Why do I volunteer for the Ride for Roswell? There are several reasons why: the comradery of working side by side with others for a common goal, regardless of the reasons why. For those I have lost and hoping that this makes the next fight a winning fight. For the children, who should not have to be part of this battle and those whose battle begins at such a young age, left behind with an ache a child should never know. The awesome feeling of helping and being a part of something so huge and impactful that is helping to stop the suffering of all whom it touches.
On Friday, standing on Carlton Street holding up that index card and feeling the love, the sadness and strength as we honor those in the hospital fighting their fight, remembering those who lost theirs and grateful for those who won. Then on Saturday, being at UB, being a part of a community not based on geographical proximity but a community with a passion for mankind and life, who all share one common thing, hope.
I will always be indebted to my sister who asked me to volunteer that first time several years ago. The feeling of amazement, energy and accomplishment, it’s addictive. I see all those emotions and feelings in the eyes of every new volunteer. As I reflect, I smile to myself thinking of when the riders have left on their routes and clean up is done and that first time, new volunteer says “Count me in for next year” and you know they are all in. They are hooked just like I was and still am.
Since my first year as a volunteer, I look forward to being part of this aw-inspiring event and I secretly hope that this is one of the last years, because that means that cancer will be no more. However, until then I will do what I can, where I can because every little bit helps make a difference.
If you don’t have a bike but still want to become a rider, we’re pleased to share that many of The Ride’s local bike shop partners offer rentals!
Click here for a full listing of our bike shop partners, and give them a ring or stop in to check on their rental availability.
If you can’t ride because you’re volunteering, out of town, working or have another commitment, you can still fundraise for The Ride by becoming a virtual rider!
Virtual riders receive all the benefits of ridership, including an event T-shirt, and breakfast and lunch on Ride Day. Virtual riders even receive a special acknowledgement on the Jumbotron at The Ride, and recognition from the main stage on Ride Day!
To become a virtual rider, choose “Virtual Rider” as your route when you register to ride.
The Ride For Roswell will be here before you know it and there are still hundreds of volunteer positions to be filled. We hope you will consider signing up, and asking your family, friends and colleagues to join you.
Click here to sign up to volunteer today!
There are many assignments for volunteers and there is sure to be one that fits your skills and schedule. Here are just a few of the openings:
Volunteers are needed at the start line at Roswell Park from 5 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 24 to check riders in and cheer them on. We’re also looking for parking and route guide assistance, especially volunteers who are familiar with downtown and can help direct riders from the Trico lot to check-in at RPCI.
Parking & Traffic
Riders, family and friends need courteous and knowledgeable parking and traffic direction. This volunteer assignment is vital to helping the event run on time. Shifts are available at UB North Campus Friday, June 23 during the Celebration of Hope and early Saturday morning.
Route guides are needed Saturday in three to five hour shifts, from early morning until early afternoon. You’ll direct riders at turns and intersections, watch out for rider safety, and cheer on participants. You can volunteer with a friend, and you may be able to be a route guide near your home.
The best ride is a safe ride, where riders stay together, communicate hazards, follow rules of the road, and arrive at the finish line with everyone intact! The Ride For Roswell is conducted on open roads where riders share the way with cars and vehicles. Only a very few brief lane closures are in place to aid traffic control, but all roads are open. It is easy to get the feeling that the cyclist is in a protected zone, because the start lines and lanes at UB are closed and traffic is tightly controlled by Amherst Police.
It is easy to feel like the right lane on JJ Audubon Parkway is for bikes only – but it’s not! This section of road, before you make your first big turn on Dodge Road, is the perfect place to start following safe cycling. Before Ride Day, review these safety tips with your family and team, and practice them on your Pre Ride training rides.
The Ride is a ride — not a timed or sanctioned race. High-traffic intersections along The Ride’s routes are managed by local fire police or by town, county or state police. In addition, volunteer Route Guides are located at many turns, intersections and gates. Their job is to cheer you on and give directions — they are NOT authorized to control vehicular traffic. For your safety, please maintain a comfortable rate of speed while complying with standard traffic laws and with the instructions that are given.
