How Much Can One Person Do for the Community?

I’m on a mission to make Tucson a better community.  After the crash of the real estate market in 2007 I struggled to find my purpose in the world.  I was very hurt watching friends skirt responsibility and give homes back to the banks with strategic foreclosures.  The Real Estate sales industry often gets a bad name that puts us on the list of such notable “professionals” as used cars salesmen and ambulance chasing lawyers.  Unfortunately, I saw cut throat behavior from agents that really did warrant the name real -a-snake agent.  In the decade leading up to this I had the same passion for promoting the benefits and ethics of the Realtor that I now have for bikes.  Honestly, being in the industry, most people are ethical and do a great job, but a few bad apples really did taint my opinion.  Real Estate still pays my bills(now accepting referrals;-), but Bicycles fuel me.

As many of you know, last year I set out to ride my bike every day for a year.   From May 5 2012 through May 12, 2013 there was not a day that the foot was not in the pedal.  Having a daily goal like that was challenging yet very fulfilling.  I’m not sure I’m up for that task as the price on the family was too high, but is it possible to do something every day for the bike community? Not much, perhaps it is just sharing a question about a cyclist who was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is looking for a coach who understands the intricacies of training with type 2 Diabetes, volunteering with El Grupo Youth Cycling, helping a friend in the hospital after an accident, telling others about new trails and roads, stopping to help someone with a mechanical, getting others involved, telling the stories of others who are doing the same things for the community or taking photos of a ride so the community has recorded shared memories.

To some extent this is what BikePilgrim was created for.  To share the good word and highlight all the good there are in the Bike Community.  I think 365 blog posts in the next year might be a stretch, but I am going to set out to do 365 bike related activities.

17- Photos of the Silverbell Century.  GABA does lots of rides leading up to EL Tour and has options from a 30 mile to a century.  I needed to go to the office, but made a detour to take a few hundred images.  There are so many rides going on every day I do not know where to point the camera.

16- A friend of my wife purchased a trike in the hopes of becoming more physically fit.  Unfortunately, like so many people it was never used.  Now, three years later, it is collecting dust and she hoping to get her money back, or at least as much as possible.  I posted it on facebook and would like to say that it sold it.  However, it really is a specialty item and apart from a comment from one of the two people I know who ride trikes, Nada.  If you know someone who is has some physical limitations, but is interested in still being on the road, let me know.

15- El Tour de Tucson opened its door to Brendan Lyons and Look! Save a life/ Arizona.  I met with most of the Staff and Lorena and Brendan to see what we can do to promote Look! At El tour.  Brendan is going to have the opportunity to talk at the dedication dinner and we will have a booth at the expo.  We will not have much time to organize it, would love some help, and look forward to seeing you there.

14- A ride with my son, Sam.  Is it really doing something for the community to go for a bike ride with your own kid?  I’m going with a yes.  If you are not spending time with your children on the bike, you are missing an opportunity.

13- El Grupo recovery ride in the park.  We played games and worked on skills.  I shared with the world what Zombie Tag looks like.  What a great lead into Halloween.  This is tag on the bikes.  As soon as you tag someone, they are also it and so on until only one person remains.

12- The Business Builder Bike Ride.   This is such a fun event to take pictures of.  All riders dressed for Halloween and it ends with a keg from Borderlands brewery.

11- Pot Luck Dinner and Costume Party at The NICA race.  Many teams showed up, we shared food, the kids got to know each other.  Lots of images on The Damion Alexander Team.  This is the start of something really magnificent.

10- Repeats today.  Both on “A” Mountain and what was going on for the community.  El Grupo, pushing the incorporation of Look! Save a life(seems to have stalled), and details for the NICA high school social.  I would like to find creative new things each day to fuel the community and keep this interesting, but like so much of life, it is going to be the consistent grind that has the real impact.

9- This weekend in the 3rd race in the NICA season.  Mike Perry ,John Shumaker and NICA Arizona  have accomplished so much this  first year, but the races are missing that “community” feeling.  I expressed this to Mike and he said he agreed and asked me to make it more social.  Apparently, no good deed goes unpunished.    The plan is a pot luck dinner for a few hundred and a Halloween Costume Contest with prizes.  How hard can that be with 5 days to plan.

8- Two days in a row in Sabino for Bike Patrol.  So here is the skinny of why I do Bike Patrol.  I actually really don’t like telling people what to do.  However, I really Really  REALLY don’t want to see cyclist lose the privilege to ride in the canyon.  I Said Privilege and not Right because it is by the grace of the Ranger we are allowed to be there.  Here is my speech ” ride only on the times and days that are allowed.  Never on Wednesday and Saturday and not betwwen 9AM and 5PM on the other days.  Keep the speed under 15.  Why?  Because the people who are walking and popping on and off trails are not looking for bikes and if a bad collision occurs, we might lose the privilege.

