The Season for Giving

The Season for Giving

For nearly two months, I’ve been at the front the group, drilling it. In our cycling metaphor, I’ve been in the big ring, turning a 53×15 with some terrific pulls by others. It’s worth noting, that I’m not a big guy, the one you turn to when banging out the miles if a sizable draft is the need. Put another way, this is not the job for which I was hired.

Such is the circumstance of an all-hands effort. I went to the front of our group and with or without help I’ve been determined to get our bunch back in the pack.

But I’ve been well-fed. You might say every guy in the group has given me a bottle, pulled a gel from their pockets and passed it my way.

In more concrete terms, the clothing distribution effort that began as a result of my post, A Request, has rained lycra and wool. The generosity of RKP readers is unlike anything I’ve ever personally been a part of. Long after I thought I must have supplied clothing to every home-lost rider in Santa Rosa, I continued to hear from members of our extended family who wanted nothing more than a kit or two. Similarly, long after I thought I couldn’t possible see the arrival of another box, more boxes showed up. Another four last week.

We’ve managed to organize the arrivals according to small and medium bibs vs. large and XL bibs. Same for jerseys. We separated bibs from shorts. Vests and jackets got a bin, as did long sleeve jerseys. There’s a box just for gloves. Women’s pieces got their own sort as well. We’ve even got a bin just for warmers, though it’s the first to empty following a new arrival. Somehow, I still have two boxes just for socks.

I confess that I never took a formal inventory; I was too focused on uniting the arrivals with the riders in need. That said, by my rough estimation, I’ve given out about 1.5 times what you see here. Roughly 50 riders have come through. Not all the tears shed were theirs. The stock has rotated enough that I’ve had some riders come back a second time to fill holes in their needs that I couldn’t meet weeks ago.

There are plenty of reports in the local paper of people gaming charities, FEMA, retailers for deals and giveaways. Because everyone I’ve met has come through a personal referral, I have a high-degree of confidence that every piece I’ve given out has been to someone truly in need. In each case, I’ve heard the story of their escape.

From an emotional standpoint, I don’t ever want to be this close to a disaster again. The aggregation of these stories has given me a cinematic vision of the movement of the fire out of Tubbs Lane, across the county, through Mark West, Fountaingrove, the embers blowing across the 101, fire leaping from one home to another in Coffey Park, flame running downhill on the south side of Fountaingrove, toward my home, and then walls of orange moving through some of the most storied vineyards in Napa County as spears of heat raced through Kenwood and north into Trione-Annadel State Park. I can recite timelines the way a conductor knows a train’s schedule.

The reality is I’ve devoted the sort of time to this that one might put into a part-time job. I’d have made more working for REI or NorCal Bike Sport, and it wouldn’t have been a fraction as demanding, or fulfilling.

Based on the fall-off in appointments for this week, I anticipate I’m nearing the end of my pulls. It’ll be time for me to drift to the back and let the group go.

Once I’m satisfied that I’ve reached everyone I can, I will need to make arrangements for the rest of this clothing to find homes. But I need to be transparent in how I do this.

In talking with a couple of friends, my favorite idea is to do this in two steps. First, we go through the inventory and pull all the items of appropriate sizes to teenage boys and girls and split it between two NICA teams in the NorCal Leage: Annadel Composite (often referred to as the A Team) and a new team in Windsor that will be coached by the very first recipient of the clothing that arrived.

Following that, I want to hold a rummage sale of sorts and sell all of the remaining items. With your approval, I’d like to take that money and put it toward buying used mountain bikes for those two teams. The A Team lost four of their bikes in the fires and all of their clothing. Thanks to one reader, I’ll be presenting team members with a used mountain bike later this week.

I like this course of action, but only if all of you who have been so generous give me your leave. I need buy-in, so please comment.

No matter what your religious or secular bent, we like to say this is a season for giving. What you have done for my community is a kindness that won’t be forgotten. Not ever.

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    1. Author

      Thanks for all your support. That was a huge box you sent. It’s as if there’s a chapter of the Mellow Motors team here in Santa Rosa now.

  1. Dizzy

    Patrick, first I must say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” You analyzed a situation in the community, designed a plan, consulted w/your team (that would be us readers and the RKP staff), and are amidst executing the plan. Not as well written as your cycling analogy (you’re the king of prose), but you get my drift.

