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, November 3, 2013

Fried Green 50

During the shorter days of fall and winter, much of my riding is on my cyclocross bike, Frankenbike.  (Robert built it up for me from a generic frame and spare parts.  I love Frankenbike.)  It’s the best way to ride after work during these months because I can ride on the sparsely traveled dirt roads near my house using a headlight and taillight.  The best dirt ride I do all year, however, is a daytime ride: the Fried Green 50.  My friend Monty has been hosting it for a number of years.  It starts in Juliette, the small town featured in the wonderful movie Fried Green Tomatoes.  From there, the ride goes all over the Piedmont Wildlife Refuge (PWR), one of the most beautiful places in Georgia.

The Fried Green 50 is also a great way to interact with a different part of the cycling community.  Some of my cycling friends are strictly roadies.  Other cycling friends ride some paved and some dirt, usually doing more of one than the other.  Still other cycling friends are pure mountain bikers.  Many cyclists from the latter two groups come out for the Fried Green 50.  Today’s ride had over 75 participants.

I had really been looking forward to this ride.  As a bonus, we gained an hour as daylight savings time ended last night, making it extra unnecessary to set my alarm clock for this morning's 10:00 A.M. ride start.  Sure enough, I woke up at about 7:00 A.M., feeling well rested.  Robert headed to Juliette around 8:00 because he was volunteering at the ride.  On the other hand, I had a good chunk of time for a few household chores.  As much as I love the multitude of activities that I do, I also love being at home.  Sometimes my home time suffers, though.  I can always tell that I need to tone down my schedule when I start fantasizing about cleaning my bathroom.  This morning that fantasy came true.  I also cleaned out my hummingbird feeder and did some laundry.  I was about to change the sheets on the bed when I realized that it was 9:25.  I had meant to leave an hour before the ride start, but somehow I confused myself when I thought about the 10:00 ride seeming like it was at 11:00.  I immediately dropped what I was doing, changed clothes, and got to the ride just in time.  Whew!

I took a quick nature break before I hopped onto Frankenbike, dashing into the first adequate looking clump of trees.  D’oh!  The area was marshy, and my right foot got covered in muck.  Oh, well.  I figured that I would get dirtier than that before the day was over.  I didn’t get dirtier, but I did get wetter.  About five miles into the ride, we had our first of five creek crossings for the day.  The water was about a foot deep, and so all of the muck washed right off of my shoe.  Here’s a shot of the third creek crossing:

Monty wasn’t able to place signs or use paint in the PWR.  Therefore, in those areas he marked the route with flour:

Today had pretty much optimal fall weather.  That made the incredible scenery even better.  The foliage in Middle Georgia is just starting to hit its stride as far as fall color goes.  These pictures really don’t do it justice:

Additionally, the tasseling grasses were delightful:

Alas, the day was not perfect.  At about mile 31, I came upon this poor guy carrying his bicycle:

He flatted both tires at the fourth creek crossing.  His tires were tubular, which can’t be patched.  At least I was able to call Monty on my cell phone to come pick him up.

Even when things don’t go well – or even when they go terribly – it’s amazing how they can turn around.  This sign was yet another spur for me to be grateful for my recovery from my crash.  The lush growth of trees behind the sign makes it hard to believe that the area was decimated by a tornado.

A number of areas of the PWR are great for biking, but many paths are open to foot traffic only.  Toward the end of the ride, there was about a half-mile section that we had to walk:

I had fun making sure I walked fast enough to keep my bike computer going.

In the last few weeks I haven’t ridden with much intensity.  That’s a large part of why I felt so fresh today.  It really didn’t seem like too long before I was back at Juliette:

Ocmulgee River just upstream of the dam at Juliette

Riding is fun, but cyclists also like to continue the celebration afterwards.  It’s not uncommon to have a good brew to toast a good ride and good friends.  My friend Stony shared one of his with me.  I had never had this variety of Terrapin, which was both delicious (hoppy and very flavorful) and particularly appropriate for today:

This stray dog looked about as content as I felt:

It was one of the best days I’ve had in a while.  Thank you, Monty, and everyone else who made it so wonderful!

And get well soon!  (He broke his collarbone a few weeks ago at a cyclocross race.)

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