay it forward, and I ask you to join me in supporting the Heart of the City Mission.