Tuesday, August 09, 2011

50 kids. 100 miles. Lots of rain.

So Amy does some work with her old full time employer, the MGR foundation. They are into doing good stuff for kids or whatever. Pittsburgh public schools got stimulus money to put on summer programs the past two years. Anyway, I got roped into helping again this year. The trip was WAY longer and had WAY more kids.

The plan: Take 50 inner city kids on a 50 mile bike ride Saturday. Camp out. Ride home 50 miles Sunday. Kids are all 11-14 years old from what I could tell. A lot of the kids live in a housing project that is literally surrounded by barbed wire fencing and has a gate to enter/exit.

Day 1: Roll out of Pittsburgh. It is drizzling from the start, but the kids are stoked. They all are on comfort bikes with 21 or so gears, huge saddles, grip shifting and V brakes. As we approached our lunch stop (30 miles), the drizzling turned into torrential down pouring. I could not see out of my glasses. Morale was low. Like real low. I think maybe 6 kids did not finish Day 1. Most of those 6 made it 30 miles.

The last 20 miles were a muddy (crushed lime stone mud) 1.5% uphill grade. We started riding at 8am, and I think the last finishers got to camp around 5 or 6pm. This includes some stops.

Luckily, the later afternoon was great. After spending up to 8 hours to finish the 50 miles, the kids could swim in a pool, in the river, catch cray fish, shower, snack, etc. The rain let up and it was hot. The kids had fun. Dinner was catered pasta, followed by Smores and hotdogs on the fire.

4am. FLOODING rain. I heard kids talking, and I went to speak to them about keeping it down. As I approached their tent, I realized that the whole area was a puddle. I heard a kid say:
"I think the river came up to us," talking about the river 100 yards from the camp site. They were totally submerged. It kept raining.

Woke up at 6:15 to more rain. A lot of "I aint riding." We did breakfast / motivational speech under a pavilion. There was 2-3" of standing water in the pavilion. THE RAIN LET UP! The kids shredded their way home. I think all but 2 or 3 finished the 50 miles the second day.

So: Like 40 kids did all 100 miles. Like 45 did at least 80 miles. Sick.

Awesome quotes:

Some random 12 year old girl that I told could not shower Sunday AM cause she took too long to pack up her sleeping bag:

"That half bald guy is always grumpy."

My man Moleek after I told him that he could not have coffee cause it could stunt his growth (he is in 7th grade and was like 5'11 and like 180 lbs)

"Is that why you stopped growing?"


Kids this age can eat anything. Like if you put a buffet in front of them, it will be gone. Its just a matter of how long.

Some college kids look like middle school kids.

Some middle school kids look like college kids.

If you are reading this, you probably ride. Imagine doing an 8 hour ride on a 30lb hybrid in the pouring rain on a dirt trail. Imagine putting in back to back 8 hour days wearing jean shorts (they were told to wear gym clothes but I dont think some had them).

My girl Lakin would sprint at 15 mph for 20 seconds then coast for 45... she did this for about 100 miles.

My man Moleek on the far right. Dude was huge.

Kids eat nonstop.

This is not a professional bike fit.


reverend dick said...

SO rad. That makes me smile.

I am stunned that so many rallied the 2nd day. A sag would have been hard to turn down. Maybe there was no alternative?

Matthew Ruscigno said...


Ryanne Palermo said...

Love it in every way. The comments and the pictures (and thinking of all that rain) almost made me wet my pants. I think adult riders could learn a lot from these kids. No carbon bikes, almost no one accepting sag. HTFU is right.

Unknown said...

best story i've read this year

Seth said...

Awesome. Just awesome.

Anonymous said...

Love this...One of your best entries atmo