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Pedal America aims to make a difference. To have your charitable event posted on our site, go to our charitable cycling events page to make an informal request.

Safe Routes To School

Pedal America supports Safe Routes To School. Click here to learn if you live in a Safe Routes neighborhood. Let us know at comments@pedalamerica.tv so we can list you on the website and maybe give your neighborhood an on-air shout-out.

Pedal America Jersey

pedal america voler jacket
 Purchase your own Pedal America-Voler cycling jersey made right here in the U.S.A. Ride with pride! 

Pedal America donates a percentage of its net proceeds to the League of American Bicyclists. The nonprofit organization works to ensure that federal budgets include dedicated funds for bicycle pathways. So get your jersey and then " Get out there and Pedal America!"
Ira David’s Pedal America Blog
Giving Thanks, By Bicycle PDF Print

Brenda Barrie Pedals From Kenya To Tanzania

One of the greatest rewards I’ve gained from producing Pedal America is observing the abundance of selflessness exhibited by many on my team. Producer Susan Banach rescues abused dogs across state lines while Videographer Andrew Friend defends teachers’ rights. As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m thankful to be surrounded by individuals who find within themselves the ability to give so much, including Pedal America’s Season Two co-host, Brenda Barrie, who has really raised the top bar on what it means to give.

Pedal America: What led you to pedal from Kenya to Tanzania?

BB: The inspiration came at a time when I was looking to give on a larger scale. A friend who has been volunteering with International Childcare Trust (ICT) these past 4 years inspired me with her many stories of generosity, passion and courage. She started as participant and fell in love with the mission of ICT and later became a board member.

ICT partners with local organizations in East Africa and Asia that are already making an impact with their own initiatives, and helps them grow into strong, sustainable organizations that can continue to make meaningful and lasting changes in the lives of children. ICT fosters long-term relationships based on common vision and goals, and mutual responsibility and commitment, as opposed to simply a funding relationship.

I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and learn more about the world we live in.  It seems the benefits you gain from immersing yourself in another culture affect your very own community. On a larger scale, war and racism are very real in our world and seem to stem from fear. It's much more difficult to be afraid and discriminate when you have understanding and empathy.

PA: Before the ride, what did you expect from traveling by bicycle in Africa?

BB: I imagined that the most difficult and rewarding part of “Cycle Kenya to Tanzania” would come from the cycling itself.  It was preparing for the physical challenge of cycling 255 miles that I thought would be both painful and fun.  I dreamed of arriving triumphantly at the Shalom Centre, our final destination and the project our efforts were supporting. 

Somehow, though the cycling was some of the best I’ll never forget, it was almost secondary.  The months of preparing for this huge undertaking provided ample gifts and insights. And even when I finally made it to Africa, every day we awoke in our tent and set off to explore unchartered territory, we met people who would leave a huge imprint on my heart and mind. 

An unexpected gift from this undertaking has been feeling so much support myself. I was grateful and honored for each and every way friends, family, strangers and my community showed support.

I thought the event was 10 days in Africa. The abundance of gifts and lessons learned included the months of preparation and even now, as I continue to share the journey after the fact. 

My research, training, fundraising taught me things beyond measure.  Some of the unexpected gifts include when my co-worker gave me toe-clips for my bike for training, a friend sent a quick note, or a stranger makes a donation. It's was when I met Tigist Reda, owner of an African restaurant who moved to the U.S. when she was 17, and who graciously offered to host a dinner at her restaurant to help raise funds. And maybe it started when a dear friend turned to me this last spring and said, “You can do it. I’ll be your first sponsor.” And she was. Truly, I didn’t realize in supporting this cause that, in turn, I would feel so much support.

One unexpected gift was a message shared with me:

“In 2005 I spent 10 days with my niece in a village in Chad, where she was a Peace Corps volunteer. What I remember the most was her enormous efforts to do good - to teach, raise money to dig wells, etc. She was often not successful, but it was her being there, trying so hard to help that most moved the people in that village. It truly is the "being there" that matters most. It was an amazing adventure that changed me in many positive ways. I wish that for you and much more . . ."

Months later I keep thinking of his niece and how lovely that he was able to see her work first hand. I’m learning how my friends and family are a part of this with me. I read his message at the Chicago Botanic Garden, a place of great inspiration for me as I discovered the North Branch Trail for training, and this message doubled its power. His niece's efforts are still sending mighty ripples in the universe.

