About month ago, I was publishing 2016: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and now it’s well into 2017 and we have to take all that we learned from 2016 and roll it into our plan for 2017. And get other people on board.
It was just a little over two years ago…
In September of 2014, when we had the grand idea of using BeersNGears to promote this thing we call “bike culture.” I’m currently here to tell you: Had I known it would’ve been this arduous, I would’ve never brought it up. So by now, I’m sure you’re wondering why we keep doing it if it’s been so challenging and the best answer I can give you is just one word: connection.
The bicycle is the king of connection and it’s why we keep doing what we do. In the most simplest of forms, the bike connects a rider to a destination. So a bike connects people to places, but it also connects us to our environment and to each other. Bikes are connected with reducing greenhouse emissions and dependence on automobiles, improving physical and mental health, economic and community development, and even helping refugees. These are just a fraction of the umpteen-thousand reasons why I love bikes and continue to promote them.
There’s one that I would like to highlight, though; one I want to make sure doesn’t go unnoticed: The bike has a unique way of connecting us, people. Across all demographics, across all ideologies, and across social boundaries that we wouldn’t have otherwise crossed; unless the humble bike be the reason.
A brief history about me:
I’m a white male, born into a southern, tightly knit, middle class family. We went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night … Every. Week. We went to Grandmother’s house on Sundays for lunch and we were raised with a very clear ideology. You probably have some idea of what that was. Though, if you don’t, I wouldn’t worry about it, it’s not the point. My point is: I lived in a small bubble and it wasn’t until I started riding bikes that I started meeting people outside of my bubble. People who were like (and some not-so-like) me who had different worldviews and different perspectives to share. I was connected to a much larger social network, instantly.
The best part about these new connections was that I didn’t pick them–I was exposed to people and to perspectives that I would have never picked to be around me based on my upbringing. I was riding bikes with firefighters, pilots, police officers, people who worked in government, people who worked in the nonprofit sector, professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, artists, undergrad students, grad students, and even a dude that makes 3D art for video games. People who lived in the nice part of town, and people who were in the neighborhoods most of us avoid going through after dark. There were also people who practiced different religions and some that didn’t have one at all; every single one of which, I had presuppositions about. Most of which turned out at best partly true, many were completely false.
I made connections with people I wouldn’t have ever made connections with, and my life will forever be better for it.
All this to say,
When I look ahead at all the plans we have for BeersNGears in 2017 and the tremendous amount of time, money, emails, meetings, and steadfast commitment that will be required, I have to ask myself, “Is it worth it?” And without a doubt, I can remember all the incredible people I’ve met along the way and say, “It is totally worth it!”
So now that I’ve talked about the why, we should address the how. So how do we go about enriching people’s lives by building cycling culture? I’m glad you asked.
We have to address the the 60% of people who are “interested but concerned” about riding bikes. In order to help create those complex social connections, we have to make connections from point A to point B easier to bike. We are working hard to advocate for more bike lanes and mountain bike trails, better policy and enforcement, more education and all the other things that empower people to get out ride. You can read about how we’re planning to build bike culture this year in the BeersNGears 2017 Plan.
Making it happen
If you share our passion for building bike culture and making connections please get involved. We could sure use your help! Check out these ways you can make a difference…
- Attend our events and rides. We want to see you. Come out to our rides and events, not only to have a good time but to show support for cycling in Winston-Salem.
- Spread the word. We need your help to get the word out about our events, our blogs, and the work we do in Winston-Salem. Share our posts on social media and tell your friends!
- Join the BeersNGears team. If you love riding and want more people to ride too, join the team and share your time and talents to make that a reality. We have a variety of volunteer positions available and we’d love to get you involved. Send us a message to get started.
- Fund our work. If you support what we do, help us continue doing it. We need money to keep it up. You can donate online, buy our BeersNGears swag, participate in our fundraisers, or book your own chartered bike trip. Every dollar helps us keep rolling.
I look forward to seeing everyone at our next event! Until then, keep the wheels spinning.