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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Riding for Themselves and Supporting Their Community

Submitted by the Wyoming Ohio Cycling Foundation
The Half Day Café Cycling Club’s motto is, “Ride on, Ride safe, Ride often, and Donate!” and they mean it. What began in 2004 as a group of friends meeting for neighborhood rides has become a recognized cycling club and nonprofit foundation. How did that happen? 

The Half Day Café Cycling Group enjoys their coffees from Half Day Café after their early morning ride.
Backpedaling to the Beginning
Original members David Montgomery and Pete Chronis recall the group began by riding the “Hills of Wyoming.” As their numbers expanded so did their routes, eventually running throughout Cincinnati and into Kentucky. If you have driven through Wyoming in the early morning hours, you have likely seen their bright jerseys as they gather at the corner of Springfield Pike and Wyoming Avenue. After a number of years of gathering outside the Half Day Café, with the blessing of its owner Dale Hipsley, the group named itself the Half Day Café Cycling Club. In 2013, members Jim Briggs, Clint Morley, and Scott Litwin formed the Wyoming Ohio Cycling Foundation (WOCF) to facilitate the fundraising efforts begun by the Club’s riders. Although it is by no means necessary to donate to participate in the regular rides, Larry Harte notes, the charitable aspect, “Sets the group apart from others that just ride.” 

Keeping Pace
The Club holds regular rides on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Anyone interested should show up at Half Day Café by 6:00 a.m. The rides typically last an hour so that all the riders are back in time for a quick cup of coffee. Longer rides are saved for the weekend. If you would like your name added to the current list of 85 riders receiving updates, send an email to slitwin@cinci.rr.com.

Half Day Café Cyclists not only share a ride and a coffee three times per week, but they share comradery all year long.
“Spokes” Persons of the Half Day Café Cycling Group
The riders are a diverse group. Some have been cycling for years; others are relatively new to the sport. Arch Cunningham appreciates the inclusiveness, remembering, “After a year of cancer treatment I was in no shape to ride fast. Everyone encouraged me, and someone would always stay back with me. I’ll always be grateful for that.” Like many of the members of the group, Clint Morley joined for the “camaraderie with a group … who shared my passion for cycling.” Alan Weinstein was “new to the area and looking for a local connection to a well-established riding community.” The group is comprised of individuals with varied riding levels across a broad age spectrum. They have instituted a “no drop” policy so no rider is left behind. Brad Shull believes it is this policy that brings new members back. Chris Bryan appreciates the set ride schedule. The group rides throughout the year although members with less tolerance for the cold wait for the temperature to rise. Jim Briggs notes, “We have folks who disappear for weeks, months even years at a time and find their way back.” 

Wyoming Ohio Cycling Foundation: Pedaling for Donations
In addition to regular rides, they hold two annual fundraising events, the Spring Classic and the 365 Challenge. Beginning its eighth year in May, the Spring Classic is a three-week long, staged event modeled on the Tour de France. Riders, who donate $108 to participate, are divided into four evenly-matched teams following the first day’s individual time trial. Riders earn points for each stage, which include hill climbs and team rides. Participation fees and sponsor donations are divided among the teams for their determination as to which charities will receive the funds with the winning team being given the largest portion of the proceeds to award. In 2017, the 28 participants raised a total of $6,889.40 donated to 12 charities. Anyone interested in participating in the Spring Classic can register online at the WOCF’s website, www.wyomingcycling.donordrive.com.
The 365 Challenge encourages the riders to donate based upon their miles ridden throughout the year. The WOCF presented a grant of over $11,000 to Valley Interfaith Community Resource Center from funds raised in 2017’s 365 Challenge. This donation was used to purchase canned goods and a commercial grade refrigerator/freezer that will allow the agency to store and offer fresh foods. David Taylor believes giving back helps create a mutually supportive environment for the cyclists and the communities they ride through. 

WOCF used their fundraising funds to install five bicycle stations around Wyoming, Lockland, and Newport that are available for free.
Ride SAFE
The WOCF promotes safety, which includes the proper maintenance of equipment. Through a grant from the Levin Family Foundation, the WOCF has purchased and installed five bicycle service stations in Wyoming and Loveland, Ohio, and Newport, Kentucky, at no cost to the communities. The stations provide a bicycle stand, an air pump, and various tools for repairing bicycles and changing tires.
The members of the Club see cycling as a way to exercise, meet and enjoy friends, and support their community. They hope to attract new members to keep the group going. The recognizable gear is another means by which they raise funds for charity, but no purchase is necessary, and no special gear required. All you need is a bicycle and a helmet.

Valley Interfaith Community Resource Center Thanks the Wyoming Cycling Foundation 
Wyoming Ohio Cycling Foundation presented a grant of over $11,000 to Valley Interfaith Community Resource Center. This grant was presented to assist in the expansion of pantry services to more efficiently meet the growing need of those in need.
“We are very humbled by this show of generosity. These funds have been used to purchase food for the holidays and to expand our refrigeration/freezer equipment to meet the needs of our food supply thereby enabling longer shelf life for our produce supply.” Commented John Keuffer, Executive Director
The Wyoming Ohio Cycling Foundation additionally provided $1,500 before Christmas to purchase bulk amounts of canned goods to help neighbors in need for the holiday and the organizations raised additional funds to purchase a commercial grade refrigerator/freezer unit for the agencies pantry service area. This unit allows the agency to store fresh produce in a contained environment that will prolong shelf life and reduce waste; thereby offering more fresh items to our clients.
“It is amazing to see this unit. I can’t believe there are such nice people who are so willing to help, so that my family and I can have food while we struggle through this time of our life,” stated Jimmy F, Valley Interfaith client.
Valley Interfaith Community Resource Center strives to empower our neighbors in need to create a life that is sustainable. For more information, please visit www.vicrc.org

WOCF provided a grant to Valley Interfaith Resource Center for over $11,000.  

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