PA: What was your biggest fear and how did you to conquer it?

BB: I struggled with my decision of whether or not to stay committed to this event after attack on the Nairobi Westgate Mall Sept 21st, three weeks before we were set to fly into Nairobi. From day one this journey has been beautiful and exciting, and the support of friends and family has been tremendously inspiring. However, in light of the attack on the Nairobi Westgate Mall, I honed in on all the negative news reports about the treats of terrorism.  I became educated on the turmoil in Somalia pretty quickly. The U.S. Department of State even issued a Travel Warning to U.S. citizens regarding the risks of travel to Kenya because of this turmoil. According the warning issued, the U.S. government received information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya.

We were set to ride our bikes from Nairobi through rural areas eventually reaching Arusha, Tanzania This included camping along the way and I doubt always in secure locations. I couldn’t help but to feel fearful and vulnerable riding our bikes on less travelled, unprotected roads. Friends and family also expressed concern.  If I watched the news in Chicago all the time, I would be afraid to leave my home.

After sitting with this decision for some time, and feeling the paralyzing effects of fear, I decided I would not let terrorism win. I would overcome this fear.  The momentum and positive energy behind these past several months of immersing myself in this process opened my heart and mind in ways I wasn’t expecting. I felt prepared and committed to my decision to follow through with this ride and show my support to the people of Kenya.

PA: What surprised you most while bicycling in Africa?

BB: That I cycled every bit of the 255 miles from Nairobi, Kenya to the Amboseli National Park and then around the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, completing the journey in Arusha, Tanzania where we met the children of the Shalom Centre supported by our efforts and on behalf of the International Childcare Trust (ICT).   This experience gave me a deeper appreciation for this beautiful world we share.  The final day in Tanzania, I met the children of the Shalom Centre supported by our efforts. I shared nearly through tears how my friends and family helped me get here and give to them directly.

What a gift this has been - five full days of cycling and camping in Africa, meeting people of the community and experiencing the culture first hand, seeing how they make use of the land and welcome people into their country - I am having difficulty finding words to describe the depth of my appreciation.
Needless to say, I wanted to take in every single moment. I wanted to witness and experience every second. The roads were winding and sometimes very tough, some of the hardest cycling I’ve ever done. The 255 miles by bike was challenging, for sure, but the best part was interacting with this continent of lovely people.

Sharing this journey with fellow riders from Ireland, England, Switzerland, France and Italy was a special treat.  I know have more friends around the world.

Visiting the Shalom Centre, finally arriving at this moment after months of hard work, seeing their gratitude and need, and feeling the intense support that our friends and family were with us on this day, was all overwhelmingly beautiful.  I’ve never had to work so hard to contain such intense waves of joy and pain.

PA: Talk about the gear and protective clothing you traveled with.

BB: Endurance and hydration were very important, as we covered an average of 6o miles a day and the terrain varied daily.  I brought two 2 liter water bottles (that I was highly encouraged to drink and finish every 15k or so), and several snacks such as nuts, sports bars and electrolyte tablets for my water.  I also slathered on sunscreen and bug repellent daily.  I discovered you can purchase clothing already treated with insecticide, or buy a spray to treat your clothes in advance and it will last up until 25 washes.

Otherwise I tried to pack is minimally as possible. I brought a few pairs of bike shorts/shirts, my clip-in shoes/pedals, my own saddle, gloves and of course my helmet.  I also let go of my negatives views towards hip sacks and found one very helpful. :) 

I was required to take out special traveler’s insurance for the trip, which included a helicopter lift out of mountain if necessary. This was both funny to me and gave me peace of mind when I learned upon purchasing said insurance that it was less than $50! 

PA: What were the roads like?

BB: The roads varied daily.  A significant portion of our ride was on sandy/rocky terrain. The few times were cycled clean paved roads I started to get bored.  Apparently I grew to love the challenges of sandy/rocky terrain. It was as if the skills of navigating the moment-to-moment challenges distracted you from the long journey ahead.

Working towards Mount Kilamanjaro was surreal and wonderful! The terrain and constant incline promised to be a very challenging day. As the day toiled on, it became very difficult and emotional. Some great riders decided to sit out portions of the ride that day. The sun, the wind, the incline were all pushing us to our limits.  There were moments where I almost broke. I thought of how many people got me here and kept finding ways to get to the next resting place. I sang “Jambo Bwana” at the top of my lungs. And at the hardest point, when I didn’t have the energy to even reflect or sing, a lovely man from Kenya simply said “pole-pole” (pronounced po - lay po - lay) which means slow and steady, be easy on yourself. I shed a few tears of pain and joy and made my way across the border of Tanzania.

