The Motion Initiative

Last Tuesday night I attended my second rebuild night with The Motion Initiative – Holland. The Motion Initiative (TMI) is a non-profit ministry with a vision to impact “under-resourced urban youth [through] a decent bicycle and a healthy sense of adventure, freedom, and hope” through cycling. Launched out of the original Grand Rapids ministry, the Holland ministry is starting its second year, and things are really starting to take shape. Led by local bike enthusiast, Brad Spooner, the ministry is rapidly gaining traction in its mission to connect with kids.

To accomplish its mission, TMI coordinates periodic bike rides (both road and mountain) for urban youth, teaches kids bicycle repair alongside adult volunteers, provides an opportunity for under-resourced youth to obtain a bike through its Earn-a-Bike program, and operates a mobile bike shop to visit neighborhoods with parts, tools, and bikes for the group rides. The Grand Rapids ministry operates all of this out of their bike shop located in the Black Hills neighborhood on Godfrey where they offer a safe place for kids to hang out, provide an opportunity for kids to work to earn Bike Bucks (for the Earn-a-Bike program), and receive the donated bikes that are refurbished and sold to support their efforts. I’ve included a video that they put together:

 

The Holland ministry has been operating out of its mobile bike shop trailers and borrowed shop space offered by Frontier Solutions near Zeeland. The long-term goal is to secure a permanent location in an urban neighborhood in Holland. In the meantime, TMI-Holland is rolling with its rebuild nights, mobile workshop events, and group rides throughout the summer in 2012.

Rebuild nights are an important part of TMI. To help fund the various expenses of bike parts, tools, and equipment, TMI accepts donated bikes that are then sold for a fair price to generate revenue. Bikes that are donated to the ministry are often in ill-repair and need to be refurbished to make them safe for someone to ride. Most common repairs include new tires and tubes, new pedals, chain lubing, and brake repair. Only once a bike has been refurbished and deemed safe and functional will it be offered for sale to the general public.

Support for this new ministry in Holland has been great. Rebuild nights are well attended by both novice and expert volunteer bike mechanics (I very much fall into the former category). Financial sponsors have been a huge help in obtaining the trailers, equipment, and tools for the mobile workshops and rebuild nights. Funding has also been provided for the purchase of a small fleet of bikes so that the group ride ministry can launch this summer. People have been donating unused bikes for TMI to refurbish and resell as well.

All in all, I’m looking forward to being a part of TMI-Holland this year and expect to participate in more rebuild nights and help organize the group rides. If I can help even one kid enjoy a bike the way I enjoy bikes, I will consider the year a success. If I can connect with one kid and show him the Love of God it will be a success that’s immeasurable.

Visit The Motion Initiative on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/mibike and their website at: http://unitedinchristgr.com/?page_id=113

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Making Hay

 

As disappointed as I have been with this inconsistent winter, when a day like today rolls around and drops 6-8” (and reports of 10” in some places) of fresh new snow I wasn’t going to waste it. I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking here, but it was an awesome day.

I started the morning out by heading on my bike after church. I may have jumped the gun a little bit, but I couldn’t help myself. The fresh snow was just too inviting to take a peaceful ride in (no earphones). What I found out was that the snow was deeper than I had anticipated and the workout was significantly more vigorous as a result. I still was smiling (for the most part) as I slipped, grunted, and plowed my way out to Lake Macatwa near the Ottawa Beach overflow campground (picture). I wound my way back home on some lower traffic roads just to get off the bike path for a breather.

In the afternoon I took Paige over to my in-law’s house to go snowshoeing with my mother-in-law. Their subdivision is only about 1/3rd developed and one of the lots is adjacent to the Port Sheldon Natural Area which is part of the Ottawa County Parks and Open Space Lands. It’s a great place to snowshoe, hike, and cross country ski (http://www.co.ottawa.mi.us/ParksVI/Parks/portsheldon.htm ). It is one of the few parks left that you can take your dogs to and let them roam freely. There were several people out enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and snow.

Finally, when you get snow like today, you can’t avoid the drive way. So, I wrapped up with a quick clearing and headed in for a warm shower and a cup of coffee. What a great day.

Where’d It Go?

I should have known that as soon as I put on the music, Avery was going to want to dance. My 3 year old doesn’t understand that I still have work to do…check my Facebook updates, review my blog stats, and read new entries of the bloggers I follow. But, how many times am I going to be able to dance with my 3 year old (she’ll soon be 4). I decided to oblige and enjoy time I know I’ll remember when I’m old(er).

Because I like dance music (some call it techno), I have a solid stable of driving beats to listen to. Sam LaMore’s remix of PNAU’s ‘The Truth’ is one of those productions and provides for a great dance beat that the kids love. So when Avery picked up what I was throwin’ down on the iPod player, she was all about tearin’ up the den.

