Meet Our Riders: Terry Rogers

“Cycling is great individually–it’s even more fun as a group! Come out and join us.”

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Terry Rogers is more than just a cyclist in Cycle for STEM, he’s one of the co-founders along with his good friend Sean McGowan. So it’s no surprise that Terry is participating in July’s event, though his motivations are far from self-serving. Terry emphasizes that first and foremost, this event is about supporting education, specifically science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The ride serves as a platform to raise awareness of and funds for STEM initiatives; the money goes to deserving students and teachers through scholarships and grants from the AFCEA Educational Foundation. Cycle for STEM is the signature fundraiser for the foundation, which needs the support to continue to hand out awards. Corporate sponsors and individual donors help make this possible when they give to Cycle for STEM.

And while Terry is undoubtedly a passionate and dedicated man, he’s always interested in having as much fun as possible. So he rides in part because he says, “It’s a great time!” The trip is beautiful with gorgeous trails through unique and interesting towns. “Additionally, it’s a fantastic way to challenge yourself—and the feeling of accomplishment when complete is amazing,” he explains. But more than anything, it’s the people who make the difference. Terry made new friends during Cycle for STEM 2013, and he also got to know his former friends and people he’d work with for years much better. “I’m looking forward to that same experience again in 2014,” Terry says.

What did he enjoy most about last year? Just about everything! “The best parts were the feeling of accomplishment of taking the event from inception to execution in just three months and seeing what a success it became, even exceeding the fundraising goal,” Terry explains. “And, the camaraderie during the week with the support team and the fellow riders. Unlike most of the riders, I actually loved (for the most part) the weather challenges we faced. It made the event even more powerful–it would have been easy to give up on either of the two days of record-setting rainfall. But we plowed through it because we believed in what we were doing. That makes for a great story, for great memories and shows how meaningful the cause is. To be out there riding for 50+ miles in mud so deep and thick that it had to be hosed off the riders in a high-pressure carwash shows the dedication and belief of the team. Also, I might be the only person who actually enjoyed riding through that slop–it was just sheer fun to be riding in conditions that were better suited for fish than for bicycles.”

This year, Terry is most looking forward to more folks participating. “The size of the team in 2013 was perfect for the first time doing it–we were able to see what worked and didn’t work, and we’re using those lessons to make Cycle For STEM 2014 even better,” he explains. Now, the team needs the event to grow in size. Last year was powerful with 14 people executing the seven-day ride. Just think of the power if that group were multiplied two, three or even four times!

To prepare for 2014, Terry bought a new bike. “And I’m going to ride the heck out of it!” Terry exclaims. He’s getting out quite a bit despite the weather challenges in the D.C. area, but plans to step it up. His goal is to average 150 or more miles each week between March and June.

So, are you still sitting on the fence about joining in this fantastic event? “Anybody can do this ride,” Terry encourages. “We had cyclists of all skill, experience and fitness levels in 2013. It takes some training and a lot of motivation, but the feeling of accomplishment for contributing to a great cause and the personal satisfaction makes it well worth it.”

If you feel you don’t have the time to train, one option might be commuting by bike if you have a safe route. Terry’s daily commute is 30 miles roundtrip. With D.C. traffic, the bike takes little longer than the car. About 60 percent of the miles Terry put into training last year were commuter miles and he expects that to increase for 2014. If you live in the D.C. area, the team does regular weekend rides. You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn where and when.

As you’ve already learned, Terry is an enthusiastic man with a penchant for big plans. He wants to see Cycle for STEM expand to an around-the-world event, saying “2014 is the first step on that journey. Thanks to everyone who has and will support Cycle for STEM.”

Come make friends with Terry and all of the Cycle for STEM team. You can learn more about joining on our website. Also, come check out our Facebook page to participate in our fun and see the personalities of our core team. You can email cycleforstem@afcea.org to request specific information. And follow us on Twitter via @cycleforstem. Your interaction in social media is important to us and we’d love to hear from you. Hashtag on all social media is #c4stem.