    With the initial phase completed, you’re now re-evaluating how to best serve both the team and the community via the abundance of the response. With that, you’re suggested plan looks like a sound conclusion to the project.

    Team: Now that Patrick has brought us within a few KM of the Red Kite, let’s take our pulls by letting him know our thoughts on the plan. By doing so, we can deliver Patrick to the 500 meter marker with the confidence he needs and let him hit the line for the win. Yes, none of us will “podium” but I’m sure he’ll credit us in the post-race interview and treat us all at the celebration dinner with his continued, excellent prose!

  2. Dave King

    Incredible work to make this happen so quickly and so well. I’d like to think the people receiving these donations are able to enjoy a little bit of their day by getting out on the bike in the midst of rebuilding their homes and their lives.

    Is it too late to donate some new and some lightly used clothing? There’s even some winter gear that’s timely.


    1. Author

      Thanks for your kind words. There’s still a need for jackets, warmers and long-finger gloves. And should items like those continue to arrive, I can hold them for folks I know who still have a need.

  3. Dylan

    Great work putting this together and spearheading the effort. I also have a few pieces of clothing I would be able to donate if you are looking for more options towards the XL end of the spectrum. I like your proposal for extra clothing but had an additional thought. Could clothing that doesn’t sell/won’t fit a high school rider be passed along to cyclist affected by the newest rounds of fires?

    1. Author

      I’ve followed the Thomas fire, especially as it has crossed roads I’ve ridden and have friends who were evacuated for a day or two. I’m glad to note that I haven’t seen a single report of a friend or even a friend of a friend losing their home to the fires. I figure that there has to be a cyclist who has lost their home, but I haven’t crossed paths with that news. As a result, I don’t know of anyone to marshal that effort, though if I run across something, I’d be more than happy to put together a box to send down for someone. We should all keep our eyes peeled.

  4. Emil Gercke

    Thanks for taking this pull. It really seems to me that your satisfaction is a testament to your incredible character.
    I trust you to do whatever is right with the donations.

  5. Bill Webster

    Padraig, delighted to have been given the chance to share some kit with those in need; and now delighted to say ‘yes!’ to your plan.

  6. Mark Ritz

    Padraig, I am glad you gave me the opportunity to help. Speaking with the gentleman at your house who had lost everything yet had such an incredible outlook, gave my heart a huge lift after driving through the incredible devastation north of you. I believe that your plan is perfect. All the best to you and yours this holiday season.

    1. Author

      Thanks so much Mark. You and Bell deserve an extra shout-out for all that you gave. One of the very first guys to stop by is a friend with an orange BMC and he was beyond stoked with your Kinetic Koffee jersey because of all the orange in it. I still have some helmets looking for noggins, but that may get solved tomorrow when I take that mountain bike in the background to a meeting of members of the A Team.

  7. Jack

    That’s a wonderful plan. I’m glad I, along with my LBS, was able to participate and will be looking forward to your follow-up.

  8. Seano

    Padraig – thanks for doing this… we all know the amount of time this has taken. I’m fully on-board with distributing leftovers to NICA kids and rummage sale to convert further unused clothes to mountain bikes for the kids.

    I’m just sorry I don’t live closer to assist – you really did take over for what would typically be my job.

  9. Steve Schubauer

    Padraig- Thanks for posting the pic, somehow gratifying to see that my arrived, if a bit late! Please do proceed with whatever plan that benefits the local community the best. Good to hear that some young riders can use some of my stuff, makes me wish I had more to give. Always a pleasure sir, look forward to running into you again at the Spring rides.

  10. Tominalbany

    Sadly, I never got any stuff out as my stuff was pretty beat up. I use it up, typically.
    I like your suggestion, though.

  11. miles archer

    how about sending the leftovers down south to Santa Barbara? There must be some riders caught up in the fires down there.

    1. Author

      The issue is who to send it to. I can’t very well spend $1000 on shipping all this to the PO in Ventura marked, “general delivery.” I’ve inquired with friends to see if they know anyone in need. If they find someone, I’ve asked them to get sizes and I’ll box some stuff up.

  12. Bob Read

    Padraig – maybe check with Dave Lettieri in SB? He’s been posting photos on Facebook and is quite concerned about the fires.

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