A “gate” is an intersection chosen to serve as a short cut for riders who do not “make the gate” by a certain time. If you are “late to the gate”, you must take the short cut in order to finish The Ride by a safe time.
Areas where routes converge are neutral zones, where it’s important to adjust speed to traffic congestion. Each route has gates that close at specific times, after which riders will be diverted to a shorter route for safety reasons. All routes starting at the University at Buffalo are round-trip loops, and the shortcuts are marked in large blue and white signs. Feel free to divert and take the shorter route if you become too tired to continue. You do not need special permission to divert to a shorter route.
Ride to the right unless passing a slower cyclist. Always pass on the left, never on the right. Call out “on your left!” and use your bell as you approach and pass.
Don’t ride more than two abreast. Traveling in groups of more than two riders side by side makes it difficult for both cars and other riders to pass safely.
Obey all traffic signals, devices and signs. Follow directions given by law enforcement and fire safety personnel, Route Guides, Riding Marshals and other Ride volunteers. Slow down in neutral zones where routes merge.
Use verbal commands and hand signals. Most bike accidents occur when two or more bikes collide, usually caused when one rider isn’t paying attention. Use loud and clear communication! Declare your intentions by using hand signals to alert drivers and riders when you turn, slow or stop. Common verbal alerts to conditions and hazards include:
- “Car Back” or “Car Up” (there is a car coming from behind or approaching)
- “On Your Left / Right” (I am passing on your left or your right)
- “Turning” “Stopping” “Slowing”
- “Glass” “Rough Road” “Hole, etc. (There is debris or a rough spot in the road)
Practice your safety before The Ride, and before you know it, you’ll be calling out “On Your Left” at home and even in the supermarket!
We’re excited to announce the new RosRoll route for the 2017 Ride For Roswell. Our Operations & Logistics manager, Tom, gives you an inside look into this new route:
The 14 Mile RosRoll will start and finish at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, creating a new Finish Line for the first time ever in Ride history. RosRoll is a partnership with Slow Roll Buffalo, the cycling phenomenon that takes to Buffalo streets every Monday night, May through October. Slow Roll Buffalo is a series of community bike rides sponsored by Independent Health and Go Bike Buffalo.
The RosRoll will blend the fun and community aspects of Slow Roll with the cause and mission of The Ride For Roswell. Five hundred riders will ride together, escorted by Buffalo Police parade detail and a contingent of Slow Roll Buffalo volunteer riders. The RosRoll will ride past iconic Buffalo landmarks in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Olmsted Parks System, the Central Terminal, and Larkinville.
The RosRoll is perfect for all levels of cycling experience, and for families with children. The riding pace is 8 – 10 miles per hour, and the whole group stays together to see the community, not to ride fast. Buffalo Police officers control traffic at all intersections, and Slow Roll Buffalo #squad volunteers ride along as riding marshals and bike mechanics to provide a fully supported bike riding experience without the worry of city traffic. Slow Roll Buffalo routinely conducts rides of 1000+ riders, so keeping the RosRoll at a cap of 500 registered fundraising riders will ensure maximum riding fun for all.
The RosRoll starts at 8:30 am, after the Canada routes have started, at Roswell Park’s Kaminski Park. The riders will experience a moving send-off with a tribute to Roswell patients, staff, and volunteers.
Newly Announced: We will roll back to Roswell Park around 11:30 a.m. for a 60’s – themed after party with lunch, music, and celebration, hosted by Team Roswell’s Love Fest group. Convenient free downtown parking on Ellicott Street is included.
In 2016, 657 teams took part in The Ride For Roswell, raising $3.7 million. WOW! Being a part of a team might seem like a lot of work, but the truth is, it’s not! Here’s what it takes:
You + one other person = a team.
It’s that simple! Your team can have as many people as you would like, as long as one person is designated as the Team Captain. If you have never been a team captain for The Ride For Roswell before, check out the Team Captains page for tips, tools and the Team Captain Action Plan to building a successful team. You can also join our Team Captains Facebook Group to connect with other Team Captains and stay up-to-date with the latest Team Captain information.