Meet Our Riders: Ben Smith

“If I can do it, you can too.”—Ben Smith

 

Ben Smith is riding in Cycle for STEM 2014 to support the overall effort of all the event stands for—supporting the AFCEA Educational Foundation and raising money for its science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scholarship program. He explains that “American students face a skills gap in STEM subjects. The Cycle for STEM initiative hopes to narrow that gap by providing scholarships to college students who are studying science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics – especially those who plan to use their education to teach STEM subjects after they graduate. It also supports existing teachers with grants intended to help them augment STEM activities for their students.

“While the event’s primary tangible benefit is the financial support we are able to provide to deserving STEM teachers and students, it’s also an innovative way of raising awareness of the STEM skills gap and encouraging others to get involved.”

Like all the cyclists who participated last year, Smith feels that the fellowship on the ride was the best part. The camaraderie developed among the riders and the support team has developed into friendships that remain in place today. “Of course, there’s also a huge sense of accomplishment derived from riding one’s bike 335 miles!” Ben adds.

This year, he’s looking forward to better weather on the trail. In 2013, rain fell on the riders almost every day, making for cold and muddy conditions. Ben feels he’s a little behind where he wants to be at this point in terms of training for the July ride. He’s been riding inside but isn’t fully comfortable with his trainer yet. He’d like to get outdoors for a ride before work, but the 15-degree weather makes it difficult. So he’s trying to maximize time outside on weekends.

Smith encourages anyone and everyone to come out and participate this year. “As I said recently, I was the ‘well, if that guy can do it’ rider from Cycle for STEM 2013,” he explains. “I was overweight and hadn’t exercised regularly for years.” He only started training in June for an October ride, which he completed in its entirety. “There were a couple of times when I really had to dig deep to find the motivation to carry on, but knowing the support team was just a couple miles up the trail with celery and a refill for my Camelbak helped me keep my legs pumping.”

 

Come make friends with Ben and all of the Cycle for STEM team. You can learn more about joining on our website. Also, come check out our Facebook page to participate in our fun and see the personalities of our core team. You can email cycleforstem@afcea.org to request specific information. And follow us on Twitter via @cycleforstem. Your interaction in social media is important to us and we’d love to hear from you. Hashtag on all social media is #c4stem.

Welcome to our New Sponsors!

Our Cycle for STEM team is growing thanks to the support of our new sponsors. Please join us in welcoming these great organizations! We’re happy to have them along for the ride. A huge thank you to everyone involved for helping us achieve our goal to promote education. To find out how you can become a sponsor, visit the Cycle for STEM website for a range of options.

Small Business Sponsors:

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Brede Exposition Services has been working with customers in the tradeshow business for more than 115 years, providing support for shows in cities across the country.

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The mission of Clean Fairfax is to encourage environmental stewardship and urban sustainability in Fairfax County, Virginia through education, programming, and community involvement.

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J. Spargo & Associates Inc. is a full-service event management company. JS&A offers a full suite of services that support the production of tradeshows, conventions, conferences, symposiums and seminars.

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ClearEdge IT Solutions LLC is a mission-driven technology thought leader grown out of the Intelligence Community that provides software engineering, big data, cloud, data analytics, and data science solutions and services.

In-Kind Sponsor:

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Chamois Butt’r was developed by physical therapist and cyclist Steve Mathews, in collaboration with pro cyclists, physicians and chemists, and uses only the highest quality ingredients to improve riding comfort.

 

Cycle for STEM 2014 runs July 13-19 from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. In addition to the full trip, there are four-day and one-day ride options. Visit the website for to learn more. For additional information, including how to participate in training rides, email cycleforstem@afcea.org. We’ll post information on this blog, on our Facebook page and on Twitter at @cycleforstem. Hashtag for social media is #C4STEM.