7- Sabino Canyon Bike Patrol.  Now that the Government is working I can do my volunteering.  Interested in being a Bike Ranger.  Ask me, I’ll tell you what we do.

6- A friend, Christina, asked me “Hi damion!!! My little sister and her two littles are coming to visit over Halloween and I am looking for either a bike burley or. Jogging stroller and also a Kelly pack to borrow…do you or anyone you know have either of those items I could borrow for a week! Hope you and your family are well!”   My post on facebook found her what she was looking for.  Making a difference can be as simple as just asking for someone.

5- El Grupo Coaching again.  Road ride on the East side of Tucson.  Nearly 50 miles.  Challenging ride for me, road bike was in the shop and I took the MTB.  These kids are almost to fast for me to keep up.

4- El Grupo coaching. This is likely the first of many that reference EL Grupo Youth Cycling.  Today, we were at Himmel park.  It is interesting to see hom many people are using the park these days.  In August at practices in Himmel we were the only users.  Tonight kids were everywhere.  Multiple soccer practices/games.  We had one father yelling at us to get off the grass with our bikes.  I went to talk with him.    He started the dialogue very aggressive and I let him explain his tell me how he felt.  He had children playing and he felt that bikes were dangerous to their safety.    He felt the bikes were dangerous to kids who were playing and we did not belong in the park.  He pointed towards the Catalinas and said there were hills and roads all over the place and that Himmel park was no place for us.  I don’t personally like confrontation.  However, I really do love trying to calm a situation where everyone can have a better understanding of each other and walk away with a mutual appreciation.  I think he had some very valid concerns.  After a few minutes, I asked if I could talk. First, I asked his name and introduced myself.  His name was Jeff.    I explained that we have the blessing of parks and rec, we have been using the park for 7 years, our kids a very aware that others are using the park and that we are to give the right away.   I appreciated his concerns and that is why I made the effort to come back and talk with him and that I would remind the entire team to be aware of pedestrians.   He was still not a fan of us being there and said that he still had concerns that we were going to hit someone, but he was noticeably calmer then he had been.  After I left him I did talk to the entire team about being aware and giving pedestrians the right of way, even if we are racing.

This really made me think about the perception that people have of cyclist.  We had the right to be in the park.  We were being safe.  How many other people were watching and thinking bad things, but did not say anything?  How do we engage the masses to understand we have as much of a right to use the parks, trails, roads as others?  If we are intimidating people and reckless, it does not help our cause.  At the same time, Jeff and his kids were playing 30-40 feet away from our crit course.  There was no danger of them being hit, but even after our dialogue, I feel he walked away mad at bikes.  I would love feedback on this.  I’d love ideas on what we can do to make it better.  4/365

3- When Brendan Lyons was in the hospital after being hit by a car I asked what he would really like to see come out of his situation and if how I could help to make it a reality.  He shared his vision for Look! Save a Life/Arizona and  that seeing it incorporated as a Non-profit 501c3 so it can accept donations and spread the word for cycling safety would be his dream.  Today, I made the first steps to make this a reality.  The past week I have been looking for people with experience in incorporation and today started a dialogue with 6 interested cyclist.  The First two steps, naming the director, Brendan Lyons, and the name, Look, Save a Life/ Arizona are complete.  We have the forms for Incorporation and will start on that soon.  We have asked a few cycling lawyers if they will assist pro-bono, but are still working on that.    If you have experience and are interested, we would love to talk to you for the board of directors or to help get the documents for incorporation in order. 3/365

2-  Ryan Roher with the Pima County Sherriff Dept said “I’m putting together a presentation for local    high schools.  It’s a broad presentation but it does have some relationship to cycling.  We specifically talk about distracted driving/texting etc.  I’d like to include the Look! Save a Life logo and perhaps some information on Brendan.”   Logo sent to Deputy Roher and info on Look! Save A Life/ Arizona.  2/365

1 – A question from one of my elementary school teacher that was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and is looking for a cycling coach(that’s right- I’m so into community I still talk to most of my teachers from elementary school after 35 years).  My facebook post received multiple recommendations and 2 of the coaches  are also T2 Diabetics themselves. A few personal messages and some introductions and 1/365 is in the books.

I’ve heard people say they don’t support diabetes research as they feel people with diabetes made         lifestyle choices that resulted in the condition.  Not True!!!  On the topic of bikes and Diabetes, one of the great fundraising rides each year is the Tour De Cure.  It is community  oriented  multitasking at its best. Bike ride, help others.

I originally posted this on October 15, 2013.  How much can we do for the community in a year.  Can’t wait to look back in October 2014 and see this.

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