18 APR 17 | crank it forward

a cycling adventure 

As you may know, I kind of like to ride bikes.

Crank it Forward Joseph in Moab

You may also know I have spent some time on a few non-profit boards (CGBG and AIA). Well, I combined these two passions of mine and last November accepted a position on the Board of Directors of Cyclists 4 Community. Here is the story on how I ended up there.

Floods of 2013

A few years back (2011), after being inspired by friends who seemed to be able to juggle parenthood and owning a business (all while keeping their sanity) I started the endeavor that has been coined “the Vampire ride.” No, this has nothing to do with my widow’s peak or my overly large canines, but the practice of strapping on a bike light and heading out before the sun comes up. It didn’t hurt that over the years, I have started waking up earlier and earlier–ah the joys of aging!

After a season of this, having lost some weight and feeling much better about myself, a friend recommended I try the Wednesday Morning Velo (WMV) ride. Let me tell you, a Vampire usually rides alone or in groups of two to three at the most–certainly not with a “pack” of riders. But I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try.

After my first ride I was hooked. The ride originally started in the early 2000s as an alternative to some of the more competitive local rides (which can get pretty dicy) and was billed as a “networking” ride. The premise is that for the first half of the ride, we keep it at a moderate pace so you can chat and find out more about the people you are riding with. This was really a great group of people, all professionals who love to ride bikes. Some were pro racers, some were former pros, some were velo enthusiasts, and some were just architects / hack cyclists. The first year I joined, we would typically have around 25 riders–in 2017 we will have five different rides and we expect between 100 to 150 riders!

Crank it Forward C4C group shot

Wednesday Morning Velo quickly became a staple of my life between May and September.

Then, the morning of September 11, 2013 (coincidentally, the day before my Mom’s birthday) I woke up fully planning on going on my usual Wednesday Morning ride, but it was raining. It was really raining. A lot of rain.

On September the 12th, both the towns of Lyons (where my Mom lives) and Jamestown were evacuated due to flooding. Brandy’s 6th grade teacher died in the flood, as did a patriarch of Jamestown and two teenagers in Boulder. Heartbreaking.

Crank it Forward flood damage 1

I spend the days after desperately trying to get water out of the lower level of my house and then removing all the contents and drywall. I don’t remember if I went on any more WMV rides that season, all I remember is trying to get back to some sense of normalcy.

Crank it Forward flood damage 2

Crank it Forward flood damage 3

Meanwhile, while I was focused on my First World problems of whether or not to replace my boiler (it was cover by our insurance policy) or use the money to upgrade the tile in the downstairs bathroom, some dedicated WMV riders were spending their time doing something that really mattered.

They were saying to themselves, “You know, for years I have been riding my bike up to Jamestown and Lyons. Occasionally I may drift out into the drive lane a bit too much, and I can imagine a driver being pissed that I am crowding the road.” At some point, we have all been that driver who is running a bit late and just needs our commute to be as smooth as possible, and, no, a bicyclist crowding the lane does not help. These WMV riders understood that we cyclists had an impact on the communities we ride in, an impact that may not be seen as being quite complimentary to their community. They understood that there was some bad blood between cyclists and the people whose communities we ride in.

And they asked themselves, “What can we do to help, how can we give back?”

Birth of C4C

That was the birth of Cyclists 4 Community. Over the next few months, C4C organized a number of fundraisers starting with the Fat Tire Flurry that December, a ride up to Jamestown on what was left of the washed out road. No road bikes up there!

Crank it Forward fat tire flurry

It was a mess. For most of us participants, it was the first time seeing the real destruction that had occurred. Over the coming months they held a Cyclists 4 Jamestown and Cyclists 4 Lyons funding events, all of which raised more than $200,000 that was given to the towns’ Community Foundations.

Crank it Forward Jamestown BBQ

Last year, when the call for new C4C board members went out, I thought “this is something I really need to be a part of.” I wrote a letter about why I thought I would be a good board member, and after an excruciatingly long wait, I was invited to sit on the board. The C4C Board is a really great group of people who all love cycling and are very passionate about making the communities we ride in better places, safer for all, and accommodating for all.

Crank it Forward

We will be hosting our annual fundraising event, Crank it Forward, on May 12th at Rembrandt Yard. It is going to be a really fun event with beer, wine, food, and live music, as well as silent and live auction for super-cool items/trips/bikes, all donated by local businesses. The proceeds will help fund outreach and awareness programs and allow us to be prepared for future disaster relief efforts.

Crank it Forward flyer


Crank it Forward Joseph above treeline

Please remember to give that cyclist a extra little room if you can, they could be a friend or family member. And if you are riding your bike, remember to be respectful and courteous around cars–that driver behind you could be a friend or family member!

I would love to see you on May 12th!

Joseph Vigil, Architect
18 April 2017