President's Page - February 2020

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Happy February, Pedalers!
I’m here to deliver a message of love to all of you this month, and not just because it’s Valentine’s Day soon (“hey Siri, set a reminder to buy some chocolate for my spouse…”). I spent a lot of time this past month talking with our members at our ExCom happy hour, coming together to celebrate the lives of dearly departed PPTC members, and celebrating our amazing volunteers this past weekend at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Event. I am so grateful that so many PPTC members came out to not just share a drink and a story, but to share the club’s history and their views on the future of Potomac Pedalers.
Our happy hour at Caboose Tavern in Vienna ended up being a harmonic balance between productive and social, with several members joining us to discuss current challenges we face in entrenching ourself in the 21st century forms of communication and administration. Everyone who came out brought some great ideas that the ExCom is exploring further. We also had a toast to Bob Sheldon, a long-time PPTC member who passed away last month. Several current members attended his memorial service and the club honored him at our events with a toast, which seemed fitting for Bob. Everyone who spoke of him all shared one sentiment, that he had an abundance of love and joy of life. May we all be so lucky to be remembered in that light.
We had a wonderful turnout at our Volunteer Appreciation Event. I am so grateful that previously as VP of Special Events and now President, I am able to spoil our members with a formal invitation event, with dinner and beverages on us. I was able to see so many familiar faces, and finally meet with some incredible people I have heard so much about over the years. It was also my great honor to present four awards to incredibly deserving volunteers this year. It’s always a joyful burden to have to read through SO many nominations for our awards, and debate the merits of each with the Executive Committee, because many of you have done and continue to do so much for our club. The criteria I set for the ExCom in our discussion for awarding the recipients were as follows:
  1. The person providing the nomination must include a reason for the nominee’s deserving of the award (and trust me, there were MANY good ones)
  2. The award winner received multiple nominations of this degree (again, there were MANY)
  3. Thinking about the winners in the context of the PPTC as we see it- did the volunteer embrace the spirit of the club’s past to act through the present, and inspire the future?
And the four winners had, did, and do, exactly that…
Jeff Mankie won the Peter LeGrand Good Shepherd Award for Ride Leader of the Year. He was nominated by several of his bi-weekly riders, for always being a welcoming leader to familiar faces and new riders. He won because of the compelling reasons that he is an exemplar of group riding safety, and has helped de-escalate situations involving aggressive motorists this past year. Thank you, Jeff, for your continued leadership of the Mason Neck and Lorton Springfield Sunday rides!
Butch Counts and Deb Reynolds won the award for hosting the Best Original Ride. Their work, along with Doug Lesar and Tom Fedewa to put the Shenandoah weekend back on the calendar with revamped rides, activities, and venues for the weekend truly made their event Special. We’re looking forward to this year’s Shenandoah weekend in July!
Beth Merricks was awarded the Neal D. Molloy Volunteer of the Year award, for her stalwart leadership of our messaging committee. Many of you may not realize what an important job our messaging committee has, as our club’s liaison between the public and members of PPTC and the ExCom. I would be reduced to a pile of ash without their hard work to field and relay the hundreds of questions and comments we receive and be able to respond with clarity and precision. I heard from many of the messaging committee members about how hard Beth works to create the volunteer schedule, and to pick up orphaned shifts on the calendar. A well-deserved recipient of this award honoring a special person from PPTC!
And last but certainly not least, Deb Reynolds was awarded the Linda Tischer Lifetime Award for literally EVERYTHING she has done and still does for PPTC. I’ll share a few snippets of one of the MANY nominations she received this year, being mine…
All you need to do is look at the past several years of PPTC's existence. It wouldn't have been possible without Deb stepping onto the ExCom to right the ship, and to keep it as steady as possible over the years. She has selflessly poured countless hours into her position as VP of Operations as well as leading special events, volunteering for everything the club does, and leading local and women's-specific rides… and keeping everything in line to ensure the club stays afloat. She has been a great source of inspiration to me, especially in showing me what it means to lead this club by example. Deb has done all of this, without any search for recognition, and through some extremely personally tough times in the past year. Through all of this she always put others first, making sure that PPTC stayed on course, and ensured the ability for others to ride safely and happily with the club before she could even consider riding again herself. Deb is also the only person in the entire PPTC organization who is allowed to call or text me at any hour of the day. And in case you want to test this theory, please also see above: Beth Merricks’ award of Volunteer of the Year.
Congratulations again to all of our award recipients, and a huge THANK YOU to the many PPTC volunteers who help us keep doing what we love to do, and bolstering the amazing community we have established for many years. All of them truly understand the spirit of leading by example, and may we all be inspired by their passion for cycling and PPTC to grow the love of our cycling club throughout our communities.
Be safe, ride well, and see you at another social event in Maryland this month!

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