PA: Did you travel with your own bike?

I was thankful the Ashante Tour Guides provided the bikes for the trip.  The mountain bikes were very helpful and seemed to handle the terrain very well.  I was surprised by how much I appreciated the suspension and fat tires!  When we pulled into the next camp each day, our crew serviced our bikes checking for flat tires and giving them a good cleaning. 

PA: How will bicycling in Africa help you to reflect on "giving thanks" November 28, 2013?

BB: I’m learning about the world and inquisitive in ways I hadn’t been before. One powerful thing I’ve learned is that people want to be engaged and be a part of a community. People are willing to be a part of creative solutions that involve bringing people together. It’s amazing what feats can be done when a single person is ignited and committed to making the world a better place. A single person can ignite a community.

If a Pedal America fan wants to tour Africa on a bicycle, what advice can you offer?

BB: Go with an open heart and an open mind! You will see and experience so much; the universe wants you to experience its beauty. The incredible journey by bike encourages you to be very present and grateful in the moment.  It will be a gift (to you for sure, but to all those you encounter and to everyone you share your story).

Also, wave hello to the wonderful people as you ride by, and do your best to learn some of the language.  Learning the local language will go a long way in showing appreciation and respect.  You will be met with kindness and understanding.  Also learn a phrase that says “I’m learning” and maybe share something about yourself and what you’ve enjoyed in getting to know their culture.  Enjoy the opportunity to be a student. 

I love this quote from Ernest Hemingway:
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

How will Brenda Barrie spend Thanksgiving this year?

BB: I have so much to be grateful for – this journey has been an eye opener to see the present moment as a gift. I am so thankful for the people in my life, including friends and family, mentors and people who serve as guides, whether they know it or not.  This Thanksgiving I will be sure to share in the joy of community and include others who may not feel a part of one.  We share this incredible world and I am more aware of my role in it.

What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn. ~African proverb

Vist Brenda’s official travelogue to view multiple pictures and video.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

 
Thanks For The Lesson! A Remembrance PDF Print

In 2006, Harriett Snel positioned herself on the seat as Joe the bike shop owner steadied the bicycle. As he held the back of the seat, she started pedaling. Wobbling her way down an empty Tampa, Florida parking lot, Joe slowly jogged next to her while clutching the seat to steady the bike upright. Alan Snel of the Southwest Florida Bicycle Dealers Association also jogged alongside to cheer on his favorite girl.

Like all young kids learning to ride, Harriet begged Joe not to let go. Joe promised he wouldn’t. But like all adults teaching kids to ride, he did let go a few times. Joe winked at Alan as they continued jogging together alongside the bike, “Don’t worry Harriet, I’m holding the seat at all times.”

A month later Alan bought Harriet her first bike, a white single-speed two-wheeler. “It was time for her to knowingly ride that bicycle under her own power and without anyone jogging next to her,” Alan said. “She agreed.”

Harriet hopped on, pushed on the pedal, and off she rolled down the quiet street in front of her home. She felt the warm Florida air rushing against her face as her curly hair extending below her bike helmet flopped around in the wind.

Alan noticed that signature big smile of anyone riding solo for the first time. “She was so proud and happyI laughed and started taking photos as if I was the proud parent. ‘Boy oh boy oh boy,’ mom said after her first solo bike ride. That was amazing!’”  

On August 16th, 2013, Harriet passed away at a hospice in Boca Raton. She was 71. Thank you Harriet Snel for teaching that we can all feel the joy of that first solo ride – at any age.  

 

 
Don’t Let Bike Racks Wrack Your Brain PDF Print

I just returned from a short trip to Hot Springs, AR. I take lots of road trips. For me, it’s a continual lifestyle of hauling bikes on the Pedal America production vehicle that holds a total of six bikes. Our rear hitch-mounted rack holds up to four bikes; the individual roof racks hold two. If I earned $1 for each time someone on my crew racked or unracked a bike, I’d have probably have enough to fund production of two consecutive seasons…okay, well, maybe not that much.