Help Us Change the Future: What We Do and Why We Do It

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Cycle for STEM is an annual cycling event that raises funds for scholarships and awareness of the need to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) schooling. This type of education is critical to the advancement of U.S. and international interests. Without proper teaching in these fields, innovation and the development of new capabilities will suffer. The issue is so pressing that the White House began a major push in 2009 to “to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade.” Cycle for STEM advances this cause that is critical to students now and society in the future.

In addition to planning the big ride in July, our organization is reaching out to the cycling and education communities that can participate in and benefit from the event and its after effects. Opportunities are available to ride or volunteer to support the ride, donate or become a sponsor.

Cycle for STEM is eager to raise awareness of this often overlooked issue. One thing you can do for Cycle for STEM, and hence society overall, is spread the word that this is a challenge for our nation at all. Every conversation helps. Every encounter makes a difference. Every mention on social media builds the community and people will be made more aware of the changes that need to occur. They then will be more likely to notice such efforts in the future.

Cyclists who visit our website or Facebook page learn about a six-day, 300-mile event in which they can participate to raise money for education as well as grow camaraderie and improve their health. Educators will learn about the scholarships available to them so they can apply for the awards, then use them to benefit their STEM students. Companies or other charitable organizations will learn more about a worthwhile effort to support. The general public can receive both knowledge and inspiration. The goal of our efforts is not only to inform, but to engage. The goal of the organization is not only to reach out to specific communities, but to involve them, and everyone, in a powerful, wide-reaching cause. With your help these aims will be achieved, increasing the impact of an effort that matters not just for today, but also for generations to come.

Cycle for STEM 2014 runs July 13-19 from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. In addition to the full trip, there are four-day and one-day ride options. Visit the website for more information. For more information, including how to participate in training rides, email cycleforstem@afcea.org. We’ll post information on this blog, on our Facebook page and on Twitter at @cycleforstem. Hashtag for social media is #C4STEM.



Adding a Little Fun to Your Day

With our Social Media Olympics in full swing, the guys have been having fun posting mocking, intriguing and informative photos on Facebook. Come follow them around that site. Look for #c4stem in addition to what we post on our main page. Explanations for these photos are on Facebook and they’re often hilarious! Go check them out.

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Cycle for STEM 2014 is an opportunity to hang out with these creative, clever, funny people while improving your health and, perhaps most importantly, raising money for critical STEM education purposes. Please join us as a rider, volunteer, donor or sponsor. Learn more on our website.

For more information about being involved in Cycle for STEM 2014, contact Sean or Terry. We’ll also post information on this blog, on our website, on our Facebook page and on Twitter at @afcea. Hashtag for all social media is #c4stem. Training rides are being planned for anyone in the DC area who would like to practice with other cyclists before the big event. And of course, we’re always looking for donations. You can learn more about sponsorships by emailing cycleforstem@afcea.org.

Play Along in Our Social Media Olympics

Hi everyone! Okay—Olympics might be a wee bit of overstatement, but we do have an intense competition underway with our Cycle for STEM social media. The best part is that YOU can participate in this fun, engaging endeavor. Here’s how it works: four of our core cyclists are competing to be the most active promoters of Cycle for STEM on social media. Each day, Sean McGowan, Matt Kitchin, Terry Rogers and Ben Smith (pictured left to right in the photo), can earn points for various activities on Facebook and Twitter. image

If you’re already following Cycle for STEM on social media, you might notice we’ve gone from three players to four in less than a week. That’s how much fun this is! Why aren’t you playing yet?

Oh. Because you’re not sure how? It’s so simple. First, go to our Facebook page and like it. Then, start sharing content there or even better posting your own content on our page or yours. Just make sure to use #c4stem. Our competitors will be searching for posts with the hashtag to like and share so they can rack up points. You can also see what they post (another way they earn points) to learn more about the ride and supporting education. It’s a giant scavenger hunt for a good cause. Feel free to leave comments encouraging them, either through positive or negative reinforcement. There should be plenty of fodder for clever remarks. Still not convinced? Need additional motivation? How about more comedy? What competition among friends doesn’t breed at least a little trash talking? The best jab each day also wins a point. Sometimes the insults come with graphics. For example, here’s yesterday’s winner:image

Wait, wait, wait. What about Twitter, you might be asking. That’s easy too. Simply put out messages with #c4stem for our guys to find. Plus, follow their postings to enjoy their hilarious hijinks as they train for this summer. Common occurrences include getting covered in mud, falling off their bikes or arguing about whose ride is more difficult.

