Please sponsor me!

Jun 02, 2011 in Life

wpid-tdc-2011-06-2-18-412.jpgOn Sunday June 12 I will be participating in the Tour de Cure here in Rochester. This is a charity ride in support of finding a cure for diabetes.

Every one of us has a relative or a friend who suffers from this disease or has succumbed to it. In my family both my mother and her mother suffered. And perhaps on a smaller level, my cat Squeak has diabetes too.

I ask that you sponsor my ride with a donation. Every dollar counts and every dollar helps. I will be riding the century distance at the event. If you have a bicycle and you live in the greater Rochester area then you should really consider joining in the event and ride with us!

You can make your contribution on my personal donation page.

I rode Tour de Cure last year as well. If you like to get an impression of the event first before making your gift then you can read my experiences here.

Please made a donation.

Thank you.

Of drink bottles, barrels and flats

Jun 13, 2010 in Cycling

drinkbottles.jpgToday was the Tour de Cure ride, in support of finding a cure to diabetes.

I signed up a long time ago for the century ride (for the unwashed: that’s a 100 miles) assuming I would be riding 3-4 times a week and completed 2 or 3 centuries before then. Alas, between writing code for the secret startup, selling the house and moving not much cycling happened the last month or so except for weekend rides. Nonetheless, with the house stuff finally done with (yay!) I was very much looking forward to riding. With its start time of 7:30 am and needing to register required getting to Mendon Ponds Park at 7, leaving the apartment at 6:30, getting up at 5:30. Painful.

Got the bicycle from the basement storage into the car, helmet and shoes there too, the bag with clothing, food, maps and stuff. Travel mug with coffee and I’m ready to go. Many cars trying to park at Mendon Ponds. I find a spot on the side of the road. I get the bicycle out the back of the car, put the front wheel in, the computer on the handlebars, hang the helmet on the handlebar. Pump the tires. There is something more though. I do do these things indeed before the ride and then there’s one more thing that I do with the bike or put on it. But what? I get the mug, take a sip of coffee and stare at the bike. What can it be? Ohh! Drink bottles. Right, they’re still on the kitchen table at Webster Manor. Hmm. Well, I still want to ride, I’m sure the route will soon take us past a convenience store.

With my number pinned to the back of the jersey I roll into the parking lot where the start is, arriving just in time for the team group picture. A large crowd of cyclists is lining up behind the starting line. The different distances start at different times (shorter ones later). I don’t think this many are doing the century so I guess many others decided to get an early start. This leads to the usual hazards: many riders not very good at handling their bikes at slow speeds, many cyclists too impatient, leading to some collisions where mainly pride got hurt. We roll out of the park northwise and then swing back around the park. Already within the first two miles there are several flat tires. This scene will continue throughout the ride: almost every mile you would see stopped riders on the side of road changing tires. Also within the first few miles I get stuck behind a car that is hesitating a very long time to pass a slow group before it. The result is that I loose contact with the team. I try for a couple of miles to close the gap but with a train consisting of Gary, Bob, Dwight, Dave, Ed, Billy and Sara that’s a tall order and I let it go. I’ll need to stop anyways at the convenience store in Rush.

The low mileage of the last few weeks doesn’t seem to bother me as I get a decent clip going. At a junction I catch up with a fellow RBC club member (sorry dude, forgot your name!). He latches on and we ride together to the rest stop at 28 miles. He tells me his dad got a flat and is somewhere behind him. His dad is 72 doing a century ride. That’s impressive. After the rest stop I pick up the rhythm again. The landscape rolls a bit here. With the low clouds, sometimes fog, there isn’t much to see. I start thinking of the purpose of the ride: the cure for diabetes. Several friends and family members suffer or have suffered that disease, including my mother. I pass the time paging through fond memories of my mother who passed away two years ago (just a few of these memories you can find here). And my cat Squeak has diabetes too.

I come past a farm. The owner put a sign on the side of the road: Barrels For Sale. This makes me chuckle. We should send some to BP.