Still, choosing the right rack system is easy when you know the options. The most common are trunk, rear hitch, or roof racks.

Though more common on sedans, many trunk racks are designed to fit SUV’s too. They’re convenient, cost effective, and easily adapt to different car models. But if not careful, your car’s paint could sustain a scratch or two from the bike that’s sits closest to the trunk or from the hooks that latch onto the trunk.

For Pedal America, rear racks are ideal. At about shoulder level so bikes are easy to load and unload for most everyone; plus, more space between the bikes and rear of the car protects the paint.  User Manuals don’t explain other benefits. We use ours as a clothesline, a bike stand, and a plastic garbage bag holder. The only inconvenience is accessing the back of the SUV’s rear hatch door while the bikes are racked. Most racks swing down, but you really need to unrack the bikes first. If you don’t want the inconvenience, Yakima makes a rack that swings outward, making access easier.

Roof racks are also practical, and sturdier than I could have imagined. When the Pedal America production crew drove back to Chicago after shooting in Napa Valley, we hit a blizzard in Wyoming. Winds gusted to 70 mile per hour. Highway patrol shut down the Interstate; it took us three hours to travel about 6 miles. The bikes up top stood solidly in place.

Of course, hoisting a bike onto a roof rack can be challenging until you grow used to it. Plus, low-ceiling garages can ruin your day - and your garage – and your bikes - if you forget they’re up there. On the flipside, I once stopped short of pulling into a low-ceiling garage at a Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, and realized, “Hey, there are no bikes on the roof.” It happens when you get so used to being conscious of them.

The other downside: I concur with the Cool Biking Zone blog that roof racks significantly cut your car’s gas mileage  - by almost half! That’s a wallet guzzler for us, given that we travel cross-country when in production. While we have to travel with our bikes, renting bikes at your travel destination can save you money on gas.

No matter what type of rack you prefer, always check and, if necessary, tighten the nuts and bolts before each road trip to ensure safety. Happy cycling, and please share the road.

Ira David


roof bicycle rack

rear hitch bicycle rack
 
Strengthening Communities: One Episode At A Time PDF Print
Two weeks ago when attending the Tampa Bike Bash with my producing team, Susan and Stephanie, I had the honor of touching base with Michelle Calonge, who appeared in our Tampa episode. She's the one who shared her story about being diagnosed with a fatal disease and how bicycling with the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club has helped to sustain health.  But it did more than that. It helped to rally a sense of community....And that is what makes it all worthwhile to me!
 
Knowing that Pedal America is making a difference in people's lives and that I'm educating millions in how recreational bicycling strengthens communities has made this TV series more than I could have ever imagined.
 
How do I do this? Simple! I share stories about how recreational bicycle travel has changed lives. Because when one life changes, others around that person also change.
 
I've always believed in the strength of people and the positive impact we can each have on our respective communities. 

Help me to bring more people’s stories and their communities to public television so I can continue to bring terrific travel ideas and helpful bicycle tips to the millions of Americans who seek inspiration.
 
My dad taught me something that I've always carried with me: That's it's okay to ask for help; and that the more you help others, the more help you receive in return.
 
Our Dec 16th deadline is fast approaching and I can really use your help! 

Please support and encourage others to support Pedal America today!
 
Cheers,
Ira David 

pedal america in napa
 
Ira David on MAP-21 -- The New Federal Transportation Bill PDF Print
The response to a new survey on our FB page indicates many viewers would like to see more news articles about cycling. We can certainly do that, as the Pedal America team does more than just produce television and attend events to meet with our fans. 

Behind the scenes, I do spend time advocating for improved bike lanes and infrastructure so that when you go out to ride, you have a safe place to do it. Each March I attend the National Bicycle Summit in Wash., D.C. to learn from advocates and visit with members of Congress to ensure they work to commit federal funds for more bicycle infrastructure.  One of the most important developments this year is the federal transportation bill MAP-21 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.  The law basically gives more power to the states for deciding how to spend your tax dollars for transportation, including bicycle infrastructure and programs.  I won’t weigh you down with details here. If you want to learn more on your own, click here, visit the League of American Bicyclists or talk to your local bicycle club leaders or bike shop. 

In front of the camera I tend to steer clear of politics because that's not what Pedal America is about. We showcase cycling as fun, attainable, and a great way to enjoy the great outdoors with your friends and family.  I do try to tell the stories of what makes communities and tourism destinations more bicycle-friendly. I feel it’s an important component to our story telling so you can learn the safest and most interesting places to enjoy when planning that next trip -- even if you have no intention of riding bikes at all.  Yep, not all of our fans ride and that’s fine with me!

