I happened to race on Sunday, June 3rd without really knowing I was racing, or that i had signed up for a race. Let me explain: a few weeks ago my friend Janine Verstraeten contacted me about a fundraiser ride she was doing to raise funds for two local charities: Gearing Up and the Cadence Cycling Foundation. After clicking through to her donation link and exploring some other pages, I realized this fund raiser was tied to an inaugural event scheduled for the same day as the International Philadelphia Race Professional Men's and the Women's Pro Liberty Classic, the biggest race day event in the United States. This year, the Bicycling Open Gran Fondo/ Charity of Choice event offered the option to ride 3 early morning laps of the actual race course, including the infamous Manayunk Wall, and tied it to a fund raising effort. I immediately wanted to sign up to help Janine raise her funds, and this is how the Liberty Belles fundraising team came to be.
The entire journey, from joining forces with Janine, to reaching out to hundreds of potential donors, to finally lining up with some legends of the sport that morning, has been transformational and meaningful, to say the least. Little did Janine and I know that on Sunday morning, we would be toeing the line alongside some of America's cycliing legends including: Wayne Stetina (http://www.usbhof.org/board-of-directors/156-wayne-stetina), Bruce Donaghy,(http://www.usbhof.org/board-of-directors/166-bruce-donaghy) Bobby Lea(http://www.usacycling.org/bobby-lea.htm), Selen Yeager(http://bicycling.com/blogs/fitchick/) and John Eustice(http://www.spartacycling.com/media/). The gun went off and immediately the front group strung out into a blaze of speed. The first few miles were so fast, I was begining to believe this was a race after all! The first time up the steep pitch of the Manayunk Wall, me still half asleep and way under-caffeinated, my teammate Janine attacks hard up the climb! She manages to drop me and most of the men in our grupetto. Eventually, we settled into a good, fast, even pace with the next two laps having us re-grouping after the long descents from the Wall. We crossed the line, hands together and over our heads with a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
As former Liberty Classic competitors, this event was somehow way more special to us. We found out later that day that Janine and I had crossed the line tied for 3rd place with the exact finishing time. Additionally, we raised the third largest amount among all fundraising teams, almost $5,000!. We even got a call out to the TD Bank podium for our efforts and were fetted with bouquets of flowers. However, the most satisfying aspect of this whole experience has been the exposure that this event has allowed us to bring to two organizations dear to our hearts: Gearing Up and Cadence Cycling Foundation
Gearing UP provides women in transition from abuse, addiction, and/or incarceration with the skills, equipment, and guidance to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth.(http://www.gearing-up.org/). The Cadence Cycling Foundation is a nonprofit youth development organization that uses competitive cycling as a means to connect with under served youth, ages 9 – 18, and help them grow into healthy, happy, and responsible adults by increasing physical fitness and well-being, building life skills, and developing post high school education goals – whether pursuing a college education or vocational training.(http://www.cadencefoundation.org/)
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