Once your team is registered, returning for the next year will be a piece of cake. During registration, Team Captains are presented with the option to reactive their team, which automatically transfers over a team’s page content, contacts, and emails from the year past!
There are several perks to having a team at The Ride. Teams have the option to reserve a team tent in Ride City to serve as a central gathering place on Ride Day, and can also participate in the Best Team T-shirt and Best Team Tent contests! Team Captains (and Extra Mile Club members) will also receive an invitation to the annual Above & Beyond Celebration held in the fall, where the Top 100 teams are presented with a personalized plaque.
For team-related questions, please contact Allison Polakiewicz at Allison.Polakiewicz@RoswellPark.org or (716) 845-8846. We look forward to seeing you and your team at The Ride!
Val Grigoriou, a “mostly-retired” bike mechanic who has since turned to the exciting world of software development, spent many years sharpening her skills at Campus WheelWorks, Trophy Bikes (Philadelphia) and Mountain Sports Outlet/Bicycle Village (Colorado). She founded a local women’s mountain bike club, is currently a member of Nickel City Cycles women’s development race team and races track, road and mountain bikes. She hosts events and maintenance classes on behalf of Campus WheelWorks, and has supported The Ride For Roswell for several years.
We all get involved with The Ride For Roswell for different reasons. Whether this is your first year riding or you’ve been a veteran of The Ride for years, some pre-ride preparation will take you a long way and ensure you have the best ride experience you can have.
1. Dust off the bike and visit your favorite bike shop, well in advance of The Ride.
If you take no other advice from this little blog, take away this piece! We are SO lucky in Western New York to have so many quality bike shops to choose from. Take your bike to any of the fine establishments in our community at least a few weeks before The Ride and have them conduct a safety inspection. Safe and properly working gear is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your Ride experience. Going weeks ahead of The Ride will ensure that even if the shop of your choice is backlogged with repairs and service during this, their peak season, you’ll have enough time to do any necessary repairs or work to your bike.
This rule is true for everyone. You may be thinking, “But I only ride a couple times a year and my bike just sits in the garage untouched the rest of the time, it’ll be fine.” This isn’t necessarily true — even “just sitting” bikes are still exposed to a lot of abuse from weather, temperature and humidity changes. Chains can rust, tires can crack – all from “just sitting.” It’s best to have someone take a look. Or maybe you’re a weekend cycling warrior and regularly pull 200 miles or more per week on your own and can’t bear to be without your bicycle for more than a few minutes. You’re ignoring that creaky noise because “It’s been going on for a few weeks, what’s the harm in a couple more?” Schedule an appointment with your favorite shop to minimize the time your bike needs to be away from your side. Maybe walk around and grab some coffee or lunch while they do they work that needs to be done, or stalk Strava segments in preparation for when your bicycle is back in your loving embrace. Better that than having that creak you’re ignoring turn into something bigger and more catastrophic on mile 72 of the Century route.
2. Flat tires are the most common mechanical issue on The Ride. Buy flat-fixing supplies.
While you’re at the bike shop getting your safety inspection, pick up an inner tube in the correct size for your bike. (The size is written on the side of your tire, much like the way it is on car tires and will most commonly start with 24, 26, 27, 29, 650, or 700 for adult size bikes.) Or, the staff at the bike shop can guide you to which size you need if your bike or wheel are present. If you want to go above and beyond, you can pick up a small pump, tire levers and a way to carry these items. Even if you don’t know how to fix a flat, if you have all the tools to fix it, chances are another passing rider or a support vehicle who do know how to fix the flat will pass you. If you’re prepared for what your bike needs, they will be better able to help you out and get you rolling again. Don’t forget, you can also call in to Ride support for help.
3. Do a personal safety and comfort check.
Helmets are required for The Ride. Period. Make sure yours is safe and fits well. If you’re unsure, bring it with you when you take your bicycle for its safety inspection.
If you don’t already own a helmet, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on one. However, buying a helmet that fits well, that you find aesthetically pleasing and gives you the right amount of comfort and breathability means it’s more likely that you will wear this helmet again and that is what’s most important. Think of all that time and money you spent educating your brain — that’s a pretty crucial investment in there, and it’s best to protect that investment with a helmet. Its simple economics.