Thanks for playing along. We can’t wait to start interacting with you and to see what interesting ways you come up with to expand our Social Media Olympics. Hey, biking’s a sport. Just ask France.

For more information about being involved in Cycle for STEM 2014, contact Sean or Terry. We’ll also post information on this blog, on our website, on our Facebook page and on Twitter at @afcea. Hashtag for all social media is #c4stem. Training rides are being planned for anyone in the DC area who would like to practice with other cyclists before the big event. And of course, we’re always looking for donations. You can learn more about sponsorships by emailing cycleforstem@afcea.org.

Freezing Temperatures? Snow? It’s All Part of the Fun with Cycle for STEM.

Thinking about signing up for Cycle for STEM, but you want to wait for the weather to warm up? Don’t! You’re not only depriving yourself of valuable training time, you’re missing out on a lot of fun.

The freezing temperatures and even snowfall have done little to damper the spirits of many of our riders. (Though one did decide to ride indoors on his handy trainer.) And when the weather warmed up for a day, they all racked up some miles.

We’ll keep it short and simple this week and share some images. But make sure to sign up to ride or help in other ways, no matter what Mother Nature has planned. There aren’t many ways to have more fun and help education at the same time! All the riders we feature this week will be doing training rides in the D.C. area throughout the coming months, and you’re welcome to join. Contact Sean McGowan or Terry Rogers for more information by emailing cycleforSTEM@afcea.org.

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Cycle for STEM 2014 runs July 13-19 from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. In addition to the full trip, there are four-day and one-day ride options. Visit the website for more information. If you want to take some training rides, reach out to Chris or anyone else on the AFCEA team to learn when and where to meet. We’ll post information on this blog, on our Facebook page or on Twitter at @afcea. Hashtag for social media is #C4STEM.

Join Cycle for STEM and Change the World

For the last few weeks, the Cycle for STEM team has used this blog to show you the lighthearted side of the big ride in July. We introduced you to some people and hopefully gave you a glimpse into the real fun, fellowship and pride inherent in our team. But this ride has a more concrete and meaningful purpose. It raises awareness of important education issues and funds for scholarships. While seven months until the ride might seem a long time, for us there are only seven months to make this happen. The most important thing we need is you. Participating in the ride itself—or donating time or money to make the event happen—can make a lasting difference to society.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, consider this: a large concern on the national stage right now, which is being explicitly addressed by the White House, is the lack of U.S. students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. These fields are critical to our nation’s security, advancement and place in the world. Our everyday lifestyle, from smartphones to automatic doors, depends on expertise in these areas. Cycle for STEM raises money for scholarships at AFCEA that support educators who teach these subjects.

The ride itself goes for more than 300 miles, starting in Pittsburgh and ending in Washington, D.C., from July 13-19. Riders can participate in the six-, four- or one-day rides. The goal is for each rider to raise money through sponsorships, but no minimum fundraising levels are required. Awareness is another key aim of Cycle for STEM. For people not eager to climb on a bike, volunteers are needed to help support the event . Donations and sponsorships—be they individual or organizational—are (VERY, VERY) gratefully accepted. Corporate sponsors will gain exposure on Cycle for STEM jerseys worn by the riders.

And if you’re still not convinced you can make a difference by taking part in the event, here are some facts from the last year. Two friends and co-workers who wanted to make a difference in education thought up this entire undertaking. Sean McGowan and Terry Rogers lit the spark, and in fewer than six months, Cycle for STEM 2013 took place. It raised more than $20,000 despite having only 10 full-time riders. The first STEM Teaching Tool Grant was handed out in December. A real teacher benefited from funds raised by a handful of determined people who gave their time and effort.

