Tuesdays with Dirty: Drunkcyclist is for the Children

Much to my surprise, the highlight of my Interbike experience this year was not the parties or bike gadgetry. It was some books, a bunch of children, and a short bike ride. For those of you that know me, I hear you laughing and you can stop now. It’s a pretty well known fact that I don’t really care much for children. I am allergic to responsibility and I have made it this far without having any kids of my own (that I know of) and I intend to keep it that way. But this little interaction with the kids was powerful enough to even melt my icy heart just a little bit.

There is a great organization out of Nashville, TN called Ride for Reading and their mission is pretty simple. Get kids excited about riding their bike and reading books. This is the second year in a row that they have brought their mission to Las Vegas. Since I am pretty excited about bikes and books, I thought that I should probably tag along.

We met up in the parking lot behind the Sands convention center at 8:30am, which is mighty early in Vegas time. Even with the early start there was still a sizable group of people from all over the country. Pro racers, sales reps, shop owners and an assorted other volunteers. Since a lot of people flew in for the trade show without bikes, Pivot Cycles stepped in and offered up their demo fleet for the morning. This was huge and it dramatically increased the amount of people able to go on the ride.  We loaded up our backpacks, panniers, and trailers with hundreds of books and set out to the local elementary school with a police escort. Safely tucked under the wing of 6 motorcycle cops, we took the whole lane and got to proceed through every intersection safely. It was like being in a presidential motorcade and it was great to see the police officers just as into our ride as we were.

A short ride later we arrived at an elementary school that was basically in the shadow of the Las Vegas strip. It was absolutely the last place that I expected to see a couple hundred kids in a recess yard. We were greeted by lines of cheering kids and high 5′s as we rolled into the yard behind the police motorcycles. It was like we were the most wholesome rock stars ever.

We dropped off our cargo and then we all watched in amazement as Matthew, the founder of Ride for Reading, mesmerized the children with his message. He got them to raise their right hand and promise to read their book at least twice, and promise to never throw it away. By the time he finished they were buzzing with excitement to get their books. You can see a great example of his skills here, give it a look.

Then the kids were let loose to select 2 books that they can take home to keep. We had the opportunity to interact with the kids and help them pick out books that they were most excited about. This was a little overwhelming since my children social skills are near zero, but I made it out alive and I learned a whole lot.

Since most of us had responsibilities to get back to at the trade show, we made a pretty discrete exit as the kids kept pouring over the books. The police officers went the extra mile and were nice enough to escort us back.

As we rode back to the convention center I wondered out loud why there wasn’t more people on the ride. It was a truly awesome turnout but right there in front of us was a building with thousands of cyclist in it. There were even booths set up inside by people who run co-ops, do community outreach, or volunteer to go to different countries to deliver bikes. Where were they? I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they just didn’t hear about it. But consider yourself notified. I want to call out every bike company in attendance and challenge you to show up next year and make this the biggest group ride that Las Vegas has ever seen. I dare you.

I can’t really express how cool this experience was for me. Getting kids excited to read is pretty darn important and this seemed like an incredibly effective way to convey that message. After all, what kid doesn’t like riding their bike? If you think this is something you might want to do in your area, National Ride for Reading Week is a great place to start.Their goal is to have 25 cities participate this year and I see no reason why that can’t happen. Why not your town?

I am in the process of rallying my troops to do a delivery here in Tempe, AZ. Because like my idol and mentor ODB said..We are about the children, we teach the children.

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Thanks for reading.

Keep it dirty…

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About dirty biker

I am a fan of singletrack, singlespeeds, single malt, and single women. Tempe, Arizona, USA

28 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Dirty: Drunkcyclist is for the Children

  1. Dirty-

    As a dad, teacher, DC lurker, and sometimes cyclist. Thanks for a great way to start my morning. Cyclists just do good on a whole and make the planet and all its people better.

    Moo Chew Grassy Ass amigo.

  2. Dirty,

    Thanks a million for attending and the amazing write up! We truly appreciate everyone who turned out. We would love for the ride to get larger every year and were hopeful to let more people know about it. However, the powers that be informed us that they could not promote the delivery because it cut into the expo. They stated that “It would take away from the expo.”

    O’well…some of us are trying to make a difference while riding and I feel we have been successful being that you attending our 100,000th book donated delivery!

    Thanks dude! Keep up the killer work.

  3. it’s so rad that something meaningful could be harvested from something so relatively superficial. victory starts in the streets. this rules, db.

  4. Pingback: Link roundup: September 26 | Tucson Velo

  5. I love children, I just can’t eat a whole one.

    Sorry… can’t help myself when it comes to bad jokes, either.
    Is this a strictly American event, or is the great white north invited along, too? There are a lot of peeps in Vancouver who look for any excuse to participate in a group ride – might as well do some good while we’re at it… :)

  6. Alot of guys who “never want kids” end up being pretty good Dads. Alot of them recall those days as the happiest of their lives. Just sayin’…

  7. What Ride for Reading is doing is so huge, moving and powerful. Being a part of a delivery has made grown men cry with tears of joy. Watching children clutch books with such passion and gratitude in their eyes brings chills of elation to everyone involved. When a child has a great experience with a cyclists, it does more for the positive promotion of cycling than Bikes Belong, SRTS, LAB, IMBA, and every other advocacy group combined. Ride for Reading IS the best advocacy possible, and everyone should helping. Get your local bicycle shop to become a drop off point for books, work with a teacher to set up a delivery, send a donation, every little thing helps.

