2021 - A Year in Review
So much love and kudos in the Tucson air!
Not one, not two, but three local Tucson publications gave kudos to our lovely ED, Sharon Madison, and to the generosity of the WR4 membership. Why? Well, Valentine's Day came a day early for the Pueblo Warriors when they received their team jerseys compliments of We Ride 4 Denver and We Ride 4 Tucson. Sharon and chief ambassador John Genell, and some of the members from both of the organization's chapters helped distribute jerseys plus fixed-up bikes to use on their first ride as an official team. The Pima County Health Department joined forces with WR4 and donated trainers and other gear so students can use Zwift at home and school too. TJ Juskeiwicz, El Tour de Tucson ED, didn't quite know that his introductions to WR4 and Pueblo Warriors would become an overnight sensation. Sharon sums it up, "It's making life better for everyone in this partnership!"
Oh, and to add to the fun, Ernesto Somoza, sponsor of the club, had 5 flat tires on the 30-mile ride on the virgin ride. Guess what happened then? Sharon got members to raise enough money to get the much-needed new tires for the kids' bikes and Mr. Somoza’s!
Luck be with you…The leprechauns were busy this month!
Somebody's got to change out the old tires for the new ones coming from WR4's generosity in February. Head Leprechauns' Kerstin and Marty Albe from Evergreen Bike Shop in Colorado, with their mechanic Cameron, spearheaded a bike-tuning event on 3/8 and 3/9 with many other WR4 volunteers in attendance. The students' bikes were tuned, and new tires and tubes were installed. Roger Kennedy and John Genell became known as "scrub masters" extraordinaire because the cassettes looked brand new when they were done scrubbing.
This month the Pueblo Warriors have committed to training for the El Tour de Tucson in November. Right now, the students have set their sights on a mock El Tour in May. Junior student Isaac is showing the world what he's all about—— yes, he was the last student standing on the March endurance ride. A newer cyclist and he rode over 50 miles. We were thrilled to see such strides from this young man. The other students tasted the thrill that comes from "going for it" on the bike. We loved seeing their smiles too. We must keep the momentum going now that we don't have to deal with too many flats.
Back in Denver, WR4 coordinated with Tim Baker and Dave Edwards from Primal Wear, Inc., where Primal donated hats, t-shirts, and socks to the Pueblo Warrior students. Ernesto will use these gifts as incentives to keep the kids rolling! TJ Juskiewicz put the "frosting on the cake" by donating medals to be given out to the students as they show improvement.
Don't you think that the "luck be with you" is with all of us in this beautiful partnership?
Finally, Less Zwift, More Outdoor Rides for the Denver Chapter!
What happens when more of us are vaccinated and CDC has stopped requiring masks outdoors? Of course, WR4 added outdoor rides into the Team Snap calendar for the upcoming season with great anticipation to show off our pink and blue colors on our team rides and events. As a bonus for the season's first rides, pals were seen giving the long-awaited hugs since so many of us had been vaccinated, and CDC had lifted the mask requirements for outdoors. Sharon was on it to get the WR4 tent and chairs ordered for the summer events—- and, yes, just like our jerseys, you can't miss the tent's pink and blue colors among the other tents at the large events.
Still not enough light and not enough warmth for the weeknight rides to startup—- so, our fearless Zwift leaders charged on with leading Zwift rides. Thanks to Gina Lotito, Sharon Madison, Matt Jonsen, and Jon Moore for keep on keeping on!
Happy 1st Anniversary to We Ride 4 and Happy Birthday to Sharon!
In just one year, WR4 has 300+ members. Because of our size and the generosity of our membership, we were able to give significant donations to our two non-profits: Cottonwood Institute in Denver and Pueblo Road Warriors in Tucson. We've also volunteered for both of these organizations so we can be part of the solution—- getting children outside, exercising, and connecting to things that motivate them.
