By Victor Cordero, Velo Paso
Friday morning, January 16, 32° F (FREEZING!), 5:30 AM wakeup call, up and at ‘em!
Warmth & excitement flowed through my veins as we prepared for El Paso’s 2nd bike tour for Reading event, in which almost 30 riders participated. Most of the riders were local, plus we had some spectacular out of town guests, including action sports writer and photographer Devon Balet from Montrose, Colorado, and professional mountain bike racers Katie Holden from Seattle, WA, and Dejay Birtch of Tucson, AZ.
Ride for Reading provides a way for donated books to be delivered to low-income elementary schools BY BICYCLE–promoting a healthy, safe, vibrant activity as well as literacy. Local cyclists are recruited for the deliveries and books are donated locally and by Better World Books through the Ride for Reading program. According to the Handbook of Early Literacy Research, the ratio of books per child in low-income neighborhoods is one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Ride for Reading is working to change that.
The weather was a beautiful 50° and sunny by the time we arrived at Douglas elementary at 9 am. “This year we delivered 1400 books by bike to Douglass Elementary School in south El Paso,” Don Baumgardt, our local Ride for Reading organizer, member of Borderland Mountain Bike Association and founder of www.GeoBetty.com stated.
Half the books were donated by Better World Books, a national non-profit that regularly supplies books to Ride for Reading events. The other half of the books came from the El Paso-based non-profit Books are Gems, whose mission is to get free books in the hands of the children of El Paso. In addition to the books, each student received a certificate for one new and five used books from Books are Gems.
Each child receiving a book promised to pay attention in class, listen to their teachers, and to be respectful! All students pledged: “I promise to read my book twice. I will never ever throw my book away. I will pass it on to a friend, family member, neighbor, classmate or someone else I know. And I promise to be the best student for the rest of the year.”
The Borderland Mountain Bike Association organized the ride to kick off the weekend festivities for the Puzzler Mountain bike race that was held on January 18. Over 225 riders participated in the race with a 15-mile route, a 35-mile loop and a grueling 50-mile course with over 6,000 feet of vertical climb on some of the toughest single track in the state.
Photos courtesy of Victor Cordero.