December 21, 2015
If you are a regular over at the Slowtwitch Forums, then you've probably seen me on there going by the screen name "Canadian". I am on there most days answering customer questions and occasionally answering a triathlon question.
I logged in today and noticed a post from my account that was rather rude. I quickly recognized that I did not write this and immediately changed my password. After further investigation, I recognized that someone had created a fake account using the screen name "CanadIan". They copied my pictures, my signature, and all of my other account details.
I've since written Dan (Slowman) and he has deleted the account. If I indirectly offended anyone, I apologize, but it wasn't me.
Here's a screenshot of the fake account (notice the number of posts and the registration date)...
Here's the real me...
Sorry for any confusion.
December 15, 2015
On weekend mornings in Las Vegas, you can usually find me cycling Highway 159 from the west side of town to the intersection of Highway 160. This out-and-back bike ride covers about 30 miles, heading straight through the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. With its incredible scenery, wide shoulders and excellent blend of terrain, this ride is the perfect way to start my weekend.
You don't have to fly to Las Vegas to find a great place to cycle, but biking in a new area is a fine experience for any cyclist. If you've been riding for awhile, your local trail or route might feel a little stale over time. Traveling to a new area can spice up your routine and renew your appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors.
When choosing a riding destination, here are some things to consider.
The most enjoyable part of riding in a new environment is taking in the unfamiliar scenery. With so many beautiful places across America, driving by in a car often isn't enough. Take your bike to popular local trails to see something you wouldn't be able to see at home.
If you live in a flat coastal area such as Florida, traveling to an area like Boulder, Colorado gives you the chance to tackle tougher terrain. If you already live in a hilly area, travel to flatter ground to get more mileage from your rides without the rigors of mountain climbing.
When I travel, I look up friends, business partners or even local cycling groups. Riding with someone from a new area is a great way to get the inside scoop on the best places to ride and how to stay safe while you're on the trail. The next time you take your bike to a new area, don't be a stranger.
What makes you want to ride in one area rather than another? Riding to beat a previous time on a familiar course can start to feel unfulfilling if you don't shake it up now and then. When you go somewhere new, give yourself new goals to achieve—such as riding a certain distance to a scenic view.
Perhaps you've spent the past few weeks trapped in a New England winter—spinning your wheels on an indoor trainer and thinking wistfully about getting back on the road. The environment makes a big difference when selecting a new spot to ride. If you're stuck inside, head to a warmer climate. If you live on the plains, head to higher elevation for a greater challenge.
6. Local Shops
I've never met a cyclist who didn't like to eat and look at shiny new bikes. If you ride in a new area, check out the locale's popular restaurants to fuel up after your ride, and once you're full, spend some time drooling over your next bike. You might even make a new friend for tomorrow's ride.
All of that said, here are some of my favorite places to ride.
1. Pacific Coast Highway
If you want to see America from north to south, this is a great way to do it. Stretching from Canada to Mexico, this trail takes about 40 days to complete, but you don't have to do it all at once. This helpful guide provides more information on traveling the PCH.
2. Garden of the Gods
If you don't have a month to spend on the PCH, try something a little shorter in Colorado Springs. This area has three trails, ranging from 2.5 to 5.2 miles, bringing cyclists near beautiful landmarks like Gateway Rock.
3. Florida Legacy Trail
Located in Sarasota County and winding through Oscar Scherer State Park, this trail is a great southeast destination for cyclists who want to escape the bustle of the city while enjoying unique nature and wildlife.
Cyclists willing to head north of the border can enjoy the beautiful trails of Nova Scotia. If you like a little zest with your travel, you can even take a winery tour on your bike. Travelers willing to dig a little deeper can enjoy some beautiful areas off the beaten path as well.
5. Hawaii IRONMAN Course: Captain Cook Loop
If you crave a challenge and are willing to cross an ocean to get it, look no further. This 100+-mile ride offers beautiful, exotic scenery and all the distance and terrain you need to test your limits.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please leave your comments and questions below!
December 8, 2015
When you start your own charity, you envision the massive impact your efforts will have on the world.
It’s easy to get caught up in your mission and forget about the people actually donating money and helping your program run—after all, you feel passionately about this, so why wouldn’t they?
Running a charity takes more than passion and a common goal. To date, my brother and I have operated two charitable organizations. One failed badly, but the other continues to succeed, thanks to the lessons we learned from the first.
Here is our “Tale of Two Charities.”
Our first charity, Painting with Purpose, sold digital copies of paintings created by children with special needs. The idea was solid. We took a portion of the proceeds from each sale and donated that money to the charity each child represented. We then took another portion to create a sweepstakes program. People got unique artistic works, donated to charity in the process and gave themselves the chance to win cash prizes up to one million dollars.
Sounds like a great deal, but the whole operation came crashing down.
After the failure of Painting with Purpose, we retooled our approach and came up with Bike for a Kid, which is part of our current business. Through Bike for a Kid, we donate a portion of the proceeds from our primary business to buy bicycles and helmets for kids in need. It’s still a charity, and we’re still the ones running it, but it’s become vastly more successful than Painting with Purpose was.
So, what makes one charity succeed while another fails? After being on both sides, my brother and I learned five integral lessons about how to keep a charity from going under:
1. Earn credibility.
When we started Painting with Purpose, we thought other charities would love to partner with us. We even had meetings with other organizations asking them to spread our message through easy mediums (a mention in a newsletter, a small link on a website, et cetera).
Surprisingly, other charities were hesitant to endorse us. They didn’t want to risk their reputations by vouching for us without knowing if we would live up to our word. You can’t rely on others to spread your message in the beginning. Until you do something that shows you are trustworthy, people won’t trust you.
2. Simplify your message.
Painting with Purpose was more than a new charity; it was an entirely new concept. We thought mixing charitable giving with cash prizes would incentivize people to give, but we discovered that our novel approach actually confused our audience.
If you want to try something different, you need to establish credibility first. People are willing to give a new business a try (and even a new idea), but not both at the same time.
3. Find the right partners.
At Painting with Purpose, we tried to do most of the work ourselves. At Bike for a Kid, we decided we needed help with the day-to-day operations, so we sought a partner. Because our primary business kept us busy, we didn’t have the time and energy to dedicate to the basic operations that make good charities successful.
Unfortunately, some of our first partners did not organize the best events, which harmed our image and put a bad spin on the charity’s purpose. We quickly learned the value of a great partner and eventually found one who boosted both the image of our charity and the effectiveness of our mission.
4. Understand that giving isn’t easy.
Don’t slack off on standard precautions because you assume people naturally respect charities.
At one of Bike for a Kid’s events, we purchased 75 bikes to donate. By mistake, our supplier sent us 150, virtually doubling the amount of stock we brought to the school where we were holding the giveaway. When the event ended, we realized attendees had stolen 50 of the extra bikes.
The incident upset us both greatly, but we learned a valuable lesson: Even in the spirit of giving, you must be cautious.
5. Generate donations without asking directly.
People can donate to Bike for a Kid either by purchasing wheels from our shop (after which we donate some of the proceeds), or by giving a donation directly.
To date, we have donated roughly a thousand bicycles and discovered that around 98 percent of those donated funds came from wheel sales. People are willing to give their hard-earned money to a good cause, but to incentivize them further, you have to give away some of your own money as well.
As you start your own charitable organization, follow your passion and these tips. Running a successful charity takes a lot of work, determination and patience, but if you do it right, you can make amazing things happen.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. Please leave your comments and questions below!