At the Lakeville rest stop (mile 60 or so) I see Gary, Dwight and Larry assisting Larry repairing his flat. Gary tells me the rest of the group is waiting at the top of the hill. I have mixed feelings about this. It is great to see the team and ride with the group but the pace is guaranteed to be murderous. But hey, I’m here! Let’s roll! With the flat repaired we ride up the hill to the group, down the other side. At the bottom we turn right in order to go down one side of Conesus Lake and back the other. The pace indeed shoots up. Till then my ride’s average was 19.2 mph. This is going to pull it up quite a bit. I tell myself I’ll try to stay with the group till we swing around the far end – about 8 or 9 miles.
Halfway, the paceline is moving between 24 and 27 mph, Dave behind me calls out “Slowing!”
A typical warning to cyclists behind you that there’s a significant drop in speed.
I look at the riders in front of me; we seem still to be pacing along nicely, thank you.
So I ask Dave: “Are you sure?”
“Yes, “ is his reply, “I’m very good at distinguishing between 26 and 25.5mph.”

On the other side the road rises up. Two riders from a group we caught earlier are in the middle just ahead of me. They slow down but don’t move to the side. One says: “I got a flat” but they still stay in the lane. This creates a gap of about 50 yards with the group. I think about standing up and riding to them but decide that racing down one side of Lake Conesus is good enough; don’t have to do that too on the other side. I drop the pace coasting back to the rest stop at Lakeville. Okay, coasting is perhaps a bit too much credit: I’m very tired. First Ed then Ginn pass me but it’s all good. I catch up at the rest stop. They have sandwiches here, yummy! I notice that everybody looks tired. While it’s delightful sitting on the chair, after I finished my lunch I get up. I want to ride on before my legs get too stiff. Otto thinks so too. We get our bikes, are about to roll, when I notice I have a flat tire. I use a certain word to capture my, ehh, disappointment. I get the rear wheel out, sit down on a folding chair to perform the repair. The group is ready to go. Ed calls back if I want them to wait. No, please go and ride on. Very unlikely that I’ll hold a back wheel.

With the repair done the route goes to Avon. After a mile or so the road goes up a bit to the I-390 overpass. Right there I’m being yelled at: Peter’s got a flat and the whole group is there. While Peter repair his tire a cyclist with a very nice TT-bike comes walking up the road. He’s got a flat too but no pump. Guess that didn’t fit the aesthetics of the bicycle? We lend him one of ours. He pumps air back in the tire. But only few hundred yards later he already pulls over: with a puncture, just pumping the tire doesn’t get you far.

I let the group go wanting to pedal my own, slower, tempo. After a few turns the road will take us into Lima. Just a mile or so before the village there’s Jack&Jill’s Inn. Their sign always makes me smile: Spaghetti Our Specialty, since 1947. After 60 years you do get really good at it. Just past the inn Larry and Ginn are on the side of the road: another flat for Larry, his third. I stop too. Ginn and Larry seem to have matters under control but I don’t mind the break. We roll on through Lima on our way to Honeoye Falls. And just on the other side of Lima Ed is on the side of the road: yes, a flat. A sweep&safety car stopped here too. They have a good foot pump. Larry takes the opportunity to get more air in his tire than is really possible with our hand pumps. A cyclist we just passed stops too and takes out his front wheel: another flat.

From there our group of four actually makes it back to Mendon Ponds Park without further incident. A nice touch too: at the finish line a group of enthusiastic people clapping for and cheering each rider. One by one we find our cars and change out of the wet cycling gear. Then strolling back to the field where the tents are. Dave Lamb did such a good job with the team that the level of fundraising awarded us with our own tent. Everybody hangs in their chairs. There are some conversations but there are also a few nodding off. Peter and Michael look remarkably fresh as if they mere did a little stroll in the park. We finish the day sipping and toasting champagne courtesy of our team leader, mr David Lamb.

The flats notwithstanding and the tired legs notwithstanding, it was a great ride and a great event. Very well organized. All the rest stops were great especially the sandwiches at Lakeville.

ROCTwestival, or photographing Rochester’s famous

Mar 26, 2010 in Photography

ROCTwestival.jpgLast night was ROC Twestival, part of a worldwide series of charity events to promote the cause of education. These are entirely volunteer organized and hosted events. Our local hero you see pictured here, Matthew Raw, who again pulled of a great event and doing it while appearing as relaxed and laid back as ever!

This time it was at Lovin’ Cup which is behind Barnes&Nobles store at RIT. Now I had been to that bookstore many times, always walked in through the front door and left through the front door. This time I walked around store en route to Lovin’ Cup. Turns out there’s a whole village of cafes, restaurants and shops behind it! Made me think of Once Upon A Time In The West, the scene with Claudia Cardinale arriving at the train station. As she walks through the station house the camera pans over the building revealing the town behind it.

In the afternoon I realized that I hadn’t fed the beast that is Flickr in quite a while and decided to bring my camera which led to some frantic battery charging….

