I think everyone would agree, 2016 was anything but uneventful: we elected a reality TV star to represent us on the world stage, scientists discovered the feather covered tail of a dinosaur encased in amber, the list of amazing artists who are no longer with us would probably double the length of this post, and something called “Mouthguard Talk” happened:

We’ve also had a pretty wild ride here at BeersNGears.

The Good

We have had far too many successes this year to go into detail for each one, but they started back in February with the launch of the Bicycle Benefits Campaign which resulted in our first 5 local businesses joining the program and supporting cycling in Winston-Salem. We shared some bike-love at local events like the SciWorks Repair Fair and Earth Day Fair and brought people to new places with our Discover Your City rides. During National Bike Month, in May, we partnered with Habitat for Humanity for our first BikeNBuild event and had a good ole’ time during Bike to the Ballpark. We’re so pumped to have held the third annual HalloWheels Festival and Winston-Salem’s first ever Cranksgiving food drive on two wheels. And we wrapped it up with a cold but merry Holiday Lights Ride & Toy Drive.

In addition to riding we also began organizing Winston-Salem’s first committee to represent and improve the mountain bike trails and community. We held monthly Open Bike Nights where anyone can come learn how to work on their own bikes and meet other people who ride.

We experienced a lot growth this year; personally, professionally and as an organization. We were able to learn how to be better advocates at the NC Bike Summit and build our relationships with other organizations like Asheville on Bikes, Roadies and Dirties of Davidson County, Piedmont Fat Tire Society, Oaks and Spokes, and BikeWalk NC.

We’ve been able to partner with some great companies who believe in what we’re doing and started contracting local artists to create our event artwork. We have worked with our local elected officials and city staff to make riding here in Camel City better and have seen some positive steps taken to make cycling safer across the state.

We met or made progress on every single goal we set in our 2016 Strategic Plan.

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The Bad and The Ugly

All of this progress and excitement hasn’t come without some disappointments along the way. Real talk: when we spend 40+ hours planning an event–brainstorming, planning routes, replanning routes, re-replanning routes, finding and working with local artists for artwork, securing venues, writing blogs, taking and editing photos, keeping Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook current, and everything else that goes into it–and only 2 people show up, we feel like when you’re less than 2 miles into a ride you’ve been really looking forward to when a stick jumps off the ground, into your wheel and wrings your derailleur off like a wet napkin.

When we saw a need to organize our local mountain bikers to meet the growing demand for places to ride and had one local bike shop reject our effort to include their customers in our discussions and another one bailed on us at the last minute, we felt like a pinch-flat when you forget to get your toolkit off of your other bike before you left.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” While less than ideal event attendance or engagement from some members of the bike community aren’t necessarily failures on our part, they sure didn’t leave us enthusiastic about what we’re doing, but we keep pushing through because in all reality, the successes we have experienced this year kick our disappointments in the teeth!

Rolling Forward

All said and done, 2016 has been a fantastic year for us at BeersNGears and we’re gearing up for a great 2017. We’re planning for even more growth and even more success for next year, and of course more riding and beer! To make this happen we’ll need more awesome people to contribute their time and resources to help make Winston-Salem the coolest place to be a cyclist.

We’re still looking for ride leaders, event planners and always welcome more talent in anything media related; art, graphics, writing, photography, videography, or any other skills you might have. If you’re interested in getting more involved just send a message and we’ll get you plugged in.

You can also help us by taking a quick survey, we want to know what you liked or disliked about what BeersNGears did this year as well as lend your insight going into next year. Share it with your friends that ride, or might want to ride some day. We’ll use this info to help us plan for 2017 and beyond.

There’s not enough thanks we can give to everyone who has supported us this year. If you showed up to ride, read our blogs, emailed your elected officials, helped promote our events, gave your time, talents, or money — we thank you!

We’re already looking forward to the challenges and the successes of 2017 and hope that you’ll come ride along with us.

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