Reader Story: ‘Pay it Forward Ride’ brightens holiday for a family in need

Hammer Velo team members at the recent Pay it Forward ride.
(Photo courtesy Drew Coleman)

[The article below was submitted by Sellwood reside Drew Coleman.]

When the weather outside is frightful, I find it difficult to find the desire to clip into my pedals and ride. This time of year I feel like I’m getting ready to ski, not train on my bike. The one thing that helps me overcome the winter weather is the company of teammates and friends. I mean, what’s better than a long team ride with some special guests? How about a long team ride that involves delivering gobs of gifts to a needy family in Portland? That is precisely what my team’s Pay-It-Forward ride is all about. For the third year in a row, Hammer Velo and guests from other teams gathered together for a charity ride which benefits a Portland family in need this Christmas season.

“We dodged debris from the previous night’s storm, powered through puddles and potholes and pedaled on… The youngsters in the family greeted us with looks of disbelief. I can only imagine the spectacle of all of these crazy cyclists in the mind of a small child.”

For the past three years, in cooperation with Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital, Hammer Velo Team Director, Jeff Tedder and his contact at the hospital, Cindy Barshay, identify a family in need and then funds are raised to help provide the family with a great Christmas. Through word of mouth, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association community, the generosity of Hammer Velo riders, other teams we train with and through our sponsors (such as Solid Core Training, Portland PACE and Breakside Brewery) over $1,000 was raised to buy gifts for this year’s family. Presents include things ranging from toys to clothes to the things families need on a day-to-day basis.Tedder and his daughter Kalli spend a day shopping for the family and wrapping the gifts.

This year, on Monday, December 17th, 14 riders from various points in the city met up at a rally point just off I-205. In the parking lot, amidst curious looks from folks going to and from their cars, riders stuffed packs and panniers and a Burley trailer full of gifts. Bikes were decorated with blinking string lights and flashing glow lights; stockings and jingle bells hung from handle bars and seats. One bike, with sound system hooked up, played traditional Christmas music to keep the group in good spirits on the ride. As per tradition, the group voted on the best bike decorations and the winner received a new pair of road tires as a reward. The holiday spirit extended to the outfits of the riders as well. Santa hats covered helmets and garish holiday sweaters covered the rain jackets.

We left the parking lot en masse. Traffic was particularly accommodating and allowed us plenty of room on the busy roads. Spinning joy throughout the upper reaches of NE Portland, the group broke into impromptu carols. Cars honked at the sight of a pace line of blinking, glowing riders; pedestrians hooted and broke into wide grins as they were greeted with Christmas cheer and bell rings. We dodged debris from the previous night’s storm, powered through puddles and potholes and pedaled on. Managing to get lost for a very short period of time, we eventually found our way. With freezing fingers and toes we pulled up to our destination. The youngsters in the family greeted us with looks of disbelief. I can only imagine the spectacle of all of these crazy cyclists in the mind of a small child. The awe gave way to smiles and thank-yous as gifts appeared from the bags and were spread out on the floor. Cookies were passed around and quickly gobbled up.

We didn’t stay long. We had a return ride ahead of us and the family had gifts to sort through. Team Santa, Jeff Tedder, called out for us to regroup:

    Now Bianchi! Now, Campy! Now, Shimano and Burley!
    On, CAAD9! On, Cross Bikes! On Road Bikes and Surley!
    To the top of PDX! Mount up, back to the mall!
    Now shift away! Crank away! Spin away all!

Warmed as only doing a charitable act can do, we all rode and sang our way back to our rally point for some post-ride food and spirits. I’m already looking forward to Pay-It-Forward IV . . . hopefully you will join us next year!

Thanks for sharing your story Drew. If anyone else has something to share (it doesn’t have to be Christmas related) and would like us to consider it for publication on the Front Page, please submit it via our online form. — Jonathan.

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9 years ago

Pure awesomeness. Way to go!

Kristi Finney-Dunn
Kristi Finney-Dunn
9 years ago

Very inspiring and uplifting, Drew. And it is especially meaningful to me as a mother who spent many, many nights with my youngest son at Doernbecher in the past. I can just imagine how warm and loved this family felt at the generosity of your group.

9 years ago

Hat-tip! Great job!

9 years ago

this act of kindness and thotfulness epitomizes what christmas is