Many of them had no experience with cycling and questionable fitness levels, by their own admission. Dedication and the immense feeling of camaraderie expressed by all participants made it possible. With enough participation, the program can expand to support education in other nations important to the United States’ interests, creating a network of professionals who benefit our society.

This year, there is more time to prepare. More time to train. More time to encourage people to support the event. With luck, there is also enough time to break last year’s fundraising record. We hope you’ll join us. You’ll take part in an opportunity to alter the very knowledge base of the future while taking part in an experience likely to make a difference in your own life as well.

For more information about being involved in Cycle for STEM 2014, contact Sean or Terry. We’ll also post information on this blog, on our website, on our Facebook page and on Twitter at @afcea. Hashtag for all social media is #C4STEM.Training rides are being planned for anyone in the DC area who would like to practice with other cyclists before the big event.

Make Cycle for STEM Your New Year’s Resolution! And Read What Our Riders Say About Their Goals.

Ahhhh, the New Year: time for lists and resolutions of all sorts. Several of our (hard) core Cycle for STEM participants have set some ambitious goals for 2014 leading up to the big ride July 13-19 from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. Check out their plans below for inspiration and motivation. Their stories showcase how Cycle for STEM has a spot for everyone, regardless of fitness and experience levels.

Ben Smith

I will start the year with the Whole30 challenge: 30 days without sugar, dairy and processed foods. I also have ordered a new bike, which should arrive soon. I plan to ride it—a lot. Finally, I’m upgrading some of my other cycling equipment such as my helmet and lights. This way, I can train more safely in the early morning and during inclement weather. As long as I’m going this far, I might also try commuting by bike instead of car a few times during the coming months.

Sean McGowan

I plan to change my training schedule significantly to get ready for the July ride. I just bought a Kurt Kinetic trainer so I can get time in the saddle indoors during the winter.

My goal is to “ride” at least 5-7 hours a week on the trainer and get outside for real rides as often as possible. It’ll be tough though since my kids have sports and other activities on the weekends from now until June. The indoor training is going to be crucial if I hope to enjoy myself on the ride next summer—otherwise, I’ll be suffering big time.

I’d also like to be about 15 pounds lighter for the 2014 ride than I was for the last one, which unfortunately means I now have to lose 20 pounds. That’s not going to be fun. I think I’m also going to get a new bike this spring. That’s an unresolved resolution.

Terry Rogers

My goals for the ride this year range from physical to monetary. This event is about supporting education first and foremost, so my primary three goals focus on raising funds for students and educators. I aim to:

  • Increase overall Cycle for STEM participation by at least 100 percent through better marketing/social media efforts
  • Increase total Cycle for STEM net dollars raised by at least 100 percent
  • Reach $2,500 in personal individual fundraising

My other goals involve fitness and equipment including:

  • Stop being a wimp and do some cold-weather bicycle commuting! Commute at least two days a week in January/February, then three to four days a week March-July. Stop using rain as an excuse not to ride as long as the weather is warm enough.
  • Lose ~20-30 pounds
  • Obtain a new bike sometime this winter/spring. I’ll bring the old one as a backup so that any rider with major mechanical issues can use it to at least finish a day before his/her bike receives the necessary repairs.

Matt Kitchin

I’m pleased with my general fitness level and habits at this point, but I really want to increase my biking miles this year. Specifically, I plan to ride 3241 kilometers (2,014 miles) before Cycle for STEM 2014. (Matt’s Australian and has a fondness for that metric system thing.) I also want to get further afield through cycling and get a look around more of America.

It’s easy to make participation in Cycle for STEM your New Year’s resolution. If you want to ride or donate, visit our official website for more information.

