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.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

BBQ Bass Ride

Today Robert and I hosted our annual BBQ Bass Bicycle Ride.  We’ve been having this ride for years.  I don’t remember exactly which year we started, and we may have missed a year or two early on, but regardless, we called this year’s ride the 17th annual one.  Close enough.  It’s a great excuse to get on our bicycles simply to have fun.

BBQ Bass History
The BBQ Bass Ride has morphed over the years.  When we first started doing it, there may have been three or four of us, and we just rode a loop from Monticello to Hillsboro and back, for a total distance of about 26 miles.  We thought that was a pretty long haul!  We’d stop at Tillman’s BBQ in Hillsboro, roughly the half-way point.  Tillman’s BBQ was a great little place right on the railroad tracks in Mouldin Tillman’s backyard.  Unfortunately, Mouldin became ill and had to close his restaurant.  We’ve been to several other BBQ places in the years since.  A couple of years ago we even had Robert’s mother pick up some locally famous Fresh Air BBQ in Jackson and bring it to our house, where we had a picnic in the yard after the ride.

My friend John Fry, a classmate at Georgia Tech, has been to almost every BBQ Bass Ride.  Since I work in Macon these days, where John lives and also works, I run into him occasionally there.  However, for a long time I just saw him once a year at BBQ Bass.  Back in 2003 Robert and I printed T-shirts for ride participants.  John still has his and wore it to today’s ride:

Over the years the route has increased in length.  This year it was 72 miles with less mileage possible via shortcuts.  Also, more and more friends have joined us.  Today we had 27 people on the ride, and I enjoyed seeing each one.

The biggest (and admittedly best) change to the ride has been from the plain old BBQ Ride to the BBQ Bass Ride.  For the last few years, a SAG vehicle has followed the group, providing water, snacks, mechanical support, and – most importantly – Bass beer.  We schedule several rest stops in out-of-the-way locations along the route and take a break for a cold one.  It’s such a happy ride.

We invited everyone to come 30 minutes before the ride to chill at The Vanilla Bean, a wonderful coffee shop that has opened on the Monticello square in the past year.  With it being Saturday morning, our local farmers market was open, too.  I made sure to get some fresh peaches, which I do every week during peach season.  Also, FFA had homemade peach ice cream for $1 a scoop.  I got one to go with my Vanilla Bean vanilla bean tea:

The Chase
About 10 minutes before we were scheduled to roll out, I managed to get a huge gash in my tire.  Robert rushed home to get me a replacement wheel.  When he got back, I worked on changing my wheel out while he went over a few details about the route with the group:

Of course it was my back wheel, which is much more of a pain to deal with than the front.  I didn’t quite have it on my bike when everyone headed out of the parking lot.  Adam, who works at Bike Tech, was very nice to hang back and help me finish getting my wheel on.  He didn’t even mind riding just with me for about the first 25 miles while we chased back to the group.  We finally caught up when the group stopped to look at the Rock Eagle effigy:

(This photo is actually from my cycling visit to Rock Eagle back in April.)

The Chase – Part II
A couple of days before the ride, I learned that our route would take us within about a quarter mile of a lavender farm.  Even more exciting, a Lavender Festival was scheduled for all day today.  I thought it would be a lot of fun to stop to see the lavender field and maybe get some soap or other nice lavender products.  The other women on our ride thought this was a great idea, too.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stop there.  Even though I had told everyone where the farm was and called it out as we approached the turn, I was the only one who actually turned.  By the time I noticed that I was alone and that it would be better to stick with the group, they had gotten a pretty good distance ahead of me.  I had to chase back on again!

The group was going at a fairly fast pace by then.  I think that’s one reason the women who had expressed interest in going to the lavender farm didn’t realize that we had passed it; they were concentrating on hanging with the peloton.  I suppose it was kind of ridiculous for me to think that the testosterone-hyped guys in the group would want to stop at a Lavender Festival, even if some lovely smelling lavender would make them less stinky.  So, instead of the Lavender Fest, we had a Hammer Fest:

As I was chasing back on for this second time, I passed several signs that tickled my funny bone.  I thought, “What’s a few more seconds delay,” and so I stopped to take a few pictures:

Fortunately, it was only a few miles to the next beer stop.

Bass, etc.
For the first few years that we had Bass on the ride, Bass was the only beer we offered.  However, Robert started adding other varieties.  It’s still mostly Bass, though, out of tradition.  I decided to be a purist today:

This year we bought one type of beer especially for our friend Dale, a legend within the Macon cycling community:

Final Stretch
The group was still pretty much together at around mile 50:

After that, the front guys really threw down the hammer.  I stayed with them for a little while but finally had to back off.  Our friend Ronnie Bratcher, who had come down all the way from Cumming, rode with me for the last 15 miles or so.  He and I enjoyed talking and riding at a more civilized pace.

BBQ and Blues
At the end of the ride, we ate at Maw & Paw’s BBQ:

Maw & Paw’s opened on the Monticello square in recent months.  Not only was the BBQ delicious, we got to eat it at the very end of the ride!  If you have to get back on the bike after lunch, it can be a little tough to pedal the remaining miles on a stomach full of pulled pork and Brunswick stew.

We also had a special musical treat.  Henry Maddox, our local bluesman, sang and played his guitar while we ate:

ML&J Fund
Even though this wasn’t one of my century rides, A Year of Centuries was still on my mind.  When Robert and I put the word out about this year’s BBQ Bass Ride, I asked people to bring back-to-school supplies for the ML&J Fund.  Our friends were very generous to provide specific items that are needed: pre-K backpacks and scientific calculators.  A few people even gave cash or checks.  Thank you, everyone, for helping our Jasper County young people!

It was a great day, and I hope everyone will join us again for next year’s BBQ Bass Ride!

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