We Ride 4 - A Year (really 9 months) in Review
Who knew in a short 9-month period amongst the worst pandemic in our lifetimes, a group of close to 300 members would come together and be as committed to improving their own abilities on the bike as well as being equally committed to riding 4 others. It didn't matter what each of us had going on with our own challenges in the wildness of the pandemic, the energy of WR4 took us to unexpected heights literally and figuratively. "READ ON" to learn what we accomplished in just 9 short months!
April: The Birth
Our Executive Director and Chief Ambassador (aka Sharon and John) knew the spirit of W4W must live on after the pandemic forced the closure of our prior cycling club. With their insight and hard work, the new non-profit was born: We Ride 4. They put together the Board of Directors and filed the paperwork that allowed WR4 to became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit! They scurried to get the website up and the shopping cart working so we could clamor at the WR4 door for memberships and new kits.
May: First Things First
We needed to find the right non-profit to ride 4. Member, Andrew Ekberg, suggested we interview Cottonwood Institute. We interviewed several other non-profits, but after talking to Ford Church, Executive Director, it was obvious they were the perfect first organization to ride 4 in 20/21. The organization believes youth need to explore the outdoors so they can become stewards of the environment. They empower their students to explore, learn, and change through their outdoor programs!
Click here to learn more about Cottonwood Institute.
June: First Club Rides
Even amid COVID, Sharon and John figured out how to follow CDC guidelines for scheduled rides by requiring masks and social distancing before ride departures and allowing no more than 10 people per skill level. Because we all missed our friends, quickly rides were going out 7 days a week. The enthusiasm didn't stop there. The popularity grew quickly! Lowry's Monday night rides went from averaging 8 riders a night in the beginning to more than 20 riders at the height of the summer season. And, yes, one Saturday ride had over 50 of us in a parking lot before take-off, still abiding by the CDC's recommendations.
July: Steve Clagg Memorial Ride
Steve Clagg lived life to the fullest, and to the end. He died as he lived. Because he was such an integral part of the club, there needed to be closure for the loss felt by so many members. Chief Ambassador, John Genell, organized the memorial ride on July 12th and 35 members paid their respects on the hillside where Steve flew his angel wings on the evening of June 17th. An important note: an elk appeared at the memorial site to say: "Steve is here in spirit today."
Please click here to learn about our dear friend, Steve Clagg.
August: Busy, Busy, Busy!
Our fiery membership did the unimaginable once again! Between the month-long Move-a-thon and the Virtual Party with a silent and live auction, WR4 raised over 15k during Cottonwood Institute's month-long event. Do you get the tenor of this amazing group of members? So much generosity from the members and some lucky bidders for the grand prizes donated by Sharon and John.
Just like our Executive Director, WR4 peeps know how to multi-task, some members rode their "move-a-thon" miles and attended the virtual party all while on a Summit Cycling Solutions tour planned with the help of Zach Ostrander. 20 members rode 4 days on the Western slope with a total of 213.6 miles and (drumroll) 12,718 feet in elevation gain. Please click here for more details about Summit Cycling Solutions and our WR4, Tour of Colorado. Yes, cyclists extraordinaire, all while fundraising for Cottonwood Institute!
September: Who says NO Tour of the Moon or Tour de Vineyard? Not WR4!
Our busy Executive Director and Chief Ambassador were at it again. They organized a contactless 2-day ride, modifying the routes from Tour of the Moon and Tour de Vineyard. 18 of our members headed to Grand Junction for the weekend. Again, BIG miles, BIG elevation gains and BIG smiles.
October: Counting our Blessings
Todd Lancaster and Prilla O'Connell helped to bring awareness to the Scott Lancaster Memorial Bridge while also raising money for Cottonwood Institute. Todd's brother Scott loved cycling and the outdoors. He was tragically killed by a mountain lion while on a run after school in January 1991. After Scott's death, the community came together and built a 5-mile bike trail with the memorial bridge as a crossway over Clear Creek. The Lancaster family is concerned that CDOT might not move the bridge as the Plains to Peaks Trail to the Loveland Ski area continues to be built. Todd is passionate in his goal to spread awareness of the importance of this bridge and wanted to share the history with our members. The members of WR4, as well as many of Scott's family and friends participated in the Scott Lancaster Memorial Bike Ride. Our members showed up BIG so the spotlight could be shone on the beautiful bridge, all while donations rolled in yet again from individual members "4" Cottonwood Institute.
Please click here to learn more about the Scott Lancaster Memorial Bridge.
Later in the month, several of our members volunteered with Cottonwood Institute to help package boxes of groceries at Re-Vision, a local food bank. These boxes of groceries were distributed to families living in the Westwood neighborhood. Unfortunately, a staff member tested positive for Covid and unknowingly exposed us to Covid. Of course, we all went into quarantine, while waiting for our test results. The good news from this scare was that none of us tested positive and more importantly, the employee made a full recovery! We appreciated the organization being responsible and letting us know we had been exposed. We also thank everyone who checked in on us, we are blessed with such caring WR4 friends.
November: We Ride 4 Tucson Chapter is born.
(That's right, only an 8-month gestation period.)
As most of you know, Sharon and John live part-time in Tucson. Well, it was only a matter of time until We Ride 4 became 2 chapters! John and Sharon met TJ Juskiewicz, Director of El tour de Tucson. TJ introduced our energetic leaders to Ernesto Somoza, who coaches the Pueblo Road Warriors. The students are given used bikes and wear hand-me-down cycling gear. They've always wanted matching jerseys. Piece of cake: Elf Sharon put up a FB Giving Tuesday page. Donations from the Denver chapter flew in, and even before Tuesday, there were enough funds to don the club's students with matching jerseys. Be sure to look for the students in their matching jerseys in next year's El Tour de Tucson.
December: So Many Surprises!
The highlight of December was not us rushing to get our smart trainers up and running to join Zwift rides. Instead, Leslie Resnick started the nomination process for the Colorado Classic Virtual Yellow Jersey Race by throwing Sharon's name into the ring. Thirteen other members followed her lead, and Sharon ended up in the final 3. That's when the voting frenzy began! After doing our clicking to register our votes for Sharon on the Colorado Classic website, we contacted any friend or family member we knew who would click the VOTE button for Sharon. Heck, she even got a vote from Steve Mollen's friend in Tanzania! Yes, she won. Our WR4 peloton was too much of a force to have the other 2 teams keep up in the end! So deserved, Sharon! (A victory lap is in the making.) Please click here for Sharon's Yellow Jersey recap.
Sharon's winning was quite a high! But the final hurrah was being able to surprise Cottonwood Institute with a check for $5k. Many thanks to the Scott Lancaster Memorial Ride fundraiser as well as to the Crown Foundation for their generosity.
In the end, it's the spirit of giving that's at the heart of our 9-month-old club! We are a community to be reckoned with--- we have gone way beyond all expectations in the making of a wonderful and meaningful year!
PS: Thank you Prilla for always editing my work and creating the story. Like you always say, “this club is about teamwork.”