Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer of Volunteering

A couple weekends ago, I began this summer volunteering as a crew member of Castle Rock's Elephant Rock Bicycle Ride.  I drove back and forth all day to pick up weary bicyclists and transport them and their bicycles either to the next SAG Stop for emergency repairs or back to the starting location of the ride.  I had a great time and spent the day outdoors in wonderful weather.

I have been volunteering weekly for Project ReCycle as a bicycle mechanic since moving back to Colorado in 2014, and have been recently asked to step up to a position as Communications Manager.  In this volunteer position, I am responsible for keeping calendars current, writing newsletters, coordinating media coverage, and for shooting Internet video of tutorials, events, fund raising and training.  I like the opportunity for the experience I am getting working in a non-profit and the fact I can use my previous media experience as a television news and production videographer to support Project ReCycle in their mission.  And I am still welcome to use my hands to repair bicycles.  You can read more about Project ReCycle HERE.

In mid-June, I am driving the Project ReCycle truck during the premiere Ride The Rockies event, where the PR Team will be bicycling the beautiful Colorado mountains.  I will be setting up the truck, tent and tables in the communities the ride passes through, working a SAG stop, shooting photos of the Project ReCycle Bicycle Team riders, and sleeping on the ground each night in the mountains.  I rode Ride The Rockies back in 2001 and have been looking forward to supporting this event in some way because it is so professionally executed.  It was my best supported tour by bicycle, ever.
It may sound funny that I am supporting bicycling instead of backpacking, but after I broke my collar bone in 1998 and couldn't carry a backpack, bicycling became my great love.  Many years later, with ultralight equipment and lots of bone-healing, I have returned to my first love of backpacking, making my first overnight backpacking trip in 15 years (read about it here).  I still bicycle occasionally, but not the 200 mile weeks I used to ride.  And supporting Project ReCycle has given me a great community-centered opportunity to help children with bicycles.
It is something I did in the mid-1990's too.  I picked up children's bicycles that were in the trash, repaired them and saw they were freely given to needy children in the community.  The tearful, down-on-his-luck dad who was so thankful, hugging me tightly for the gift to his child is something I will never forget.  Too bad I didn't see the non-profit business opportunity of doing this at the time.  But the people at Project ReCycle did see it, followed through, and several years later, have asked me to help them.
So, while working a media job and volunteering for Project ReCycle, I will still be getting out this summer on overnight backpacking trips, starting after Ride The Rockies.  The tent I purchased for Ride The Rockies will be my same tent for backpacking this summer.  So you see, bicycling and backpacking in my life are both related in some way.
Maybe the jobs I applied for haven't worked out as I planned, or the cool business opportunities didn't materialize, but by hanging in there and continuing to volunteer for something important to me, life is working out, and that's the lesson.  And it is working out pretty well.

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