Just know that Pedal America is more than just a TV show. We care about travel, we love our bikes, and part of that passion means exercising a little political muscle during our down time to ensure fun, safe places for y'all to enjoy!  

Did I say that right, "Youall?" "Yall?" Hmm, check our Savannah episode. 

Ira David

will in savannah

Speaking of down-time activity, here our Sound Mixer, Wil Masisak, takes time for his daily dose of Espresso between shooting scenes in Savannah.
 
Pedal America Joins Create® TV! PDF Print

Producing a new television series takes a tremendous effort and watching our viewers respond with questions and ideas makes the effort all worthwhile. The series is about you, the viewer. It’s about educating, entertaining, and treating you to new places and ways of exploring your own backyards.

I’m thrilled to share that starting August 15th even more viewers can enjoy Pedal America®. Please let your friends and family members know that their local PBS Create® TV stations will broadcast the series on Wednesday and Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. (EST) with re-broadcasts on Wednesday afternoons. Check local listings.

Continue to send us your ideas and comments and we’ll do our best to give you shout-outs on our show, website, and Facebook pages.

Visit our booth space at these up-coming events:

RAGBRAI; Souix City, Iowa (July 21)
Providence Bridge Pedal; Portland, Oregon (August 12)
MS 150 Ride; New Bern, North Carolina (September 8-9)
Bicycle Bash; Tampa, Florida (November 4)

Signed With Helmet Love,
Ira David

pedal america event photo 

Here are just a few of Pedal America's team members who help to bring you the best programing possible. We'll continue to keep working on your behalf. Visit us at events to "hi" and win one of these fantastic Subaru-Pedal America jerseys.

 
Alive and Well! PDF Print

A huge "thank you" to those who wrote in this week asking if Pedal America had been canceled. I'm trilled to report that the series is alive and well!

June is typically "pledge drive" month for many PBS and Public TV stations. During this time, many stations interrupt regular programming. Check local listings each week and soon enough you will see Pedal America back in the schedule, picked up from where it left off – you won't miss a single episode.

In fact, we have 86% of Public TV's total household reach, including PBS Create. Tonight, Friday, we begin to broadcast on WNYE-TV, Ch 25, at 8:30 p.m. and on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

As a treat, here are a few behind-the-scenes pics from Season One. Enjoy!

--Ira David

pedal america st petersburg

pedal america st petersburg pedal st petersburg

The crew prepares our production bike for shooting along the Pinellas County Trail in St. Petersburg, FL while I'm off to the side enjoying lunch. Just kidding! I was actually warming up on my own bike after having thrown my back out the day before while lifting this very production bike onto the roof of our production vehicle. The steel production bike is fitted with at least 20 pounds of camera mounts and cameras.

pedal america st petersburg

In Napa Valley, our Director of Photography sets up a scene wearing our team mascot watermelon helmet. We took out all the pits so they would not stick to his hair.

pedal america st petersburg

In Sedona, our Videographer, Andrew Friend, expresses to our newest intern that it's not appropriate to sleep on the job.

 
Thank You to All Viewers! PDF Print
I'd like to thank all our viewers for a strong showing during our first two broadcast weeks. Lot's more wonderful episodes to come.

We proudly stand behind our efforts to both showcase and make cycling fun, accessible, safe, and attainable for all. But really, it's communities and people that make the big difference. We salute the bike community in Tampa, FL and the work they do to enhance bike safety and accessibility; and hope you enjoy our Tampa episode when it airs later in the series. Here's a link that looks at one of that region's issues.
 
 
Florida MS Riders Turn Out On Day 2 PDF Print

It doesn't take more than a little sun and two wheels to bring out the spirit of giving. After a soggy wash-out on Day 1 of the South Florida MS Ride, more than 400 riders showed up on Day 2 with full conviction for the cause. The sun beat down on the riders as they reached for bananas, instant oatmeal, bagel and orange wedges. Thanks to everybody who visited our Subaru of America booth! We had a blast meeting you.

Congrats to Michael Oosterman and Iliana for winning Subaru-Pedal America bike jerseys. Wear them in good health!


pedal america subaru

south florida ms ride booth

 
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