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.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rapha Women's 100

Today I joined thousands of women around the world to ride 100 kilometers (62 miles) in the Rapha Women’s 100.  This event was held in conjunction with the Etape du Tour, in which amateur cyclists had a chance to ride a major mountain stage of the 100th Tour de France.  The Rapha Women’s 100 was an opportunity for women to share in a cycling adventure wherever they are.  Over 100 rides were held in 24 countries: the United States, Canada, the British Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland, Poland, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and United Arab Emirates.  I was thrilled to host a ride in Middle Georgia!

Unfortunately, I was the only woman at the Middle Georgia ride.  Fortunately, I had a great ride by myself!  And, ironically, the theme that kept coming back to me throughout my ride was connections.

Connections to People
As I rode, I thought about the women around the world who were also riding the Rapha Women’s 100.  Were they riding fast or slow?  Did the women in each group already know each other, or did they get acquainted during the ride?  How often did they stop?  Did they eat exotic bike food or something similar to my Clif bars?  Wherever they were, I hope they had as much fun as I did and enjoyed the people and land unique to their ride.

Just a few kilometers into my ride, I saw a beautiful field of sunflowers was growing right by the side of the road:

I literally gasped when I first saw it.  It reminded me of the beautiful sunflowers in Provence that Graham Watson has photographed during the Tour de France.  I pulled to the side of the road to take a picture.  As I turned to get back on my bicycle, I saw a man on the other side of the road who was taking a break from mowing the grass.  He said, “Pretty, ain’t they?”  Brief as it was, he and I connected in that moment through the beauty of nature.

Connections to Nature
One of my favorite things about cycling is the way that it lets me connect to the world around me.  I’m convinced that many of people’s dis-eases, physical and mental, could be alleviated if they just spent some time outdoors.

I saw a delightful menagerie of animals today: a rabbit, a red fox, and even a red horse.  Actually, it was white horse that was stained with our famous red Georgia clay.  Also, I heard peacocks squawking and the wonderful drone of annual summertime cicadas.  These are different from the 13-year cicadas, which paid their last visit two years ago.

Connections to the Past
I've pinned on many a race number, but today I pinned a bat onto my jersey:

This was a tribute to Bat Conservation International, my July charity in A Year of Centuries.  Also, today would have been the 99th birthday of Lucille Batte, my grandmother.

I thought about other women from the past, too.  Recently I discovered an absolute gem of a book, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way) by Sue Macy:

It describes how bicycles truly helped women of the late 1800s and early 1900s become more free and independent as bicycles became popular.  Women back then were constantly chaperoned, whether or not they were with men.  Also, because the heavy skirts and petticoats of the day were not very conducive to cycling, women’s fashions began to become more practical and comfortable.  (Ever heard of bloomers?)  Additionally, Wheels of Change describes some of the first women cyclists who raced or accomplished incredible endurance rides.  Many of these feats would be astonishing today even with modern bicycles and clothing.

Here’s one of my favorite tidbits from Wheels of Change, an item that was originally published on September 1, 1895 in the Omaha Daily Bee:

Don’ts for Women Wheelers
Don’t be a fright.
Don’t carry a flask.
Don’t wear a golf hose.
Don’t faint on the road.
Don’t wear a man’s cap.
Don’t wear tight garters.
Don’t stop at road houses.
Don’t forget your tool bag.
Don’t attempt a “century.”
Don’t coast.  It’s dangerous.
Don’t say, “Feel my muscle.”
Don’t criticize people’s “legs.”
Don’t boast of your long rides.
Don’t wear loud-hued leggings.
Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.
Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.
Don’t powder your face on the road.
Don’t wear rubber soles cycling shoes.
Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.
Don’t imagine everyone is looking at you.
Don’t tempt fate by riding too near the curbstone.
Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?”
Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels.”
Don’t overdo things.  Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.

I’ve done at least half of these things.

By the way, I’ll be attempting (and completing!) my next century next Saturday.  Ride on!

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