Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Be the change you want to see!

Why don’t we have… how come we don’t, that what most people say their whole life. That what I said until I realized that change starts with me. Not elected officials, Volunteers, citizens who are so passionate about their cause that it’s contagious. Growing up in east Tennessee (Knoxville) I rode my bicycle everywhere, in 1982 I rode my first century in 6 hours and 42 minutes, I was 14. Bicycling was part of the culture back then or at least that was how everyone got around to save money. All through High school and two years of college if I went somewhere it was on my bike. Touring was soon replaced by racing and I traveled all over the country to little towns in Wisconsin, Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina and California and I started saying the phrase, “Why don’t we have and How come we don’t”. Bicycle lanes, shops, races, and bicycle paths (greenways), why were these things so important in some communities and not in mine. Well Knoxville soon caught up with the rest of the world, bicycle shops in every community, races every weekend, and greenways popping up everywhere. I moved to Fayetteville in December of 1995, married and had 8 month old son (Hunter), east Tennessee couldn’t hold a flame to the beauty that I saw while riding my bike in Lincoln County. Shade covered roads, deer and turkey everywhere, this was a bicyclist utopia. I would ride loops through Coldwater, Taft, Booneshill, and Mimosa and just couldn’t believe there weren’t more people taking in the beauty that Lincoln County had to offer. There was one guy that I heard rode a lot but was warned that people might think I was him and run me over thinking I was that cocky attorney Ray Fraley. 10 years I rode around Lincoln County, met that attorney Ray Fraley, even rode a few long rides with him and even heard him say, “Why don’t we have and how come we don’t”, and nothing seemed to change but a few shopping centers and housing developments. Where were all the bicycle riders, this was an Olympic sport, what was the deal. In 2006 I started working on some mtn bike trails so my family and I would have a place to hike and ride mtn bikes. 10 miles and 12 months later two families had the first and only bicycle trails in the History of Lincoln County. Next thing you know Dirt, Sweat, and Gears. The race was a success, in two years The race has raised $4000.00 for two charities. Locals talked about it and joked about it, but you also heard that phase, “why don’t we have and how come we don’t”, these trails are private so we still didn’t have a place the community that you could hike for 4 hours or ride our bicycles with our kids without the fear of being run over or getting lost. Starting in the fall of 2008 I’m promoting the sport of bicycling by hosting,”Beat the Freak Cyclocross Series” in Fayetteville Tennessee. The word freak was given to me by that attorney I was warned about. It use to bother me when I here my bicycle buddies scream across the square,” Freak”, then I realized I was part of a community that most people don’t understand, they would ask why would you ride a bike when you could drive a car, or I would here I use to ride a bike to school.
So since I was still riding my bike at age 40, I was a freak. Well there are a lot of freaks in this world and a few are going to visit Fayetteville this fall. October 18,19 25,26 & November 22,23 bicyclist from all over the south will converge on Fayetteville to race cyclocross. Cyclocross is a bicycle race on a one mile loop, usually in a park, that last up to one hour. Seven racing divisions from professional (CX 1,2) to CX 4(beginner) and Juniors( kids 10-18) and of course women(CX 1-4), races start at 9:30am and end around 3:00 pm. Three weekends, six races, the bicycle riding population is about to explode in Fayetteville. 100% of the money raised from this event will be donated To what I think is the most important charity of all, “Our Youth” in our community, specifically the Lincoln County High school Band, Lincoln County High school Cross Country Team and Bicycle Advocacy in Lincoln County. Hopefully proceeds from future events can go to projects like, Trails for Kids, or free bicycle repair clinics for our youth in the community. Hopefully this race series and many future events will deafen those words,” Why don’t we have and how come we don’t”. A leader in our community said to me recently, change starts me. It doesn’t take an army.

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