There will be Spandex. There will be chin straps. There will be sore rear-ends and rubbery legs. There will be fun . . . and a lot of money raised for good causes.
This coming Saturday, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation holds its 2nd Annual River Ride Bike-a-Thon and Family Fun Ride.
The Family Fun Ride is a 5-mile trek, while the Bike-a-Thon is a 15-mile ride looping along the Merrimack River in Lowell and Tyngsboro.
“Fundraising is not something that comes to me naturally, but riding a bike, I could do that for hours,” said Sovanna Devin Pouv, a board member of the Angkor Dance Troupe, who rode with a team to raise money to produce the Troupe’s Apsara Dancing Stones show last year.
The group was involved in a lot of fundraising, but none as much fun as the bike-a-thon. They created a team made up of board members, dancers, staff and friends; had team jerseys made and bombarded social media to solicit support.
“Additionally we were able to meet other wonderful organizations from around the area and learn more about the work they’re doing,” added Pouv. “It was a very fun and community building event where I’m proud to say Team Angkor will be participating again this year.”
Other organizations with teams pedaling for a cause this year include the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell, who are raising funds for their music program; the Lowell Community Health Center; the New England Quilt Museum; the Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra; Habitat for Humanity; and many others.
Last year, community organizations raised $25,000 – by going for a bike ride.
Julia Gavin, a writer at UMass Lowell and board member of the Arts League of Lowell is riding for the first time this year to raise money for the new education program ALL is launching.
“The event is the same day at the start of Lowell Open Studios so this is also my way, as a non-artist, of celebrating the weekend,” she said. “I think it’s a great event because it’s active and it gets a lot of the city’s non-profit groups in one area to show how large the community is and how many Lowellians are dedicated to these organizations.”
One of last year’s riders, John Wooding, a Political Science professor at UMass Lowell and Chairman of the Cultural Organization of Lowell, sent me the following essay about his experience. It’s so entertaining I just couldn’t butcher it for quotes, so I’m running it as is. For those who do not know, Dr. Wooding is British, so when you read this essay please do so in a British accent.
Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s Bike-a-Thon 2012
by John Wooding
Getting my bike out of the car. A bit chilly. Wandering if I can do this – haven’t ridden in over a year. But people in parking lot. Bikes everywhere, and smiling volunteers. Sense of excitement. A very diverse crowd. Lots of kids with parents and folks from all the communities of Lowell. Some people wearing spandex (looking serious) with expensive machines. Some older folks, maybe even older than me (thank God!). Lots of friendly faces, all riding for a cause.
We get ready to go, helmets on and some good-natured jibes and competition. We are off, trying not to crash into each other at the start. We quickly thin out and the Serious Ones are already 5 blocks ahead. I start pedaling, trying to remember how to change gear……into some neighborhoods I hadn’t seen before and I remember how much fun it is to ride. Volunteers on every corner, cheering us on and shouting directions. It really helps.
Half way (how far is 15 miles?) now. A little rain, legs getting tired, some young kids ahead of me with all the energy of youth. I will never catch ’em but that’s OK. Across the bridge, volunteers yelling 4 more miles. I think my legs have died. No idea whether I am last, first or in the middle and trying to remember the route. Pass a couple of folks, show them whose boss! Then I realize I am going the wrong way. Ooops. Nearly there and being cheered as I get to the end. Folks standing by their bikes drinking water, already finished. But I am not last! Lots of mutual support. Get off my bike (slowly). Bum hurts, legs are tired. I will probably never walk straight again. But it was a lot of fun and I raised a load of money for COOL. This is what it should be about – getting some exercise, seeing a new Lowell, raising money for the things we believe in, the things we care about.
For more information about the Bike-a-Thon, including how to donate to a team (or 6) visit www.http://glcf.dojiggy.com.