Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Interview with Paul Beaver

Pedal for the Pantry is just a handful of days away(Saturday April 6th starting at 11:30am at Forbes wall across from the Original Hotdog Shop in Oakland). As it approaches I find myself getting excited about this ride. One of the reasons that I am excited about this ride is that I had a very similar ride planned some 7 months ago. I had mad the mistake of planning my ride for the same weekend that the last gasps of the hurricane came through.

The ride was a complete washout.

I have higher hopes for Pedal for the Pantry. Another reason (and probably the best reason) is that over the last year I have gotten to know the man who organized this ride. I consider him my friend. So when I got the chance to sit down with Paul and talk to him about the ride and cycling in general I counted myself as lucky.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.

1. Tell me about Pedal for the Pantry and how the idea got started?

Pedal for The Pantry is a biking event and food drive bringing the cycling community together to raise awareness of a local need while having a fun afternoon riding around the city. The inspiration for the event came about after I had attended a Cranksgiving event in Philedelphia of 2012.(http://www.cranksgiving.org/) It was my first ride of this type and I had a blast. Something that really inspired me was to see the different groups of riders from coming together to support charity and have a good time embracing the event as a community. The racers, the messangers, the weekend riders, the daily commuters, all riding together and having a great time. Everyone was welcomed because it was all about the community working together.

2. What have been some of the challenges you have faced in organizing the ride?

Preparing the logistics of the ride was an interesting one. Making sure that it was long enough to have plenty of stops and provide a fun challenge. Creating route maps and the shopping mainifest wasn't too bad, as I used the requested donation list from the Greater Pgh Community Food Bank. Contacting sponsors to provide donated prizes and services.

3. What about people who can't (for whatever reason) participate in an alleycat style race?

The traditional alleycat style ride can be a bit strenuous for an average rider, those events came about as way for messengers to test their speed and knowledge of local geography. As I was discussing my event with some of my friends, someone had mentioned she would love to participate but the course was too long for her to complete in the proposed time window. I also started thinking about some of my friends from the Flock Of Cycles rides whom would love to join the event as well but would probably not complete the longer ride either. so I added a second shorter route that could incorporate the paved riverfront biking trails as this would open the event to anyone whom wanted to participate.

4. How did you go about getting sponsors for “Pedal for the Pantry”?

I actually picked up the first sponsor on the drive back from Philly. Haha. Nick Drombosky of Fiks:Reflective drove us out to the Philly event and as I was formulating things on the ride back to pgh, I got my first sponsor. For the other sponsors I knew that I would need the support of good ending location, so I reached out through friends to contact the owners of Over The Bar Cafe. Also a few of the local bike shop owners (Bob @ Iron City Bikes and Chris @ Thick Bikes) and local cycling media (Brad @ Urban Velo). Next up was basically cold-calling companies, I generated an email with a description of the event and sent it out to bike equipment companies. The initial batch of emails generated a few replies, both supportive and declines. But I kept reaching out. As the event grew, I reached out thru more friends, and some people even came on board as I was posting fliers.

5. How long have you been cycling and why did you get started?

I've been riding most of my life, I'm on my second bike since I moved to pgh in '91. My first bike was stolen off my porch around '96, and I picked up my current bike in 2002. Having spent the last decade just riding around on my own, I attended some of the events of 2012 Pedal Pgh calendar. Next I started to attend group rides, meet new people, and become engaged in the local cycling community having fun the whole time.

6. Could you give people an overview of what to expect on the day of the event?

To have fun and enjoy the day. At registration riders will be provided the basic map and shopping lists. There is no set route, only listed destinations, so the actual routing is left open to the riders as they can choose their own way around the city and which order to visit the shops. Expect to have your knowledge of local geography tested to obtain the best route. The Post ride finish event is being held at OverTheBar Cafe, there will be event day specials to thank the riders, so everyone can relax while we tabulate the prize winners.

7. If someone wanted to help out, what could they do?

The best way to help would be to show up and go on one of the rides. There will also be a food bank donation collection stationed at OTB available to anyone who's feeling generous and would like to contribute. We're working with the food bank to have a representative onsite for handling financial contributions as well.

8. What has been the most surprising thing that has come out of planning this event?

The enthusiasm of the local cycling community has shown for this event and thier desire to participate and support has really picked up as the date draws closer. While there was a similar event a few years ago, there has not been one like this for a little while. Also hearing directly from people letting me know they are interested and ready for the ride keeps me going to make it a better event.

9. What are your goals in putting on this event?

I wanted to make a fun event that raises donations for the food bank and encourages people to hop on their bikes. The biggest success I could have would be a huge pile of donations and report of 100% safe riders.

10. What advice would you give to people who are just starting out with cycling?

Ride how your comfortable and have fun. There will always be someone faster and always be someone slower, so just do your best to enjoy the ride. Take a few chances on some group rides to find people you enjoy riding with. We're rather fortunate here in pgh as we have a variety of group rides that work for many different skill levels, groups ranging from full spandex carbon fiber riders over to the opposite end of the spectrum with jeans and sweatshirt casual Flock Of Cycles rides. Go out, say hello, and have some shared experience fun.

11. What advice would you give to people who want to organize a charity event like Pedal for the Pantry?

First I recommend attending one and talking to the people whom are directly involved. Ask them some questions about how and what they did, they may be willing to pass along their advice. Engage with the charity that your event will benefit, make sure that you are planning something that suits their needs, branding and message. When in doubt, pull a Picasso ... “Good artists copy, great artists steal”. (A very extended Special thanks to Gary and CJ at Cranksgiving Philly)

EDIT (3-27-13)
After I posted a link to this interview over at the Bike PGH Message Board one of the regulars on the board asked a question.

Brybot asked:
There is one question I wished you asked: Given that it is a race through an urban area, how will the laws of the road apply to the race? I typically feel uncomfortable running lights and signs. I imagine that would put me at pretty serious disadvantage in a race like this. I know it is for a good cause, but I tend to be competitive by nature.

I thought this was a good question and was going to ask Paul, but before I could ask him he saw it and answered the question on the message board.

Paul wrote:
I wanted the ride open to everyone, so that’s why I made a second route, Same event, two rides. (if I had a clue what I was really doing, I would have limited the heck out of this.) But since I am the eternal optimist, I added the “raffle” aspect, so that anyone who rides & contributes has a chance at the prizes. (my interaction with Flock of Cycles helped shape this portion of the event.)

Do not be discouraged that if you are not super fast that you have no chance at a prize, everyone is welcome, and everyone can earn a chance to take home goodies. 

I do not encourage breaking any laws while riding. While my event is modeled after an alleycat “race”, P4TP is not your typical alleycat race, it is a Cycling Event.

END EDIT (3-27-13)

All in all this is going to be a good ride for a great cause. I will be out there with team FatGuy (if I can get a team together)  Be sure to stop by and say hi, or better yet grab your bike and tennis shoes and join my team and do a little good while having a lot of fun. If you can’t make it to the ride head out to the grocery store and pick up some canned good and take them to OTB on Saturday April 6th around 4pm.

See you there.

Links in this post
Pedal for the Pantry
Flock Of Cycles
Over The Bar Cafe
Iron City Bikes
Thick Bikes
Urban Velo
Cranksgiving Philly

1 comment:

  1. I hope everyone enjoys the interview, and I wanted to add that the registration will be starting at 11am. As the number of participants grows, we want to make sure there is planty of time for everyone to sign up.