Before our Executive Director and Chief Ambassador came back to Denver, they wanted to be sure to put a period on the wonderful partnership that had come to be over the winter months with the Pueblo Road Warriors. They decided to plan a mock Tour de Tucson for the students to motivate them to keep training for next November's event. They set up two routes— a 30 mile one and a 75 mile one. Isaac was up the challenge and made the entire 75 miles with support from some of the WR4 crew—- Gregg Spahn, Pamela Powell, Sharon Madison, and John Genell alongside Ernesto Somoza, coach of the Pueblo Road Warriors. The other kids were just as jazzed with their accomplishments. A big SHOUT OUT to Jeanne Spahn for setting up five aid stations with food and water along the course.
And, we can't forget the grand birthday celebration at Reynolds Landing parking lot when almost 80 of us broke into singing Happy birthday to our fearless leader, the one and only Sharon Madison. We lit up Deer Creek for sure with our colors and again lit up the Brewery, where we toasted a few beers for the birthday celebration.
Showing Off Our True Colors
How many cycling clubs in Colorado can say they had 70 members show up for the Elephant Rock,2021? That would be WR4! We spread out over the 45/60/100 mile routes. With 70 participants, we were everywhere, and we were noticed. More often than not, so many of us heard, "Hey, I like your kit! Who are you?" And, as a bonus, some lookers even asked who Cottonwood Institute was, and we got to put a plug in for them. Sharon is already working on getting us potential discounts since we proved that day we can make any event pop with our colors and enthusiasm. Sharon and John had the tent ready to go for all of us to come after the ride to say, "I did it!" A fun day was had by all because we had each other to cheer us on and support us as needed.
For most of the rest of June, members were busy training for the next big events coming up. Yes, the Ride the Rockies, the Triple Bypass, the WR4 3-day road trip in the Crested Butte area, and the Tour of Steamboat.
There were rumblings about needing silent and live auction items for the upcoming month's fundraising for Cottonwood. Stay tuned for the happenings in July!
Rides, Rides, and Fun-raising 4 Cottonwood Institute
The official start of the Cottonwood Institute Move-a-Thon event and silent auction were the headlines for the first of July. Many, many of us registered for the Move-A-Thon on Strava, so Cottonwood could track everyone's moves and tabulate who was moving the most at the end of the month! Pretty sure Cottonwood didn't know the true meaning of MOVING until they met us! We had members adding miles to their name by participating in weekend rides, including Jamestown, Squaw climbs, the Tour of Steamboat ride, weekly gravel and mountain bike extravaganzas, and the weekday road rides. Oh, and let's not forget some cyclists added miles by riding past Cody and Katie Bourne, who were getting married in Wash Park! (How many of you have had the pink and blue make an appearance at your wedding???)
To be sure Cottonwood's finale was successful, Sharon and John made it a point to wrap the WR4 trip around Cottonwood's closing festivities for the July fundraiser so the 25 members on the trip could party together Saturday night, 7/31, in Gunnison with drinks provided by CI. These club members, along with other members who hopped on zoom to participate in the live auction, showed their true colors (even without sporting the pink and blue) in support of the "4" in our mission. Sharon's goal was to raise $25k overall, with $10k in individual donations and $15k for auction items. Just like moving our bodies in the month-long Move-A-Thon more than anyone expected, we moved the needle past Sharon's $$$ goals. We raised a total of $27,580! Do you know what this hefty amount says about our community? We are as committed to supporting our non-profit as we are with the club's cycling events.
August Rides Turn into Steroid Rides!
Oh yeah, the 7-days a week summer ride calendar has turned the membership into all types of beasts. August offers many the opportunity to take on new feats. 1st event up for strutting the team's stuff was the 3-day Leadville Mountain Bike Stage race. Keith Ober made us proud by winning the under 11-hour buckle by a lot (8:47 to be exact), as did Marty Albe by coming in 2nd in a tough age group!