Just to put it out there, I’ve been known to cut a rug or two in my time. Not that my style is conventional, but it seems to work with whatever music is playing, and I can always take my turn in the center of the dance circle (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about). I have been the center of the pre-party, party down, and after-party with my dancing. Until tonight, that is. To my horror, I realized while dancing with my 3 year old that I had lost my dance.

What in the world happened? When did my revolutionary dance moves turn into running in place? No, I’m not talking about ‘running man’….I know better than to teach her that. But my moves weren’t any good at all. I know this because I confirmed it in the reflection in the TV (it’s a fantastic subtle maneuver to monitor the situation without letting everyone else know you’re watching yourself dance). I tried to go a little low-profile with it to see if I just needed to warm up. When that didn’t work I tried reversing course by hopping and jumping around to see if I could bounce myself back into the groove. That didn’t work either. And, the most disturbing part about all this is that Avery thought it was cool and started mimicking my moves. I decided it was best if I just stop right there.

I remember my wedding night and having so much fun singing and dancing with my friends, siblings, cousins, parents, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents. All of us exhibited good rhythm as we danced the night away to DJ Dan’s superb skills on the tables. But, I do remember thinking about some (not to point any one [generation] out) that the dance moves were a bit dated. When does this happen? Why didn’t someone tell me this before it happened? I would have squeezed in a couple of last club nights if I would have known.

Whenever and for whatever reason it happens, it happened. But, while I could resign to the head bounce and knee wiggle from here on out, I’m going to be happy that the kids love to dance with me, yet. I’m going to practice (in the basement). And I will refuse to be a wall flower. After all, age is in the heart and mind, right? Dance, baby, dance.

Winter Run (and Walk)

Tonight I thought I would just quick get out and do a run/walk. It’s been over a month since I’ve run last and didn’t want to get too ambitious. The last few times that I’ve ran I’ve struggled with a tight leg muscle so I wanted to start slow. I don’t like running and really only do it for the efficiency of the work-out and cross-training, so I didn’t want to push myself and then pay for it for the next 4 days. I don’t mind being sore, but when it interferes with my biking….

I have a pretty standard 1.9 mile route that gives me just enough of a work out to get the heart rate up for 15-20 minutes. Tonight, though, I decided to start out walking the first portion of that route to warm up and then jogged over to Howard which runs along Lake Macatawa’s lakeshore and on down to Dunton Park. The route is primarily an asphalt side walk so I can stay off the street.

I love running/walking through Dunton Park at night, especially in the winter because of its location right on Lake Macatawa. Tonight did not disappoint me. Dunton Pak is a 21 acre park with a nice hunk of lake frontage. The park has been developed over the years with gazebos for picnics, playgrounds, open fields to run around in, and wooden walkways right next to the water, which is frozen this time of year. In the summer the park offers a boat launch that is always busy with fishermen and families launching their vessels for the day. My kids only care about the playground and usually beg me to bike with them there anytime it’s above 45 degrees. The park is well lit at night making the trail easy to navigate. Running through the park is also fun because of all the stairs, switchbacks, ascending, and descending paths that wind you through the wooded habitat right next to the water. The added complications of snow and ice take out the monotony of running for me as well.

I noticed something cool again tonight that I had forgotten because it’s been since last winter that I’ve run through the park. Across the lake from the park is a heavy industrial metal recycling facility that lights up the sky and is filled with bright white steam from work going on. I found it to be a stark contrast to where I was standing. Where I was standing, amongst the trees, God’s hands had created. Across the lake, busy and large, man’s hands had created. Both were awe-inspiring to me. Some people might look at that contrast and say ‘what a shame’ that we have wasted the natural landscape for our machines. But I appreciate the balance between conserving natural spaces and being industrious with our hands. It reminds me that we need peacefulness, through playing in these parks, to help offset the disturbance of our work.

So, without my headphones on tonight, I enjoyed a quiet, refreshing breath of crisp winter air. It brought peace to a non-peaceful day and hopefully relaxing rest to my sleep.

Riding With Purpose

When Scott Vanderstelt found out that his dad had Parkinson’s disease in 2010, he reacted as many others do, thinking: “What can I do to help and support my dad?”  Although Scott is not a professional fundraiser, his determination led him to explore every option to help raise awareness and money for Parkinson’s research, and finally led him to mix his passion for cycling with local nonprofit Van Andel Institute (VAI).

Scott is the captain of Team Troll, a group of cyclists who are raising awareness and money for Parkinson’s research at Van Andel Institute.  Team Troll originated several years ago when a group of friends went smelt dipping and trout fishing at the Mackinac Bridge. Some locals dubbed the group trolls because they spent so much time under the bridge. Until 2010, Team Troll was a group of people that had a common interest in hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors. When Scott found out that his dad had Parkinson’s, he saw an opportunity to take the team’s focus in a more serious and purposeful direction.