Gloves and cycling-specific clothing can also greatly enhance your Ride experience. At the very least, wear something that you would consider wearing to the gym. Remember, it’s going to be the end of June and our summers are hot and humid. No one wants to be sitting in sweaty cotton on a day like that. Bicycle shorts are 100% worth the investment. The combination of padding and breathability makes a huge difference for your ride quality.
Finally, ask the bike shop staff questions. Trust me, they’ve heard it all and there are absolutely no dumb questions. Wonder why your seat feels like a medieval torture device? Do you start sweating like a barn animal the second you even look at your bike? Need to find a jersey that matches your shoes? Ask! They are there to help!
4. Attend pre-Ride events.
There is no better way to get excited and feel like the important part of this community that you are than attending the pre-Ride events. Not only can you rub elbows with other riders, but you’ll learn something about The Ride at each event that will help you on the day of. Maybe you’ll even meet someone doing the same route and you’ll make a new friend you can ride with that day.
5. Train for your Ride.
Training doesn’t have to be a scary, intimidating thing. Like most other things in life, training is a wide spectrum. The nice thing about training is that it lets you know your limits. With a little personal insight, you’ll make better choices on the day of your ride.
Let’s say you’re doing the 10-mile route with your kids and family. What better excuse to get everyone outside on a lovely May afternoon than to go for a similar length family bike ride? Warm air, bike paths, maybe a stop for ice cream? Even a ride that simple and leisurely will give you some quick insights. Maybe your 8-year-old gets cranky around mile 5 and you need to pull over to take a break before that happens. Maybe your 10-year-old is so fast they’re a shoo-in for the Tour de France in a few years and you need to reel them in somehow. Getting out before the big event can give you all this insight — not to mention it can be fun and a great way to get outside and make some memories.
On the flip side, maybe you’ve set a goal to do 20 or 60 or 100 miles during The Ride. It’s smart to try and work your way up to these distances. Start small, give yourself some reasonable goals and make mental or actual notes on how each ride felt. Did you have enough water? Did you have enough food? Did you have fun? Listen to your body, you know it better than anyone. There are also many training rides put on by shops, clubs or other Ride For Roswell riders that you can join in on.
6. Consider attending a bike maintenance class.
You’ve taken your bike to a shop, you’ve bought a replacement tube and maybe some tools but you’re thinking, “Man, I’d sure love to know how to do this on my own!” Being prepared gives you the confidence to go longer distances. It can also make you someone else’s knight in shining armor…err… Lycra™ on the day of The Ride as you pull over to gallantly help them with their metal steed. Check with GoBike Buffalo, Campus WheelWorks or other shops to see what classes they are offering. (Some are free!)
7. Prepare your necessities the night before.
The night before, lay out all your clothing, route maps, water bottles, snacks, helmet, cell phone, extra tube or flat fixing supplies and any other Ride-pertinent documents or other items you personally need to make it through the day. This will save you some stress in the morning and ensure you don’t forget something import.
8. Stretch, breathe, check your tire pressure & relax.
Once you have arrived at The Ride, take a few minutes after you check in to stretch. It will “wake up” your muscles and keep them loose. Take some deep breaths and try to relax. The less tense you are before The Ride, the better your ride will feel. Finally, do a quick tire pressure check. This simple gesture will make your Ride more efficient and can even help prevent certain types of flats. There are designated locations to do this with volunteers from local shops willing to help you pump up your tires before you go.
9. Drink water. Eat snacks.
Now that you’ve done all this prep work, make sure you keep yourself hydrated and fed throughout The Ride. Cycling burns quite a bit of calories, so it’s best to keep some healthy snacks (I prefer dehydrated dates or other fruit, and sometimes an energy bar or gel) with you and remember to eat small bites before you start to feel tired. Drink water often and fill up at each rest stop.
10. HAVE FUN!
The most important part about this Ride is that you are there to support this incredible organization. Maybe you know someone who has fought cancer or maybe you’re just a supportive community member — but the real focus of this Ride is to raise support for Roswell Park and to have some fun doing it.