The following weekend, the team did not let us down. 17 members represented WR4 in the notorious Copper Triangle on 8/7—- what about Lori Solomon signing up the week before without really training and riding with the best of the best as she is one of the best of the best.
Hold on—- we're only halfway through the August recap!
We had 2 more great showings on 8/14. Yes, Marty Albe returned to Leadville to complete the Leadville 100 along with Staci Striegnitz, Marty Albe, and John Ryan. Meanwhile, 5 other teammates were spotted at the Stonewall Century. Of note: Veronika Vacek and Aimee Dupont referred to the Stonewall 100-mile event as their warm-up for the following weekend's ride—- stay tuned! To round out this weekend of riding, we had several members join the top-rated Steamboat Gravel event.
Saturday, 8/21 was the big day for 45 of our members taking on the crowned jewel of Colorado century rides—- yes, the Triple Bypass. This ride is a rite of passage in the cycling world. Hence, WR4 knew it was essential to set up shop, i.e., a booth at the finish with our colorful tent, comfy chairs, and adult beverages for the riders. It didn't matter that sometimes it was raining and sometimes it was dark and cold, John and Sharon never left until each and every one of the team crossed the illustrious finish line. Our Executive Director and Chief Ambassador, oozing with pride for their teammates, gave the best high 5s, and congrats to all. What a special treat to watch the WR4 riders display such heart after doing 3 passes on an "all-over the place" weather day!
Upshot: WR4 helps anyone who wants to get their "beast" on. The team's support of each and every one of us is GOLD, no matter what our individual beast may be! ❤️
September was a Mixed Bag of Events!
On September 2nd, our fearless leader, Sharon Madison, was rolled into surgery for a double mastectomy and reconstruction. All of us gasped as we read the email with this news. But, just like Sharon does everything else, she was up by day -3- after surgery walking her neighborhood. She continued daily walks that grew from a few blocks to clocking in 7 and 8-mile treks at a time. The WR4 members marveled at her “I’ve got this attitude!” and were soon assured that she’d come back stronger than ever if that was possible! All club rides were dedicated to her strength and positivity.
And, there were many, many club rides strongly attended during the month because Colorado’s weather patterns decided to stay with summer! Many members signed up for special events offered in September that were canceled the year before due to the pandemic. WR4 had representation at the KMHTT, Buffalo Bicycle Classic, Tour de Vineyard, Gold Rush Gravel Boulder, and the Tour of the Moon.
Meanwhile, Chief Ambassador, John Genell, made a trek down to Tucson for the Tour de Tucson’s Loop de Loop event promoting nonprofits like ours and finding riders to support our cause. John and Sam Kirschbaum, from the Tucson chapter, manned the tent for El Tour’s Saturday event. They got some takers, but the real question is: Was it because of John’s and Sam’s charm, or was it the colorful tent that lured the takers in?
Pueblo Warrior kids helping John and Sam at El Tour’s Loop de Loop event.
To Everything, There is a Season
When WR4 was created, it was important to Sharon and John that the club “shares the love” with local nonprofits supporting kids' healthy lifestyles. They decided each partner nonprofit should be a 1-2 year commitment. Little did they know, they were setting WR4 up for heartbreak because so many of us had fallen in love with Cottonwood Institute and Ford Church, the director of the nonprofit! Sharon and Prilla were given the task to do the “breaking up.” They scheduled lunch so they could break the news. Ford was his charming self, so the gals didn’t get to the punchline until the very end! Sharon handed over a card with a big surprise inside. Ford exclaimed, “BEST.BREAKUP.EVER!” and was in awe of the club’s generosity by giving Cottonwood a “goodbye" check for $10K.
The story gets better! Ford was thrilled to hear who the new partner is because, in fact, his CI kids have benefitted from—— drumroll—— LUCKY TO RIDE. Now, talk about a small world!!! Ford was thrilled that the “sharing the love” playground just got bigger with one of Cottonwood’s good buddies. A happy ending after all!!!!
