STEM in Action

Each day of the Cycle for STEM ride is full of fun and fellowship. Along the trail, the importance of raising money for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) grants hits home for us in new ways. For one, we gave out three grants to local high schools in the towns we passed through along the way. Hearing the excitement and enthusiasm of the educators who accept the checks renews our commitment to raising this money. Here’s a picture of the presentation of a $500 grant to Hancock High School Wednesday night.

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For another thing, we run into teachers, scientists and mathematicians who are riding along the same trails. Their interest in what we do and reinforcement that this type of money will make a big difference touches us. It makes it personal in new ways, and we hope they carry our message with them.

And last but certainly not least, we see the effects of STEM everywhere. Without GPS half the support team would basically just be “Lost in the Woods for STEM.” Almost every facet of our modern lives is touched by STEM fields. Cars. Roads. Radios. Medicine. Computers. Smart phones. Not to mention, the amazing engineering wonders we’re having the chance to experience along the way. When we see infrastructure like the Paw Paw Tunnel or Dam #4 or even the pathway along the side of the C&O Canal Towpath we remember, this is the kind of effort we support. Dedicated people building amazing benefits for society. STEM matters. Imagine, for a moment, what life would be like without your technology. Or reliable infrastructure. Or modern conveniences. Or modern medicine. Scary. Our future could look that way. Instead, we believe we should encourage the mind who will make the future even more amazing than the present. That’s why we work so hard and ride so far. Seeing the results of STEM along a beautiful path over the course of the week is just an inspirational bonus. 

The Paw Paw Tunnel

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Dam #4

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There’s no doubt we have a worthy cause, but we do manage to throw in quite a bit of fun along the way. Here are a few shots to give you an idea of Day Four. See you tomorrow!

The team at Fort Frederick. Military technology has advanced some, don’t you think?

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Ron Lipscomb dressed up as a Maryland militia member.

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A train stopped some of our riders for a bit.

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We have a whole team of people taking photos and posting them on social media. Far more content than we can ever share here so please make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and to search for the hashtag #c4stem on both sites to see more. 

Day Two: On the Other Side of the Continental Divide

This morning started with the opportunity to give a $500 STEM grant to Uniontown Area High School. The school administrators who accepted the check informed us they would use it to update their biology program. Perhaps this money will jump start the passion of future doctors, researchers and veterinarians? We can’t wait to find out!

After that, Cycle for STEM 2014 followed the pretty usual routine. Cyclists went a long way on their bikes in the rain while the support crew chased after them and tried to feed them more than they wanted. (Just kidding!) Hopefully the sun shining on us right now holds and we have a few days of clear, sunny beauty to pedal through as we make our way to D.C. 

The day had a few highlights, including cresting the Continental Divide and being greeted by rider Ron Lipscomb’s father and then his mother and grandparents at two different spots along the ride. It was almost like we had fans, though oddly they mostly seemed interested in Ron. Either way, it was a great time full of fun and pride. The pictures probably tell the story better, so enjoy!

It’s muddy out here.

Ron and his dad.

Ron with his grandparents who are holding the Coast Guard and U.S. flags.

Just about ready to set off. 

Chris Gogoel showing off the jersey, including platinum sponsor Google.

Pulling into the first rest stop of the day. Al Mink is waving hello.

The downpour on the detour. Still don’t know why the original route was closed. 

Thanking our sponsors in the tunnel under the Continental Divide. 

Cycle for STEM’s Family and Friends

For many of our cyclists and support crew, the connections forged during Cycle for STEM come through the shared experience of riding 335 miles (often in bad weather) and all the good and bad that comes with this type of trek. However this year, we have a couple of prior connections making life on the trail warm and fun.

Brian Moore brought his three children out for our little spin, turning Cycle for STEM into a real family affair. Brian and his daughter Evelyn even ride a tandem. (Kelsey and Conor ride their own bikes.) Brian says that both he and his wife are involved in STEM fields so supporting our cause is a natural fit. Throw in the chance to ride a trail he’s wanted to take his kids on for awhile and you have the perfect combination!

Two other members of our six-day team found out they have a prior link as well. Ludmilla Parnell recognized Sam Carolus-Hager’s father when the team mustered for the initial bus ride up to Pittsburgh, but she couldn’t remember from where. Turns out that Sam, who has graduated from college now, went to high school with Ludmilla’s son. Great people have a way of coming together. And where better to do it than on a bike ride through some of the most beautiful locations in the country while raising money for an awesome cause?