Courtney Walczak is an experienced rider who will be riding the 65.6 mile route at this year’s Ride with team LocalEdge. Like so many in Western New York, Courtney has a cancer connection, and her family is grateful for the care and compassion her uncle experienced while he was a patient at Roswell Park. In her spare time, Courtney volunteers as a member of the Slow Roll Buffalo Squad, supporting riders with mechanical fixes and safety education.
Courtney shares her tips for hill climbing, and the concepts she describes are the same for the Delaware Park Ring Road and the Onondaga Escarpment!
Conquering Hills – The Basics:
- Keep your eyes on the road so you can spot the hill approaching in plenty of time.
- When approaching the hill, start gearing down — doing this ahead of time means you will have fewer gears to drop when the hill starts.
- When you’re on the hill, continue to drop gears as needed. Try to drop through the gears one at a time, as dropping several at once can sometimes cause the chain to drop off the gears completely. For extra power, you may want to stand as you pedal up that hill.
How To Change Gears – Review:
Click here to review the basics of changing gears. You should find this extremely helpful for hill climbing, and for maintaining a safe and efficient ride, whether it’s to the corner store or to Lake Ontario.
Hosting a team fundraiser in June? Planning post-training ride drinks with your teammates? Now through the end of the month, 25 cents from every case of all Labatt products sold at participating retailers, including Tops Friendly Markets, NOCO Express, and Anchor Bar locations, will be donated to The Ride For Roswell.
This post was submitted by Justine Jopp, Ride Volunteer Emeritus and Extra Mile Club Member. Justine is both an avid cyclist and shopper that embraces every undertaking with a sense of ownership, zeal, and enthusiasm. Not only have you seen her out on the routes planning, supporting and encouraging riders — you’ll also see her around town wearing orange and riding her orange bike supporting The Ride For Roswell.
After winter in Buffalo, any sunny day above 40 usually gets everyone thinking about spring. And in my house, it usually means thoughts turn to biking.
I do the preliminary checks on bike tires and air pressure; chain and brake condition; and making sure my seat pack has sun block, spare air, patch kit, tire levers, and — in my case — lipstick. Any true maintenance needs, I let the professionals hook me up and take my bike right to my favorite bike shop.
My next thoughts turn to what to wear. Because each season and weather condition differs, I’ve invested in quite the wardrobe. I’ve got padded cycling shorts to protect the privates; a wicking undershirt; a jersey; long-sleeved, cool-weather jacket; a windstopper jacket, balaclava; cycling gloves; shoes; and helmet. And it all comes in orange, my favorite color!
But not everyone needs all of this.
If you’re a casual rider and you ride around your neighborhood or go a few miles along the bike path, comfortable shorts and a shirt are just fine — skipping flip flops for sure.
Before heading out, be smart and take a look at the weather forecast.
Always wear sunscreen and a helmet. Wear a light jacket in cooler weather and while cotton is okay for a short jaunt, cotton is rotten in the rain. A good waterproof jacket will keep your torso dry and help regulate your body temp. GoreTex is the best material and it is both waterproof and breathable.
For the more traveled cyclist, you’re going to want to invest in those padded shorts. Cycling shorts are designed to make your ride more comfy and to protect you from irritation and chafing. Because they have bacteria-fighting liners and flat seams, it’s recommended to skip the skivvies. Your shorts should fit like a glove.
Your hands will thank you for protecting them with cycling gloves. The constant friction of the handlebars moving against the skin on your hands –especially when they’re damp — can cause blisters. Gloves also can improve your grip on the handlebars and provide warmth and wind protection in cold weather.
And you’ll probably be more comfortable with a moisture-wicking shirt and jersey. Cycling jerseys are designed for sweating in and are designed to stay put when a rider leans forward. Biking jerseys come with pockets in the back where you can store all sorts of things: a snack, banana, light repair items, maps, money, ID or even lipstick.
Feel free to start small, adding apparel one piece at a time until you feel comfortable biking in all weather conditions. And of course, have fun with the many colors and designs offered. Who knows, The Ride For Roswell EMC jersey alone might motivate you to become a top fundraiser — just for the wardrobe start!