Saturday, August 4, 2012

7 Dollars in 42 Miles

Which, all things considered, is pretty good.

It was a pretty warm one today--probably one of the warmest days we've had all summer. I set out on the trail headed south. I didn't encounter my first "Thanks for Wearing a Helmet" recipient until just south of Rainier, which was about 14 miles into the ride. It's not that there were kids without helmets, there just weren't any kids out on the trail. There were lots of adults and I'd say about 3/4 of them were wearing helmets (pretty good). As I passed an older couple, I told them thanks for wearing a helmet. They responded with, "Of course!".

Anyway, as I was headed to Yelm from Rainier, I came across a little girl with her mom. Since the little girl had a helmet on (mom was walking), I stopped and pulled out a dollar with a "Thanks for Wearing a Helmet" card. Mom asked if I was with Rotary (I had one of my Courage Classic, sponsored by Rotary, jerseys on). I told her no, this was just my little campaign to reward kids for making smart choices. Both mom and daughter thanked me and I continued on.

I rode the rest of the way to Yelm without seeing any more kids on the trail. I even got off and did one of the neighborhood loops, but no kids were out.

I took some rural roads back from Yelm and returned to the trail about a half mile or so from Rainier. As I was passing the picnic shelter next to the trail in Rainier, I saw two boys in the shelter with bikes. They were both wearing helmets, so I rode over to them and gave them each a dollar and card. They both said thanks and I said, " No, thank YOU for wearing helmets!". They looked to be 10 or 11, the age where being cool is everything!

Just past the junction of the Yelm-Tenino Trail and Chehalis Western I saw a young kid coming toward me. He had a helmet on, so I said, "Hey kid, you want a dollar?" As he went flying past, he said, "No thanks." (I think I have better success not asking if they want a dollar.) In this kid's case, he was in full kit, on a road bike (albeit a small one), out of the saddle, hammering the pedals. He wasn't taking time to stop for anything (maybe he is a future Olympian in the making). He is clearly sold on wearing a helmet. Still, I hollered after him, "Thanks for wearing a helmet!"

A few miles further down the trail, I stopped two teenage boys. One of the boys thought he knew me. He had a Boy Scout Troop 48 t-shirt on so, in theory, he could have known me, but he didn't. However, he knows my boys. Anyway, I told them I stopped them because they were wearing helmets. I gave them each their dollar. They looked a bit baffled, but said thanks. I told them I bet it's not often someone gives them money when they are out riding!

My last two recipients were two little boys, about 4 or so, who were in the Horizon Point Park. They were quite enthusiastic about getting a dollar each. I told the older girl who was with them that I would have given her one too if she had been wearing a helmet. She said she didn't have one. That's when I wish I carried extra helmets. However, there are programs available in the community for very low-cost helmets.

So, 7 dollars in 42 miles isn't too bad considering the heat and the miles I spent on rural roads. So far, my "Thanks for Wearing a Helmet" campaign has had an overwhelmingly positive response. It's also fun to see the looks on the kids faces when I hand them a dollar JUST for wearing a helmet!

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