Events: Doylestown Bike Works Cranksgiving 2016 (and Why You Should Do It)
(2016) I often reminisce about the old days when I strode an old Kent BMX bike down the chipped and sealed roads in front of my house. The bike was a beast. I think it came from Jamesway stores. It had bar pads with a checkered flag cover that fit nicely into the enjoyable accompaniment with my dad every Saturday to the dirt modified shows in New Jersey. Those pads were not typically needed because of jumps, the bike weighed too much to get it off the ground. I would ride it down the front yard and onto the road. I then reminisce about where that fearlessness went. The bike too. I wonder where it wound up. I’m sure it’s mangled in some landfill somewhere. Or its chrome plated steel frame is still straight as the day it was sold, resisting any sort of crushage.
At about the same time in my life, my dad introduced me to a folk singer who raised money for impoverished places on earth. Harry Chapin led a life of constant movement. Each concert had proceeds going somewhere to help the less fortunate. His songs still appeal to me today, but a lesser-known track has always been one that resonates across decades.
When we stepped out of the cassette world and into the compact disc era, one of the holiday gifts given was a certificate to a now-shuddered CD store in town. My purchase would be a two-disc set of Harry Chapin’s greatest hits. Most of his famous songs were on there; I was proud of the purchase and my ability to sing along to his songs.
Curiously there were some speaking tracks on both discs. As if it were yesterday I still remember a track called simply, Thanksgiving Hunger Drives. There was little pause from the previous track and Mr. Chapin’s thoughts were spoken immediately. Therefore it was hard to skip past it if I wasn’t paying attention. The track is only thirty-some seconds long and only he speaking. He suggests this approach:
“Thanksgiving. Remember junior high school, high school, elementary school, everybody bringing in cans for the hungry people? Remember that? Just imagine, if somebody, when you were in fifth, sixth grade, if the principle had the gonads to say on Monday: 'Children, it was the most single, wonderful outpouring of generosity that this school has ever seen. More cans of food feeding a hundred and ninety-three families came to this school than ever before. We only have one problem and we’re gonna deal with it this coming week. We’re gonna cancel our regular classes and what we’re gonna talk about is: what are those people gonna eat next week?’ Now doesn’t that sound like a sensible educational system that dealt with those kind of questions?”
The first time I shared a listen with my dad was during a commute to soccer practice. When the track ended my dad responded casually, “Yes it does, Harry.”
Last year was my first foray into Doylestown Bike Works’ Cranksgiving. The ride is a free event that is a celebration of giving. The peloton snakes around Doylestown, PA before being unleashed in the surrounding countryside. Following the course markers will lead to three grocery store stops. The first is the farthest point followed by two more stores within Doylestown proper. A list of preferred items is given out so cyclists can easily point themselves and their slippery shoes into the correct aisle. Moreover, volunteers stand outside to watch bikes and wait for the donations to add up. Each year the bins get larger. Each year’s overall goal weight goes up, too.
What’s even more enjoyable is the community that turns out to support an event that tries to feed more and more families each year. I think Harry Chapin would be proud of the efforts of the employees at Doylestown Bike Works. With local shops getting involved in the overall totals of donations, perhaps Harry Chapin’s quote searching for answers about next week won’t seem so rhetorical. It would be a proud moment to affirm to any inquisitive person as to how the pantries got that way, I’d simply say, “Thank the local cyclists.”
Doylestown Bike Works Cranksgiving takes places this Sunday, November 13, at 9:00am. Riders are instructed to meet at 375 West Court Street for the start. Although online registration is closed, same-day participation is welcome. All one has to do is sign a waiver and bring purchasing power.