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The 2013 Israel Ride – A First Timer’s Perspective

By Jonathan Miller

A First-Timer’s Israel Ride Primer

The 2013 Israel Ride represents a series of firsts that my wife Beth and I will experience.

Jonathan Miller

Besides this being our first Israel Ride, it will be the first time we have rode in an organized event together – not to mention the fact that we will be traveling to Israel to do so. It will be Beth’s first trip to Israel and it will be my first trip since 1976. This will also be the first time that we have undertaken a personal fundraising effort of this magnitude.

Having the ride on our calendar is also an incredible motivator. We both love to ride our bicycles. The cycling season in Colorado is relatively short and becomes limited by weather, family and business schedule considerations. However, with plane tickets and passports in hand, care for our kids arranged and numerous announcements being made via social media about our involvement, preparing for the ride is our number one priority for the summer.

Beth and I learned about the ride via our involvement with our local Hazon organization here in the Denver/Boulder community. Beth has close family members in Jerusalem, so the mission of Arava Institute in terms of building bridges between Arabs and Jews by working together to solve the region’s environmental challenges makes a strong connection for both of us.

We are devoting almost as much energy to the fundraising component as we are to our physical training. Besides the tools afforded by our personal fundraising page, we are relying heavily on social media to promote our endeavors.

Beth and I both have a sizable Facebook audience to draw upon. Not that we are so popular and well-known, we have simply been active on the site for a very long time. Since the day we signed-up for the ride, we have been making subtle posts about our involvement.

Using our Map My Ride account (mapmyride.com), whenever Beth and I head out on a training ride or a hike, the app automatically posts our activity along with a note about our Israel Ride mission. Map My Ride also posts training updates to my Twitter account (@jonnypositive).

Does this activity correlate directly to contributions to our cause? Maybe not directly, but cumulatively everything helps. The point is for our audience to see that we are committed and feel compelled to support us because they see our passion for the project.

Most recently, I have been videotaping segments of our rides using a Go Pro Hero3 camera mounted to my handlebars. Fortunately, Beth won the camera (a $300 value) last month from Vail Resorts for being a “hero” to one of her meeting and event planning clients. We’ll be getting some incredible use out of the camera in Israel, but in the meantime I am posting our ride videos on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/Millercycling) and then posting the links to the new videos on Facebook. I have been adding little gadgets to the videos as I go along such as including a link to our fundraising site on every video. We have been getting tremendous feedback on the videos from friends and family. In fact, over the past week we brought in our first four donations just from our social media activity.

Being part of the Israel Ride has already started to have a profound effect on our lives. We are meeting new and special people associated with the ride every day. We are reconnecting with our friends and family via our fundraising activity. We are building our endurance and preparing our bodies for our incredible ride in Israel. We are helping to build awareness and raise funds for Hazon and Arava Institute.

We are looking forward to continuing this journey and sharing the wonderful times that lie ahead.