Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Bats!

Our bat friends from Bat Conservation International have given us gifts for the 12 days of Christmas!

Bats give us the gift of pears!  They help control pests that otherwise would destroy or damage pears.

Bats give us the gift of hot cocoa!  Chocolate comes from the cacao tree.  Bats help control the cocoa pod borer, the primary pest of cocoa growers.  Additionally, bats are important for seed dispersal of the cacao tree.

Bats give us the gift of pecan pie!  They help control pests that otherwise would destroy or damage pecans.

Bats give us the gift of apples via pest control!

Bats give us the gift of mittens!  They help control pests of cotton plants.

Bats give us the gift of gingerbread via pest control of ginger!

Bats give us the gift of bananas via pollination!

Bats give us the gift of pumpkin pie!  They help control insects that feed on pumpkins.

Bats give us the gift of cacti!  They pollinate cacti and disperse their seeds.  Bats also pollinate agave, another desert plant.  Agave is what gives us tequila for our margaritas.  Ole!

Bats give us the gift of coffee via pest control!

Bats give us the gift of tamales!  They help control pests of corn.  Also, tamales are traditional for Christmas in Mexico.

Bats give us the gift of fruitcake!  They control pests of many fruits, including cherries, peaches, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, and many more!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lesson Learned

Today I had the sixth and final laser treatment on the scar on my chin.  I’ve been having these treatments every five to six weeks since June.  I go to my plastic surgeon’s office, but his nurse actually does the procedure.  I asked her if she pretends that she’s Dr. Evil with his “laser.”

In the months following my crash, I learned a lot of things.  I learned more about bone, teeth, and scar tissue than I ever thought I would.  Also, I pushed my personal envelope of mental and physical toughness as I waited through the long healing process and continued to train and race during that time.  One thing I discovered, though, surprised me.  I confess that I had a prejudice that I wasn’t even aware of.  I’ve had a very judgmental attitude toward plastic surgery.

Obviously, some people have a true need for reconstructive plastic surgery, like after a mastectomy, but (thankfully) this hasn’t been on my radar screen.  On the infrequent occasions I thought anything at all about plastic surgery, it was always in terms of what I considered unnecessary, even frivolous treatment – a nip here, a tuck there.  It never occurred to me that plastic surgery would be appropriate for an injury such as the deep laceration I got on my chin during the crash.  Nobody wants a disfiguring scar like that, especially on his/her face.  I’m grateful that one of my friends who visited me in the emergency room urged me to see a plastic surgeon right away.  If I had simply stuck with the sewing job that the emergency room doctor did, I probably really would look like some kind of inverted Frankenstein.  (One of my ongoing scar treatments has been three-times-a-day massage, which I jokingly refer to as doing the Monster Mash.)  However, between surgery and other treatments recommended by my plastic surgeon, the scar is not too bad.  It helps that it’s in the natural crease of my chin.  Regardless, I’m sure I notice it much more than anyone else does.

So, it turns out that plastic surgery can be a very good thing.  If it has made me feel so much better, who am I to say that someone else’s plastic surgery – of whatever variety – doesn’t help him or her just as much?  I needed a little plastic surgery on my thoughts, too, eh?  My hope is that I can always recognize and correct any other wrong in myself.  Proverbs tells us that wisdom and knowledge are more valuable than silver and gold.  Even Dr. Evil might say that they are worth more than…one million dollars.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Even I didn't know that cycling makes me this happy!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ain't Skeered

The route on this morning’s group ride went by the site of my crash.  Without my even saying anything, my friends who were with me today were very perceptive and considerate, asking whether it was the first time I had been back there. It was, but I wasn't afraid.  Going back there does make me a little reflective, though.

Some people have asked me whether I have started riding again.  An understandable question, perhaps, but I always laugh to myself as I tell them I got back on my bike six days after the crash and raced a time trial the day after that.  (By the way, the fact that I did ride and race again so quickly may make it sound like my injuries weren’t severe, but they were.  They just didn’t physically prevent me from riding.)   If I really loved mass-start races, i.e., road races and crits, I’d probably still do them.  There are just so many other types of cycling that I enjoy more.

A healthy approach to cycling – and to life – requires a reasonable assessment of risk and benefit.  Sometimes people’s perception of risk is way off, as when they are afraid to fly but think nothing of driving their car every day; they are much more likely to die in a car crash than an airplane crash.  I don’t know what the probability is that I might ever have another cycling accident, but I’ll bet it’s a lot less than the probability of developing some chronic disease if I gave up cycling and starting lying on the sofa and eating bonbons.  Besides, the benefits of cycling are pretty compelling: the feeling of flying as the wind rushes by, the good kind of fatigue after a hard ride, camaraderie with cycling friends, and enjoying food and wine so much more.

During his first inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  (For some good reading, check out this quote in the context of his speech:  He was referring to the Great Depression, but people often – not incorrectly – extrapolate this wisdom to other life situations.  I like to think that his words inspired other polio victims that he met when he went to Warm Springs.  Another place that FDR frequented on his trips to Georgia was Dowdle’s Knob on Pine Mountain.  There’s a nice park there now.  Robert and I visited it for the first time a few years ago.  Maybe it’s not a coincidence that it was right after we did the Wheels o’ Fire Century.