According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Parkinson’s disease (PD) affects 1 out of every 100 people in the world over the age of 60. This equates to about 1 million people in the U.S and 5 million people worldwide. While it mostly affects people over 60, people have been diagnosed as young as 18. The most commonly recognized symptoms of PD are resting tremor, slowness of movement, balance problems, and rigidity. This chronic degenerative neurological disorder is very difficult to diagnose because there are no known biological markers that indicate the disease is present. The exact cause of PD is unknown and treating PD is limited only to symptomatic relief. There is no cure.

And that’s what Scott wants to help change through Team Troll. As more and more research is being done, more is being learned about what PD actually is, what genetic and/or environmental factors might raise the risk of acquiring PD, and how to treat it or eliminate it. Van Andel Institute is quickly becoming a globally recognized research facility and already working on PD research, so the partnership was a natural fit for Team Troll. VAI also recently recruited Dr. Patrik Brundin, an internationally renowned expert in the field of Parkinson’s.

Team Troll is biking to raise awareness, which Scott hopes will translate into dollars being donated to VAI for their research. The 2012 team currently is comprised of 10 cycling enthusiasts of varying skill and experience who will ride at various events and races throughout 2012. By attending these events, they will promote their fundraising effort for research at VAI. They will also be securing corporate sponsors to help offset the cost of their cycling jerseys (the personal billboards used to market their campaign) and entry fees to the various events. Through a gift from GoPro, a point of view video camera manufacturer, Scott will also be video documenting his season to help share his story beyond the bike track.

You can help, too. Keep up with what Team Troll is doing through facebook (www.facebook.com/TeamTroll) or follow them on twitter (@TeamTroll1). They also have a page on VAI’s website for people to donate directly to PD research:  http://www.vai.org/News/Events/2012/Team-Troll-for-Parkinsons.aspx.  Learn more about VAI at www.vai.org.

Sledding!!!

Tonight the girls and I met up with one of the small groups from our church at  Camp Geneva (Pines) for some sledding. I never would have thought of Camp Geneva for sledding, but they convert the hill that their zip line launch station sits on into a really fun, lit sledding hill. Our group reserved the area at a very low rate for grounds usage ($2.00 per person) which included the use of a small lodge area complete with gas fireplace and restrooms. It was really nice for a quick break and warm-up before heading back out for some more sledding. The hill is both thrilling and manageable for smaller kids. I’m definitely going to be checking this option out for sledding with a private group of friends.

Saturday Morning CalCycling Ride

O.K., it was really, REALLY cold this morning. I mean freeze-the-snot-IN-your-nose cold. I noted 16 degrees on my Subaru’s thermometer just before we started. It may have been one of the first times I finished and was worried that I did real damage to my toes from frostbite. I’m going to have to address that, but maybe later.

Al Northouse graciously invited me out to ride with him and his buddies a couple of weeks ago for a Saturday morning ride. House painting projects did not allow me to take him up on the offer until this morning, but I couldn’t have picked a better ride to join them on (besides the previously mentioned chilly temperature). We met in Caledonia just before 8, which at this time of year means just as the sun rises, and were greeted to a bright, clear, sunny day. Sunrise and sunset rides are really difficult to beat when it comes to satisfaction and enjoyment of the great outdoors.

The group, as I came to find out afterwards, refers to themselves as the CalCycling Group. CalCycling is short for Caledonia Cycling (just in case you didn’t make the connection based on where we started). We rode with 10 of us today, but the group is claim to over 70 members on FaceBook. A number of the riders get together for weekly night rides as well and is known as the Tuesday Night Ride (TDR) group (can you guess which night they ride?).

I love the fact that there are all these riding groups around West Michigan. Without much digging, between local riding groups and bike shop rides you can find a group ride just about any day or night of the week. Through these groups, I’ve met a whole bunch of really fun people that I would otherwise never run across. The more groups I ride with, the more I find how and through whom different groups are also connected. It’s an awesome web of enthusiasts.

Today’s ride was a mixture of old railroad bed, country gravel roads, and (thanks to Al) some snowmobile trails. We’ve been hit with a few inches of snow over the past few days, so the railroad beds were both challenging and a riot. About 3-6 inches of snow meant those of us on traditional mountain bikes (there were two Fat Tire Bikes with us this morning) got a good core workout just trying to keep our bikes upright. We weren’t always successful. I’m pretty sure that the post I hit moved out in front of me just as I was passing it, too.

The snowmobile trails…well….they were a bit of work 🙂 It was a combination of fresh snowmobile packed snow; deeper snow tufts left by the gap between a snowmobile’s ski and track; and plow ruts from the farmland the trails are built on under the snow. In our defense of choosing (or maybe agreeing to) this trail route, we thought the snowmobile trail across some open field was going to be a short-cut back to our cars. After an hour and a half into our ride, a short-cut to warmth sounded fantastic. There was a small amount of good hearted ribbing after we completed that section, but I didn’t notice anyone without a smile on their face.

Afterwards we warmed up over coffee, a light snack, and bike conversation at Essential Bean Coffee. This all seems like a great habit to start. The other would be taking pictures so I can share them, but I was too busy enjoying the company to pull out the camera. Maybe next time.