Oh but wait, there’s more. At our first rest stop today (that’s Tuesday for those of you late to our party here), rider Ron Lipscomb’s dad, who lives and works nearby, stopped by to greet his son and encourage the whole team. 

[Side note fun fact: Ron and Brian are both in the Coast Guard and were recruited by one-day rider Caleb James, also a member of the Coast Guard.]

So you can see, Cycle for STEM really has many layers. We’re building communities within communities, bringing together old connections and reaching out to people we meet along the way. We cycle to support STEM education. We support STEM education because it’s critical to the success and wellness of society. We promote that same prosperity by supporting each other in our microcosm and doing all we can to push that out to everyone we can reach. Come be part of our effort. Who knows? You might already know someone along the way. If you don’t, just bring your family!

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more good times and education information. 

Day One: Funding the Future. Riding in the Rain.

The reason we all put so much effort into Cycle for STEM isn’t to ride bicycles (okay, it’s not just to ride bicycles) or have fun teasing each other about riding bicycles. We’re driven by our desire to help students and their teachers achieve great things in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education. 

Today, before our first full day of riding, we gave a check to Steel Valley High School. Asst. Principal John Strum accepted the $500 grant, which he says will go toward a new classroom designed for a special program at the school that runs in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University. The effort gives the high school students a chance to learn special STEM skills including how to design apps and perform programming. 

Strum explains that the timing of this grant could not be better. We can’t wait to check back in soon and learn about the great things they’re doing!

After the presentation, Cycle for STEM 2014 looked a lot like 2013, with buckets of rain coming down on the riders. But everyone made it in safe and sound. The sun even came out for final check-in and bike maintenance. Tomorrow we’re giving out $500 more to another local high school. Do days get better than this? The pictures below hit a few highlight spots along our route. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You’ll feel like you’re along for the ride. 

The Steepest Officially Recorded Street in the United States

Pittsburgh is home to the steepest street in the United States. When our riders heard that, naturally the first thought that crossed their minds was “We have to ride that!” Here are some images to give you an idea of how steep Canton Street is.

Only U.S Army Capt. Bobby Steele made it to the top, though several of our riders gave it a good try! Everyone had a good time, and that really was the point!

For more photos and for videos like us at www.facebook.com/cycleforstem and follow us on Twitter cycleforstem.

We’re Underway!

In a flashback to Cycle for STEM 2013, our ride today included a fair bit of wet weather, including lightning and tornado warnings! And just like last year, the rain didn’t dampen spirits at all. The team rode out to the trail head this afternoon so everyone could get in every mile of the C&O Canal Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage. Here’s a photo tour of the day. 

Banner full of our wonderful sponsors before the ride began. 

The off!

Arriving at Point Park.

Co-founders Terry Rogers and Sean McGowan at the trail head.

Cycle for STEM 2014: Rider Need-to-Know

Fundraising

Between individual fundraising and corporate sponsorships, we’re right about at the halfway mark to our goal! For those of you who may need some ideas on additional ways to draw donations, our fundraising toolkit can be found here: http://www.afcea.org/events/cycleforstem/14/includes/Fundraising_Toolkit.pdf

Paperwork

We have to keep our lawyers happy! Please fill out the waiver and emergency contact form and return them as soon as possible. This is extremely importantnobody gets on the bus to Pittsburgh or the shuttle to White’s Ferry and nobody rides unless both forms are completed in full and sent back beforehand.

Meet-Up at AFCEA International

4400 Fair Lakes Court

Fairfax, VA 22033

6-Day Riders:  Meet at 9am on Sunday, July 13. Expected departure time for Pittsburgh is 9:30am.

4-Day Riders: We have a volunteer that can take you and your bags to Cumberland on Tuesday (July 15) afternoon/evening (time of departure TBD), but we currently are unable to transport bikes on Tuesday. If you would like, you can meet up with the 6-Day riders at AFCEA on Sunday morning (or drop your bike off at AFCEA HQ at any time during the week before the ride) and we will transport your bike along with the others along the first days of the ride. (Your bike will remain secure on the truck at all times.) If you need your bike Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, or if you must travel on Wednesday morning, please plan to make your own arrangements for transportation. NOTE: We have reserved a room for you in Cumberland on Tuesday night. If you are planning to travel to Cumberland on Wednesday morning, please let us know ASAP. We expect to begin Wednesday’s ride at 8am.

