President's Page - March 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018

I hope that this finds you all enjoying the pleasures of your wheeled, human powered conveyances, regardless of the number of wheels; regardless whether you are leaning forward, sitting upright, or sitting back; regardless of whether you are wearing spandex or a tee shirt and jeans.

Planning for Special Events and for the Back Roads Century are well underway. By the time you read this, the weather should be warmer and the ride schedule will lose its winter doldrums and blossom into its usual, glorious fullness.

All this leads me to this month’s theme: volunteerism. In this issue of the Pedal Patter and on our website, you'll find different reasons to volunteer and opportunities to do so.

Many years ago, John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” I did not know what that really meant in 1961 when it was uttered. (In my defense, I was only five.) I started living by it without really understanding where the drive came from. In the 1980’s, I first started volunteering for my professional society while stationed in New York City. That volunteerism continues through well into this century.

Once I joined the Potomac Pedalers, it was not long before I started to lead rides and then served on the ExCom and then served as Chairman. I continue to lead rides and help the ExCom and Chairman right through volunteering for another term as the leader of the Club a bit over a year ago. I have used the term “give back” and it is phrase many of you have heard not just in the Club, but in other areas. What does it mean and what did our new president mean when he uttered these words fifty-seven (57) years ago?

To me it means that we are stronger when we all pull together. The great rides and events that we have are better because of the selfless members who help stage these rides and events. Where would we be without the ride leaders who look for interesting rides on safe roads? Where would we be without the ride leaders who sometimes end up cutting their rides short to help someone with a mechanical or someone who just does not have it that day? We would be riding by ourselves or riding on the same routes day after day.

Where would we be without the volunteers who organize the various special events the Club sponsors? Where would we be without the numerous volunteers who help run the best century in the country? These events would not be the outstanding showcases for cycling that they are. Your dues would be much higher. We would not have the opportunity to meet cyclist with the same passions we have who may ride at a different pace or usually in a different area.

The members who volunteer for the Club make the Club stronger. They give back to the other members of the Club. Have you volunteered lately? Google the definition of “volunteer” and it will state that it is a “person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task,” a person who works for an organization without being paid.” As a verb, it is to “freely offer to do something.” I submit that this is not the correct term for those who give their time to the Club for they are getting paid. They are receiving benefit. They are receiving the benefits stated above.

What I believe that President Kennedy was implying was that serving; giving back, volunteering was a duty every American owed to their country. It is our duty as members to make our organization better than it would be without us. We are all busy. Most have jobs. Many have families and/or significant others. Many are members of organizations other than Potomac Pedalers. But all can find a few hours in the 8,766 hours in a year to help make our Club better. By stepping up you will be helping your fellow members who have traditionally offered many more hours to the Club and keep responding in the affirmative when asked to give more.

There are many tasks which need to be done. Whether you offer a few hours or a day or a few hours a month, you help your Club. You help your fellow members. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our Volunteer Page and Contact Us and we'll get you going. Also, read our special Call for Volunteers for the Back Roads Century - the BRC benefits so many people and cyclists and we need YOU to help make it happen. For an inspiring account of volunteering at the BRC, read Catherine Kitchell's article

And if you don’t think that you can spare a few hours of your time, look up the Google Definition of “freeloader,” because you are taking advantage of your friend’s and other member’s generosity and not doing your duty.

Thank you and keep the rubber side down.

Bob Bernstein

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