    One thing I have watched in amazement at deliveries is the opening of communication: shops talking to shops talking to roadies talking to commuters talking to mt bikers talking to hipters. Everyone involved gets along through this wonderful program, and it helps build community within.

    “However, the powers that be informed us that they could not promote the delivery because it cut into the expo. They stated that “It would take away from the expo.” ”

    …and that is why this pisses me off so much.

    let’s all work together so next year we deliver the 250,000th book at interbike.

    and here’s your slogan for next year:

    – Ride for Reading Interbike 2013 -
    – helping you take more away from the expo every year. -

  8. …now THAT is something >i>’strava’ can never measure…

    …the heart & soul of a buncha cyclists who care about the important things in life, not just ‘personal bests’

    …encouraging kids to read & ride opens little windows of personal growth & opportunity for them, no matter what their economic circle…

    …there will always be plenty of second hand books & bikes to go around…it’s just a matter of distribution & it looks like “ride for reading” is one of those organizations that’s getting it dialed in…

    …props to them & you too, dirty…

  9. Dirty, im in ahwatukee. Id love to help out. I too enjoy bikes and books.
    Please post details when finalized.

  10. Ride for Reading: I’m on it – Thank You!

    Bikesgonewild: Yes yes yes, though I’m convinced that riding and reading open up GREAT BIG windows of personal growth and opportunity for small people.

  11. …@ babble on…you’re quite right about it opening up a great big window…

    …basically i worded my thoughts poorly, in that i meant to say that for a young person, it was the start of that opening, particularly for youngsters from disadvantaged circumstances…

    …it being a peek out a window they might not have realized ‘could’ open wide for them…

    …as a child, reading first & then riding were, as now at 63, basically still my favorite activities…

  12. I was just giving you the gears.

    This is a great project. Cities full of literate kids on bikes would go a long way toward the future health and well being of our nations…

  13. we bring the truth to the youth. we say, hey youth, here’s the truth, better start wearing bullet proof.

  14. I just had a troubling thought-”Literate kids on bikes”-Isn’t that pretty much the essence of a hipster?

  15. Most hipsters are too cool to be literate. That was sooo yesterday. I mean, they read a book once, but it was long before you did and long before it became cool.

  16. Ohmygod, Green Eggs and Ham! If I had a buck for each time I read that to Li’l Joe when she was a wee one, I bet I could buy a custom Rivendell.

    Her fave, though, was Goodnight Moon, followed closely by The Runaway Bunny.

    All of that must have done her some good, though. College senior now, with dual majors in psych and sociology and honors out the yingyang. Guess we’ve done okay by her-She’s out on her own and she’s ready for it. Damned if I am, though. Never thought I could miss anyone that bad.

    Me, I’m a science fiction nut. Always have been. Heinlein’s my fave; especially “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, almost a retelling of our own Revolution, and “The Man who Sold the Moon”, especially the last part where Harriman cashes in his assets to commission a spaceship, and the Moon is the last thing he sees. Always figured if I hit the Lotto I’d buy my uncle, a retired aerospace engineer, a ride into outer space so he could see with his own eyes, that which he has brought within our reach.

    Oh, and speaking of Heinlein, “The Space Family Stone” is one you’ve got to read. Mountain bikes on Mars-’nuff said.

  17. Oh Oh Oh.

    Sci Fi ??

    Starship Troopers by Heinlein.

    The book….not the 1/3 assed movie of a few years ago.

    Primo.

    “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” ??

    Never read. I need to go to the library.

    I can’t believe joe is giving me advice. I feel so dirty.

  18. Well of COURSE “Starship Troopers”. “1/3 assed”? ThreeDee, that’s uncharacteristically generous of you. And “Stranger”. I remember when it was first published, how the hippies embraced it.

    Asimov (whom I shared a ride with in ’71), Bradbury (“Stranger” and “Martian Chronicles” back-to-back always got me going), Kilgore Trout’s “Venus on the Half Shell”, that great anthology of Ellison’s, “In the Land of Fear”, and probably fifty other lesser-known works I’ve read. Good stuff all.

  19. Peter Hamilton, _Pandora’s_Star_.

    I wanted something lighter after spending time on a George Orwell jag. Orwell is da man, we should all read _Homage_To_Catalonia_, especially in a bicker-fest election year.

  20. Never liked Asimov.

    I likey sci-fi with laser battles and Klingons and Tribbles.

    Kirk can go fuck his self.

    I’m a McCoy kinda guy.

    “MCCOY: Joe, I don’t know too much about these little tribbles yet, but there is one thing that I have discovered.
    Joe: What’s that, Doctor?
    MCCOY: I like them… better than I like you.”

  21. Been reading through some old comments and i just realized that our local commenters were actually having a discussion about books… there is hope for you boys yet! Cheers!