1-Day Riders:  Meet at 6:30am on Saturday, July 19 for 7:15am departure to White’s Ferry.

Trail Etiquette

1)  Safety – It’s going to be hot and humid. Stay hydrated and fueled. If you’re not feeling well, do not push yourself beyond your capabilities.  The support team is there for a reason, and there’s nothing wrong with finishing a day in one of the vehicles if you’re not feeling well enough to ride safely to the hotel. Everyone has bad days on the bike!

2)  This is NOT a race! Some riders will be faster than others and that is expected. However, we do expect the group to stay within a reasonable distance of one another. Rest and lunch stops and support teams are spread out along the trail (cue sheets will be distributed each day) and all riders MUST sign in at every rest area and at the lunch stop. If you race ahead, you will not only be leaving the team, but you may be waiting for a long time at a rest area as the support teams will not leave a stop until every rider has checked in. Enjoy the scenery and the camaraderie of the ride! It’s more fun that way. Also of note is that the posted speed limit on both the GAP and the C&O Towpath is 15mph.

3)  Sweepers – there will be a group of two designated sweepers each day. Those two people will be the last into each stop and the last into the hotel each night. It would be nice if everybody took a turn at least one day so that the same people aren’t sweeping all days of the ride. If you’d like to volunteer to sweep on a given day, please volunteer now by emailing cycleforstem@afcea.org.

4)  Basic courtesies – there will be other folks using the trail. Give an audible warning when you pass, ride defensively when around other riders and pedestrians, and remember that pedestrians and horses have the right of way. Obey traffic signs and signals (not just a courtesy, but also the law) and use hand signals as needed.

Miscellaneous

1)  Dinners – It’s not required, but having dinner as a group every night is a lot of fun and a huge part of what makes this event so much of a team effort. We’ll plan to have dinner each night within a reasonable amount of time of the last riders arriving at the hotel. In every town, there are dinner options within walking distance of the hotel. (And in Hancock, we’re planning a pizza party at the hotel!) NOTE: Dinners are an out-of-pocket expense for riders and support team.

2)  Breakfasts – Included at all hotels except Ohiopyle and Shepherdstown. At the hotels where breakfast is not included, breakfast is an out-of-pocket expense for riders and support team.

3)  Friday night in Leesburg – A friend of AFCEA has offered to host the team for a BBQ at his house. To, in his words, “do it right” he needs about $400 additional dollars beyond what he can contribute from his own pocket. There is no expectation of you making a donation for this, but if you would like to toss a few bucks in the pot, a suggested amount is $15 per person. We will work out transportation for riders and the support team from Friday night’s hotel to the BBQ and back.

4)  Hotels for 1-Day riders – If you’re from out of town and need a hotel on Friday and/or Saturday night, there are a number of hotels within a short distance of AFCEA HQ including a Hyatt, a Residence Inn, and a Hilton Garden Inn within 1 mile. You will need to make your own reservations if you need a room.

5)  Trail Nicknames – Expect to get one. You’ll find out more on the ride!  ☺  If you have a nomination for a nickname for somebody, please feel free to bring it up at any time during the ride!  (e.g.:  Co-founder Terry Roger’s trailname is “Boo Boo”)

6)  End of ride celebration – After we reach mile marker zero in Georgetown, we’re going to be shuttled back to AFCEA for an end of ride celebration. Food and beverages will be served and AFCEA does have shower facilities for those who need to wash off!

Meet Our Riders: Sam Carolus-Hager

If you want to have that feeling of escape and freedom for a whole week while supporting a great cause, what are you waiting for? Sign up!

 

 

Most of our riders here at Cycle for STEM have been out of school for awhile now (we won’t say how long…) and are raising money because they see in the workplace and in society the need for improved science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. But our most recent six-day rider breaks that mold. Sam Carolus-Hager is a recent college graduate who actually heard about our cause from a former professor.

“I’m participating in Cycle for STEM to enjoy one of our region’s best rides, and to raise money for STEM education at the same time,” Sam says. “Cycle for STEM is important because it helps support America’s next generation of STEM education.”

He feels the quiet trails with beautiful scenery along the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath will be the best part of the ride, and he can’t wait to get on the road. “I just signed up for the ride, but I’m looking forward to lots of things,” Sam states. “Mostly, I’m just excited for July 13,” the first day of the event.