Some pretty good local bands played. I saw Moho Collective, Sinzibukwud Band, Eight Bar Measure, Teagan and the Tweeds, and missed some others.

I had a lot of fun taking pictures at the event; it was a bit like photographing Rochester’s famous people. See if you can spot all of them!

Mosey on over to the gallery!

Kiva.org also loans to the US

Jun 18, 2009 in Life

kiva-logo1.gifFor those unfamiliar with Kiva: Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. It is the world’s first person to person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. I wrote about Kiva before: http://blog.onno.com/?p=74. You should join.

Recently Kiva added the US as a region from where requests for loans can be submitted. I noticed this when I checked into the website a while ago. It surprised me. Upfront this country didn’t appear to me as a target for an organization like Kiva. In Kiva I am a member of the Lotus team. There a discussion started on the merits of this event. This blog entry attempts to capture my thoughts.

Of the eight loans I am currently participating in seven are to the continent of Africa and one to Asia (Cambodia). For entirely subjective reasons I focus on Africa. I feel that this continent almost as a whole is severely challenged in joining in the world economy, provide prosperity to its inhabitants. As said this is entirely subjective, you may well argue otherwise and I may well not have rational, logical arguments to counter you. I am mainly including this here for personal context.

As is correctly mentioned in our team’s discussion, all of us decide for ourselves who we loan to. Thus the short answer to the issue of US loans is: “well then, if you don’t like it don’t put your money there.”

But for me that is not the whole answer.

While I certainly decide for myself who to loan to, I do feel that the course that Kiva itself takes does have influence on how effective and appropriate my, admittedly small, contributions are within that larger scheme. I don’t want to deny that any fellow inhabitant of the US is deserving of support for personal initiative. But it does seem to me that there are many more avenues available to that person than, in my context, a farmer in Cameroon. I do realize that I am in the higher sections of the economy and so I may have more options to pursue my initiatives than average but still almost all of us will have collateral in one form of another that can be used towards securing more traditional funding for our initiatives than are accessible to that farmer in Cameroon.

I just took a quick glance at some of the request for loans from the US. I see amounts of $7450, $10000, $5750 and $9000. I can’t help but grinch when thinking what impact Kiva can have with those amounts in third world countries.

The question for me is does including the US open up the reach of Kiva, bringing in new lenders that otherwise may not have joined? And these having joined will they then also loan to initiatives in third world countries? I don’t know. I hope that the Kiva organization does have the spill-over effect in mind and is strategizing to make it happen as much as possible and evangelize to these loaners the other regions of the world.

At the same time I do not want to dictate to anyone who to or where they should loan to. To me that freedom is one of the key characteristics that caused me to join Kiva. At the same time I am uncertain about the necessity of Kiva’s involvement to microfinance US initiatives. So perhaps my conclusion and advice to Kiva is: tread carefully.

All this notwithstanding. Kiva is a fabulous initiative and you should join us. You can make loans of as small as $25. I know of no other effort where you get to decide where exactly and to whom exactly your contribution, all of your contribution, goes. I joined about a year ago. I have made, or rather participated in, 8 loans so far. Two of them have been repaid and I re-contributed those funds to other loan requests. It will give you great philosophical satisfaction to participate. If you have questions please email me: onno@onno.com.

Kiva

Jul 02, 2008 in Life

kiva-logo.gifYesterday I signed up at Kiva.org and today I made my first loans.

Kiva works on the basis of micropayments and allows you as the lender to loan directly to an entrepreneur you choose to help lift them out of poverty. On their web site you can browse profiles of farmers, small shop owners, crafts workers, teachers, etc etc. All of the money you loan goes to the person you selected. Many of the loans these persons request are very small in Western appreciation but go very far for them in ability to improve their own lives, their families and their villages. You contribute to a portion of the overall loan (say $50 to a loan of $1000). What I like about this system is the personality of it, that I can contribute to several projects. In the profiles the entrepreneur also specifies the duration of the requested loan and so over that period she or he will pay you back. You can then withdraw that amount or re-loan it to another project.

Today I contributed to:

kiva1.jpg Cecilia Munyang in Cameroon.

kiva2.jpg Dora Yeboah in Ghana.

kiva3.jpg Amisse Mahomed Rai in Mozambique.

It would greatly please me if you browsed over to Kiva.org and checked it out yourself, and better still, joined up and start to sponsor your own favorite projects. Just a few dollars, or euros, go a long way.

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