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 14, 2013

Seventh Ride in A Year of Centuries – A Benefit for Bat Conservation International

I’m batty about bicycling!  Yesterday’s century, Pedal for Pets, was doubly great because it directly benefitted spay/neuter programs in the Senoia, Georgia area, and personally I rode for Bat Conservation International (BCI) with A Year of Centuries.

With bicycle rides and races, Robert and I often have to weigh whether it would be better to stay in a motel the night before or get up very early to get to the event.  If it’s within about a two-hour drive of our house, we usually opt for the latter option.  It’s nice to save on the motel cost, but it also makes it easier to take care of our animals.  Senoia is about an hour-and-15-minute drive from my house, but because the century started at 7:00 A.M., I had to get up quite early!  4:30 A.M., to be exact.

As I ate breakfast, I checked Facebook.  I discovered that the previous evening, Robert had tagged me in a photo from a time trial that I did last month:

When I race in time trials, my mouth is always gaping attractively like this as I pant for as much oxygen as possible.  At least I’ll never have a protein deficiency because I can always catch flies.  This photo was the perfect way to start the day because it reminded me of our bat friends who eat so many flying pests.  A single little brown bat (a common species here in Georgia) can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour.  A pregnant or lactating female bat usually eats the equivalent of her entire body weight in insects every night.

I headed out in my car for Senoia.  It was pitch black outside.  I thought about bats going about their nightly business.  They leave their roosts at dusk, feed all night on the insects that they detect through echolocation, and then return home at dawn.  So much happens in the dark while most people are asleep.  Nocturnal animal habitats, the incredible deep of the oceans, the vast expanse of outer space: if we humans ever think we know it all, we are just fooling ourselves.

A little magic music from Rush made my morning mood, and I arrived in Senoia.  I checked in, got my bicycle and equipment ready, and was ready to roll out 10 minutes before the official start time.  Because it was now light enough to ride and I didn’t have anyone else to ride with, I decided to go ahead and get my ride underway.  I didn’t see any other cyclists on the road, but I expected that.  I had started a little early, and there are usually many fewer century riders than those who do the shorter route options.  Also, the people doing the shorter routes weren’t scheduled to start for another hour or so.  About eight miles into my ride, I passed a sign that read, “Welcome to Senoia.”  Huh?  I soon determined that I had just ridden the Family Fun route.  (So that’s what the “FF” stood for on those route markings.)  Brilliant.  I had just ridden an extra eight miles.  I got back to the staging area and asked a volunteer to point me in the right direction for the century.  I started on the correct route, kicking myself for my rookie mistake.  But I was laughing, too.  I knew that this would be just another great memory on my adventure.

I loved the route.  There wasn’t much traffic at all, and the roads were in great shape.  Although it didn’t seem very hilly to me, my computer data later told me that I climbed 5,505 feet during the ride.  That’s an average of about 50 feet per mile, typical of the rolling hills of Middle Georgia that I usually ride.  And aren’t these the cutest route markers?

This spring and summer have been much rainier and cooler than normal.  We’ve had few, if any, days above 90 degrees.  Yesterday was very overcast, but I pretty much dodged the rain.  I did ride through a heavy mist for one stretch, but I just pretended that I was a flying fox bat in the tropics.

This reminded me of the important role that bats play in pollinating tropical and subtropical plants, including many that are very valuable to us humans.  In fact, I had never made the connection that a lot of these plants make excellent bike food!  Yesterday, I pinned the same small, plush bat to my jersey that I had ridden with last Sunday at the Rapha Women’s 100.  I named her Lucille, in honor of my grandmother Lucille Batte, who would have celebrated her 99th birthday that day.  On yesterday’s ride, Lucille posed with several fruits that her cousins pollinate:



Figs (Lucille got confused and tried to pollinate a Fig Newton.)

As you can see, Lucille was terrific company since I didn’t have anyone else to ride with.  I gained a deeper understanding of Tom Hanks’s character’s connection to his friend “Wilson” in the movie Cast Away.

There were other delicious goodies at the rest stops, too.  One of them had hummus with crackers and fresh vegetables.  Also, someone had baked some wonderful homemade pumpkin-walnut muffins.  In addition, because it was the Pedal for Pets Century, I thought that these animal crackers were most appropriate:

Speaking of rest stops, when I first scanned the cue sheet (list of directions), I didn’t see any rest stops listed.  What?!  Then I realized that, in all the many rides I’ve done, they were called something I had never seen before: break points.  I felt like a polyline in AutoCAD.

Even with the most careful training, attention to diet, and rest, some days you’re in better form than others.  It doesn’t matter what your age is.  If scientists could bottle good form, athletes would buy it by the bucket.  Yesterday was one of those days when I felt really good on the bike.  That was fortunate, especially since I knew I would be riding those extra eight miles!  I didn’t question why I felt good; I just rode with it (pun intended).  Despite getting a little bit of a late start on the century route thanks to my Family Fun faux pas, I started passing some of the other riders, particularly on the climbs.  A guy at the rest stop at mile 69 (actually mile 77 for me) asked me if I was doping.

Although it was a ride, not a race, just as all my centuries are, I pushed myself a little extra on yesterday’s ride.  I didn’t start noticing any fatigue at all until about mile 85, and at that point I was averaging a little above 18 mph.  I set a goal of finishing all 107 miles at no less than 18 mph.  There was a rest stop about nine miles from the finish.  Normally, I probably wouldn’t have stopped so close to the end, wanting simply to get through the ride.  This time, however, I sat briefly and got a little more water.  I thought that this would recharge my batteries enough to reach my goal.  I was right!

When I got back, I changed clothes and got a couple of slices of pizza offered to the riders.  One of the volunteers had his dog with him, a Boston terrier named Sammy Adams:

Isn’t he a cute fellow?  Just remember, they’re even cuter when you spay and neuter.

I was looking forward to one more treat.  I had decided that on my drive back into Monticello, I would stop for a Blizzard at Dairy Queen.  Normally, this wouldn’t have even occurred to me, but in the last week or so I had been noticing the sign out front declaring the Blizzard flavor of the month, lemon meringue pie.  This is a special, seasonal flavor that sounded like the perfect way to end the day.  Boy, was it delicious!

Dairy Queen is having a special fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, an excellent pediatric hospital.  For a $1 donation, you get some Dairy Queen coupons, and you can put your name on a paper balloon to be hung on the store wall.  There were already lots of paper balloons hanging up.  I had taken Lucille inside with me.  After all, she had been a faithful companion all those 107 miles!  I let her put her name on our balloon:

No comments:

Post a Comment