Sam volunteered to play the role of mechanic during our six-day trip from Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. Along the way, he’ll help riders who have flat tires, broken chains or other equipment problems. In the meantime, he’s prepping his own bike, outfitting it with some really wide tires and possibly a rack with a pannier.

Hopefully, Sam’s enthusiasm for cycling and education encourage other people to become involved in this fantastic event, even if they’re not sure they’re ready. “My advice for someone thinking about doing Cycle for STEM would be to get out and ride,” Sam says. “If you want to have that feeling of escape and freedom for a whole week while supporting a great cause, what are you waiting for? Sign up!”

Come join Sam and all the fun! You can register at www.afcea.org/events/cycleforstem/14/register.asp.

Ready to be involved but not to hop on a bike? Donate instead. All your generosity goes directly to STEM scholarships. You can give online at www.afcea.org/events/cycleforstem/14/donate.asp.

Like our Facebook page to participate in our good times and see the personalities of our core team. And follow us on Twitter via @cycleforstem. Your interaction on social media is important to us and we’d love to hear from you. Hashtag on all social media is #c4stem. You can also email us at cycleforstem@afcea.org.

Meet Our Riders: Ludmilla Parnell

"The country’s future progress in this area depends on our ability to provide a good education and to help those with talent achieve their goals in this area."

Cycle for STEM is full of people eager to have a whole lot of fun riding their bikes and ribbing each other. But the fun surrounds a critical core purpose—raising money and awareness of the need for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies. Six-day rider Ludmilla Parnell explains the importance of this cause as she describes her reasons for dedicating a week of her life to pedaling a bike for it.

“I’m riding in Cycle for STEM 2014 for a couple of reasons,” she explains. “For one, I think it’s important that we encourage students and educators to pursue technical and science education and to give them the resources to excel in this area. The country’s future progress in this area depends on our ability to provide a good education and to help those with talent achieve their goals in this area.  My own son is an engineering student at Virginia Tech and I was a science grad and a practicing scientist for several years, so I appreciate the work it takes to achieve success in the STEM areas.

“But we also need to help those who have the capabilities yet may lack the financial resources,” she continues. “I hope that our contribution through our generous donors will provide support to deserving students and educators.”

Ludmilla, who has been an AFCEA member for years and actively participates with the association’s Small Business Committee, is also riding in Cycle for STEM 2014 this July as a personal challenge. Through her AFCEA affiliations she’s met many great people (including the other awesome Cycle for STEMmers), and this ride offered a way to test herself physically and mentally while supporting the organization and its Educational Foundation.

Don’t be mistaken, however. Ludmilla is dedicated and driven, but she’s ready to enjoy herself just as much as everyone else. “I’m looking forward to all parts of the ride: the first couple of days with the hills; the beautiful scenery along the way; and the camaraderie I anticipate will develop as we all have moments of exhaustion, and maybe even discouragement, but pull one another to succeed as a team toward the end goal of finishing the ride.”

To prepare, she is taking short training rides on weekdays and long training rides on the weekends. Ludmilla also swims three times a week to keep her upper body fit. The first weekend in June she logged 100 miles and will try to keep increasing both the weekend and weekday rides until the official event begins on July 13th.

Ludmilla’s enthusiasm, dedication and sportsmanship make her a blessing to the team, but she’s not relying on humans alone for Godspeed. “I am also getting a group of my ‘prayer warrior’ friends together to pray not only for me, but for our entire team—both cyclists and volunteers—that God’s grace would be with us all,” she explains.

 

Cycle for STEM raises money for STEM scholarships which are awarded through AFCEA’s Educational Foundation. The entire trip travels from Pittsburgh, PA, to Washington, D.C., along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath from July 13-19. Six-day, four-day and one-day ride options are available. Come join Ludmilla and all the fun! You can register at www.afcea.org/events/cycleforstem/14/register.asp.

Ready to be involved but not to hop on a bike? Donate instead. All your generosity goes directly to STEM scholarships. You can give online at www.afcea.org/events/cycleforstem/14/donate.asp.

Like our Facebook page to participate in our good times and see the personalities of our core team. And follow us on Twitter via @cycleforstem. Your interaction on social media is important to us and we’d love to hear from you. Hashtag on all social media is #c4stem. You can also email us at cycleforstem@afcea.org.