They Ride for a Reason

Mar 31, 2010

In 2008, we dedicated the September/October issue of Adventure Cyclist to the phenomenon of cause-related bike travel. At the time, I felt that it was a growing trend and wanted to draw attention to these rides, some organized through a large nonprofit health organization such as the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or others, some organized as single-person, or small-group endeavors.

If I thought this movement was big then, I don’t know how to describe it now. Over the last five years, submissions and queries for publication in Adventure Cyclist have more than quadrupled to something in the neighborhood of 750 per year. There are days when I get five or more queries, and now about a third of these have a cause-related aspect to them, many with personal heart-rending stories attached. Make no mistake, I think it’s extraordinary and admirable that so many people have decided to undertake these arduous journeys hoping to contribute toward the solution of many of society’s numerous ills, especially when so many others seem only interested in accumulating as much for themselves as possible.

As much as I admire these people and what they’re doing, it does put me in a bit of a quandary because, by deciding to cover one or even a few of these rides, it requires that I make a judgment that the others are somehow not worthy of the same coverage, and that simply isn’t the case. I only wish we could cover them all.

Another issue is that, at its core, Adventure Cyclist is about the adventure itself and less about the reason for the adventure. I haven’t concluded that adventure is more important than solving any of today’s pressing challenges, not by any stretch, but I am concluding that it’s more necessary than ever for people to experience adventure in their evermore constricted lives (especially by bicycle) and that promoting this notion is at the very core of our mission. So Adventure Cyclist will remain dedicated to the adventure aspect of bike travel and we’ll have to figure out another way to promote cause-related rides, possibly from within the Cyclists’ Yellow Pages, our online resource for all things bicycle travel (www.adventurecycling.org/cyp), or in another way that hasn’t yet seeped into my consciousness (or conscientiousness).

Right now I’ve got 64 cause-related rides of a wide variety in a database, and I’m adding to it every day, so if you know of one, or are planning to embark on one, feel free to email me the details or a website so I can add it to my collection. You can email me at editorATadventurecyclingDOTorg.

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AND THEN, THE MENTAL CALISTHENICS is written by Mike Deme, editor of Adventure Cyclist and publications director for Adventure Cycling Association.

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