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.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fifth Ride in A Year of Centuries – A Benefit for the BRAG Dream Team

Another terrific century on Saturday!  I did Up the Creek Without a Pedal, an organized ride in Rome, Georgia, and my sweet husband Robert joined me.  This month I rode on behalf of the BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia) Dream Team, a group of young people from difficult circumstances who are given the opportunity to grow and experience good things through cycling.

I wonder what the dreams of the Dream Team are.  Probably most immediately, they dream about finishing a long ride or even getting to the top of that big hill.  Hopefully, this will inspire them to work toward even bigger dreams, like making good lives for themselves.  I thought about all my own dreams and aspirations during my ride on Saturday.  There are so many things I’m interested in that one lifetime isn’t enough to explore them all!  Sometimes I wish I were a cat with nine lives so that I could have all of the jobs that sound so fascinating to me, like meteorologist, entomologist, or geographer.  (If you notice a common thread, you won’t be surprised to learn that a few years ago I became a Master Naturalist through the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.  I absolutely loved the program!)  So, as I took in all of the aspects of Saturday’s century, they started coming together within a framework of “ologies” for my ride report (plus one “onomy”).

You’ve probably heard of Indian summer, which is a warm spell during the fall.  Here in Georgia we’ve been having the springtime equivalent, which poetically is called blackberry winter.  (This term may have come from the belief that a spring cold snap helps the blackberry crop.)  Although it was a milder than usual winter, what winter we did have hasn’t quite wanted to leave.  On Saturday’s ride I wore a base layer and arm warmers, something I don’t remember doing in May before.  Oh, well, at least they made my ride comfortable.

Even more attention getting was the rain – a steady rain for the first 15 miles, to be exact.  I’m a big fan of the Weather Channel website, which tends to give very accurate data even on the hourly forecasts.  They sure missed it on Saturday, though.  There was only a 30% chance of rain for the first half of the day.  I guess we hit that 30%!  The good news is that I’m not sweet enough to have to worry about melting.

The second thing I ever wanted to be was a meteorologist.  (The first thing was a math teacher.)  My Brownie troop visited the WSB-TV station, and I was enthralled with all of the weather maps.  They gave me some old printouts, which I used to play meteorologist.  Also, when I was growing up, my favorite family activity was going to Fernbank Science Center on Friday evenings.  The best part was the meteorology station, especially the display where you could create a tornado with the push of a button.  In graduate school I studied hydraulics and hydrology (sub-discipline of civil engineering) and was excited that one of the required courses was meteorology.  One of my workgroup’s assignments was to build a computer model of a maritime stratiform cloud and to make it rain.  We never could get our cloud to rain.  Maybe that was an indication that I did the right thing by not becoming a meteorologist.  Or maybe it was just confirmation of our professor’s subsequent explanation that maritime stratiform clouds are rarely observed to rain.

Another dream job of mine is cartoonist, but all I can draw is stick figures.

Speaking of meaty urologists, perhaps you’ve wondered how one deals with the call of nature when on a bicycle ride.  If you’re doing an organized ride, there are port-o-potties at each rest stop.  However, if the call doesn’t coincide with the rest stops or if you’re on an unsupported ride, you just find the nearest secluded clump of bushes or trees.  Guys have it easy.  They barely pull off the side of the road and do their business.  On the other hand, we women have to be a little more discreet.  Regular cycling shorts are enough of a pain to pull down, but bib shorts are even worse.  Bib shorts have straps that go over your shoulders, kind of like overalls.  You have to take your jersey off to get to the straps before you can pull your shorts down.  That means you have to worry about exposing even more parts of your anatomy.  I’m guessing that it was a man who designed bib shorts.

I’ve been on many a group ride where I was the only woman among a bunch of men.  The guys will call for a nature break when we get to a wooded area.  I ride a little ways ahead of them and find my own private location.  I always laugh to myself and pretend that I can’t look back or else, just like Lot’s wife at Sodom and Gomorrah, I’ll turn into a pillar of salt.