Let’s give a BIG welcome to LUCKY TO RIDE. Check out their website (luckytoride.org) and dial into the weekly ride schedule where we can sign up and join the kids on rides!!!
A BIG hug to say goodbye to Cottonwood and a Big Welcome to our new partner, Lucky to Ride!
Denver plus Tucson plus Pueblo Road Warriors = Good Times!
Many cyclists put their bikes away when the school bell rings in late August/early September…well, not true for so many of the We Ride 4 Denver and Tucson chapter members. And, even better, when the school bells rang this fall at Pueblo High School, that’s when Ernesto Somoza got his students in training mode for the El Tour de Tucson. His cycling kids were jazzed, with 10 students and 4 chaperones registering for the event, compliments of fees covered by WR4.
In the meantime, 26 WR4-Denver members got themselves to Tucson and were eager to mingle with the Tucson contingency! The tent was again assembled at Emory Park, ready to introduce the at-large cycling community to our organization and welcome Denver members to town. John Genell organized shifts among the members, so WR4 was visible at all times for the 3-day tent city extravaganza—- teamwork at its finest!
By Friday night, all riders were abuzz with anticipation. WR4 decided to throw a pizza party for the Pueblo Road Warriors at a game arcade. Kids chomped down their carbs for the big day. Back at the tent, Rob Dawson and Jeff Turton brought their Thursday night after-ride spread tradition with them. They hoped the Tucson and Denver chapters could get acquainted over yummy sandwiches and a little potato salad and dessert before the big day on Saturday. Thank you, WR4, and thank you, Rob and Jeff, for serving up the important night before meals!!! So much generosity!
The 10 students, 4 chaperones and 26 WR4 members were raring to go on Saturday, and raring they went!!! Ernesto rode with 2 of his road warriors, Isaac Rangell and David Rojas, who completed the 100-mile course. Ernesto’s sister, Melissa, and WR4’s Kirsten Albe rode with Alan and Damaris, who completed the 58-mile route. The other students completed the 28-mile course with the support of school staff and parent chaperones. Kudos to all the Pueblo Road Warriors for putting yourselves out there and doing it!!! And, kudos to all the WR4 riders who completed their rides.
Moral of the story: School bells in September didn’t deter the 45+ riders from WR4 and Pueblo Road Warrior communities.
Ernesto Somoza, David Rojas, Isaac Rangell anticipating their 100-mile ride!
The Giving Month
We Ride 4 wastes no time getting into the spirit of giving for the holiday season. So much so, members had their wallets open ready to help Sharon reach her goal of $5k with Facebook’s Giving Tuesday on 11/30. By that night, the membership had raised more than $5K. By adding donations from the WR4 website, the grand total came to $5,650! Once again, the members embraced our mission: “We Ride to Give!”
Just before Sharon headed back to Tucson for the winter (isn’t she a lucky gal), she received a very, very generous donation from the Crown Foundation again this year! The foundation believes in Sharon and believes in WR4’s mission to support local nonprofits that promote healthy lifestyles for kids by engaging them in outdoor fun.
And, of course, the club embraced Cottonwood’s call for volunteering with them at the Re: Vision on 11/23 and 12/21—- more giving! The volunteers packed approximately 36,000 pounds of food to be distributed to 560 families on both days. As the saying goes, “many hands make light work.” Thanks to the efforts of Cottonwood and WR4 supporting Re:Vision, deserving lives were made a little bit better with the food baskets they received.
Of course, we all were disappointed not to do our own crazy giving with our white elephant exchange due to our scheduled Holiday Party on 12/3 being postponed due to COVID rearing its ugly head once again. The good news is that the party will be rescheduled this spring. We can still do our wild and crazy elephant gift exchange as well as a toast to our 2022 season in anticipation of daylight savings and better riding weather returning.
May the spirit of the holidays bless you as you have blessed so many others!