Cycle for STEM 2014 runs July 13-19 from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. In addition to the full trip, there are four-day and one-day ride options. If you want to join in some training rides in the D.C. area, contact Sean or Terry to learn when and where to meet. We’ll also post information on this blog, on our Facebook page and on Twitter at @afcea. Hashtag for all social media is #C4STEM.

You Can Do It! No, Really, You Can.

As AFCEA gears up for its second annual Cycle for STEM ride to raise money and awareness for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, last year’s riders are eager to spread the word about the benefits of participating. Though the goal of the event is to make a real impact on students and teachers, the ride itself is also about fellowship and personal achievement—regardless of ability level.

AFCEA’s own Chris Goegel participated in the 2013 ride despite having almost no prior cycling experience. He bought his first bike in July, giving himself approximately three months to train before hitting the trail. Chris had a strong impetus to participate. His boss, Sean McGowan, is one of the co-founders of Cycle for STEM. To prepare, he rode with Sean and two other association staffers about 15 times. “I really didn’t have much biking experience at all,” Chris explains.

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He felt the impact of his newness to the sport after riding 60 miles uphill the very first day. “It just beat me down,” he says. “I got into bed wondering how I was going to do it again the next day.” Day two featured another grueling agenda, uphill to lunch and again for the first portion of the trail following the meal. “After lunch we were heading to the Continental Divide,” Chris says. “We all left in a group, and I got into a groove where I pedaled steadily at about 12 mph and wouldn’t stop. I needed to get to the top of that hill so I could start going downhill. I was one of the first to arrive.”

Despite the tough start, Chris ranks Cycle for STEM as one of the top experiences of his life and is looking forward to riding again this year, taking more time to look around, enjoy himself and “try not to die.” One of his key motivations through everything? His fellow riders. “It’s the camaraderie with the group,” Chris explains. Riders supported one another through every tough situation, encouraging each other and helping each other out. Each day, they ate lunch and dinner as a group. “That was the best part honestly,” Chris explains. “You make connections you wouldn’t make otherwise. This kind of activity creates an instant bonding.”

Chris strongly encourages cyclists or noncyclists to get involved this year while the event is still relatively small so they can enjoy the same feelings of fellowship. Riding offers a chance to recharge and refocus as well. “You mind is clear,” he says.

Above all else, the greatest motivation for Chris and his fellow riders was the cause they supported with each mile: STEM education.

“While sitting at the final rest stop for the day, 15 miles from our destination, I debated jumping on the support truck for the final stretch. While eating some celery and thinking about all those people that gave their support during my fundraising, and those that would benefit from it, I decided that I’d rather fall over on my bike than give up.”

He knows anyone can make the ride, even if they have doubts. Though some people might not be able to train in the short three-month span he had (the benefit of being in your 20s and a half-marathon runner), the seven-month span leading up to the event in July 2014 means “you can definitely do it,” he states. Anyone in the D.C. area who wants to get involved can email Chris  or Sean to come along on rides scheduled by AFCEA staff. If you’re outside the D.C. area, grab and friend and hit the trail.

Participation in Cycle for STEM has affected Chris’ life overall. Beyond forming new relationships, he has made cycling a part of his regular life, opening up unexpected areas of his community. He takes bike trips around the D.C. area, seeing places inaccessible in other ways. Before, he didn’t even know there was a bike path that followed I-66 almost all the way into the district. “Now, I look over, see the lamp posts and realize what is there,” Chris says. “Biking got to me. I like biking much more than running now.”

His message to anyone considering riding this year is not to be discouraged by the distance or the challenge. He was doubtful at first, but his decision to participate has made a meaningful impact on his own life and the lives of the students and educators the money he raised supports.

Cycle for STEM 2014 runs July 13-19 from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. In addition to the full trip, there are four-day and one-day ride options. Visit the website for more information. If you want to take some training rides, reach out to Chris or anyone else on the AFCEA team to learn when and where to meet. We’ll post information on this blog, on our Facebook page or on Twitter at @afcea. Hashtag for social media is #C4STEM