Georgia has quite varied geology across the state.  I live in the Piedmont, characterized by rolling hills.  The underlying rock is mostly igneous or metamorphic.  Saturday’s century was in the Ridge & Valley section, which has long, parallel ridges and valleys formed from the erosion of sedimentary rocks.  I was surprised to discover that the ride on Saturday was less hilly than my Middle Georgia rides.  That was because Up the Creek Without a Pedal mostly followed roads within the valleys.  The century option did have one substantial climb over Little Sand Mountain, which lasted about a mile and a half.  No problem, though – I kind of like the climbs.

The rest stops on Saturday were very well stocked.  There were a number of sweet or salty food options, including both carbohydrates and proteins.  It’s good to have all of these on a long ride.  Here’s what I had at one of the rest stops:

Moon Pies are quite educational.  If you hold a Moon Pie in front of you with the light behind you, you have a total lunar eclipse.  If you hold a Moon Pie right in front of the light, you have a total solar eclipse.  Furthermore, once in a blue moon you may get to eat two Moon Pies in one month.  However, don’t worry when you run out of Moon Pies; then you have a new moon.

One portion of our ride followed a lovely stream through the Chattahoochee National Forest.

Because of the abundant rainfall in the last few months, the vegetation along this stretch of road was extremely lush, forming a verdant canopy.  As we emerged from the area, I commented to Robert, “There was a lot of biomass in that corridor.”  He misheard me, thinking I said, “Get your ass on down the road!”

About 20 miles from the end of the ride, Robert and I saw a strong looking rider up ahead.  We decided to catch him.  (FYI – In the cycling world, a person you’re trying to catch is called a carrot.)  It took some work on Robert’s and my part, but we finally did.  The rider was glad to see us because he had been riding solo and was ready to catch a draft.  We were happy for him to join us, and the three of us took turns pulling for the remainder of the ride, making it easier for everyone.

Our new friend’s name was Forrest.  He was wearing an attractive jersey:

He said that a friend had gotten it as part of some tsunami relief work.  The jersey didn’t fit the friend, and so he gave it to Forrest.  I joked with Forrest that I was glad that Robert and I could bring truth to the words on the back of his jersey by riding with him.  In all seriousness, though, these words were appropriate for so many reasons.

The people in Japan who have been devastated by tsunamis are not alone.  There is a thread linking them to Forrest’s friend who donated time and/or money, linking to Forrest, linking to Robert and me.

The young people on the Dream Team are not alone.  In spite of whatever life difficulties they face, whether it’s poverty, broken families, violence, or whatever, they have Coach Atiba and other mentors who care about them.  Even though I am not working with them in such a hands-on manner, I am connected to them through cycling and our common humanity.

Dudz and Ynigo Villanueva are not alone.  They are a father and son I learned of through a wonderful Facebook page called “Why I Ride.”  On this page cyclists share why they ride, and it’s always inspirational.  It might be for better health and well being.  Others are fighting back from injury or illness.  Still others, like Dudz, ride to support others.  He rides because he wants to see his son Ynigo cured from diabetes.  They both ride in the Tour de Cure, and Ynigo is even a Red Rider, a rider with diabetes who serves as an inspiration.  Dudz told of his plans to ride in the San Antonio Tour de Cure on May 11, the same day as my century on behalf of the BRAG Dream Team.  I told Dudz that I would be thinking of him and Ynigo during my ride.  I treasure this connection.

I was not alone after my crash, even from the first moment.  One of the other racers, a dear person named Nancy, stayed with me until the ambulance picked me up.  The EMT who took care of me in the ambulance was named Donna.  The emergency room nurse who looked after me all that day was named Linda.  When I finally got to go home that evening, I had to get a few prescriptions from the hospital pharmacy, which was named Graves Pharmacy.  I particularly remember all of these names because my mother is Nancy, my sister is Donna, my mother-in-law is Linda, and my mother and stepfather’s last name is Graves.  Coincidence?  No, this was God’s way of letting me know that I was not alone and would be OK.

One Last “Ology”
There are a lot of cool “ologies” out there, but this is my very favorite one of all: Robertology

Amazingly, I felt stronger Saturday during the last 25 miles than the first 25 miles.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised because that’s what training will do for you.  Still, I’m grateful that I felt better at the end of this century than any I’ve ever done.  In fact, I was (almost) fresh as a daisy.

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