Yossi (pictured) and I got married last summer, so training for the Ride didn’t make it to our pre-wedding to-do list. But we each had family and friends participating as riders, so we didn’t want to miss out on the experience. At the last minute we signed up as crew, not really sure what it would be like. We knew and appreciated the crew members who staffed our rest stops when we rode together the year before. They made us sandwiches, pointed us to the bathroom, and told us which snacks were the good ones. They cheered for us and encouraged us and reminded us that we were riding for an important cause with their full support.
But what no one really tells you is that the crew members are actually having a lot of fun doing all of those things and even more that riders don’t get to see. There are cowbells to ring and whistles to blow, big vans to drive and spray paint to mark the turns, and there are maps, walkie-talkies, reflective vests, and team colors for each crew team. The Hazon staff made sure we had all the information and support we needed to do our jobs well, and they encouraged us to really have fun with it.
The first day, my crew teammate and I rode in a huge 15-passenger van behind the last rider on one of the routes. Try looking inconspicuous to a bike rider when you’re driving 8 miles an hour behind them in an enormous van! We had a blast. We stopped at every rest stop and hung out with riders, encouraging the ones who were riding at the back of the pack and needed the extra enthusiasm to get them through. We really got to see the whole route through a different perspective, since we could enjoy the scenery and take it in slowly while cruising in our enormous black van behind the riders. And did I mention I had the best teammate ever? My mom!
I wasn’t really sure who else would be on the crew, and it turned out there are whole variety of reasons people choose to be on crew. Some are riders who tried something different that year. Some come to support spouses, siblings, children, or other family and friends who are riding. Some are new to Hazon or to riding and want to get a taste for the event without committing to all the training and fundraising involved in riding. And some have no interest in riding but want to contribute to an amazing program and to the wonderful work that Hazon and its partners do year round. It really is a special group with a place for everyone who wants to give it a try. All it takes is a big smile on your face and the sense that you are participating in something much larger than any one person’s contribution. Who knew that cheering for other people’s accomplishments could be so rewarding personally?
So if you’re thinking about coming to the Ride this year but aren’t quite sure how to get involved, I highly recommend going for crew. It’s a whole lot of fun and a great way to contribute both to the Ride and to Hazon’s year-round work. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll leave fulfilled and energized and proud to have participated.
Do you want to join us on Crew this year at the New York Ride? Register today at the low rate of $180 registration fee / $180 fundraising minimum – it’s one of the best deals on a weekend at Isabella Freedman that you’ll ever get! Crew prices are going up on August 15th.
Maddy is a 2-time NY Ride Rider and a 1-time NY Ride Crew member who enjoys the great outdoors and thinks the guy in the pea pod suit is pretty cute. She works as an Associate Producer of educational software for Scholastic and lives in New York.