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Of Hills and Bikes, Part 1

The Texas Hill Country. Truer words were never spoken. There are a million obvious reasons why this terrain is not called the “Perfectly Flat and Level” country or the “Don’t sweat it dude, it’s all downhill” country. These reasons all have to do with the multitude of hills that dot this stretch of Central Texas. There are probably more hills per capita than beads at Mardi Gras or soccer balls in Brazil.  As it concerns cycling, a million hills might seem an unnatural habitat for a bike. The hard reality is that riding up and down in endless progressions can really make the legs cranky and surly. Cycling and hills would thus appear to be an incompatible marriage, a union surely destined for separation quicker than fools and their money. But Lo! There is instead bi-pedal harmony here of the two and three-wheeled variety. Central Texas is in fact a cycling hotbed.

This is a 360-illustration of a cycling team at the 2019 Tour de Boerne.  Spin it around with your mouse (on a computer) or with your finger (mobile device)

In 2019 a number of cycling enthusiasts in the Texas Hill Country town of Boerne (pronounced “Bernie”) began putting two and two together and the numbers totaled “Bike Ride.” This is to say, they sensed if they organized a community bike outing and plied participants with one of Creation’s most glorious expressions (Hill Country smoked BBQ) cyclists would come roaring out to cycle. And boy howdy were they right. The event they envisioned has become the Tour de Boerne. This is a June morning bike ride for cyclists of all levels that is set against a magnificent natural backdrop, and culminates with enough BBQ that would have fed Patton’s Third Army as it raced across France.

The cycling proponents go by the names of Mike Bertuzzi, Richard Meneses, and Mark Rohde. Beginning in 2018 a series of events brought the trio together and they began to ruminate about their shared interest in cycling.  The topic of a localized bike event soon came up, and then like a barrage of bottle rockets the “What If?” really started to fly. “What if there was a bike riding event in Boerne?” became the rhetorical question of the day to be followed by others such as “What if the proceeds go to local charities?” The “What ifs?” were soon joined by their first-cousins the “How Cans?,” as in “How can we make this happen?” and “How can we get the support that we need?”

Now it’s one thing to intuit a tremendous opportunity (Point A) but it is something altogether different to make it actually happen (Point Z).  The engine that typically propels the merger of Points A and Z together goes by the acronym GOYA (military members and vets get fidgety if they go 10 seconds without employing an acronym).  GOYA is a Get Off Your Ass-itude.  Rather than a pejorative, GOYA is the awesome mentality of self-starters with the gumption for getting something done, simply because there is something that needs to get done. Those with GOYA recognize a problem, challenge, or opportunity when they see it. Their actions afterwards become predictable.  They proceed to rise like the summer sun in first designing a plan to confront the issue, and second in executing the hell out of the same plan. The fact that things even happen at all on Planet Earth is because of people with GOYA.

As invaluable as a GOYA-centric person obviously is, what if there is a whole team infused with GOYA at the disposal? A collection of go-getters with an intense predisposition to go and get? The challenge never stands a chance, almost to a laughable degree. You almost feel sorry for the soon-to-be overmatched, would-be obstacles. The three organizers of the Tour de Boerne made a lot of great decisions, but perhaps the best one was enlisting the assistance of Knights of Columbus Council 1040 and Catholic Daughters of The Americas (CDA) Court #2690.

Both the Knights and its counterpart CDA are two service groups whose Boerne chapters are comprised of parishioners from St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church. In addition to the draw of social fellowship, members are enticed to participate in charitable works and community-building. Both groups tap into the natural talents of their memberships, but most important is their capacity to mobilize participation. This is their secret weapon, the X Factor as it were.  If any group can get a large number of members to show up and pitch in, then mountains everywhere are prime for the moving. In most cases, the men of the Knights of Columbus and the ladies of the CDA mutually assist each other’s events. Where you find one, you’ll typically find the other. Everyone loves a “Two for One” deal, especially when it comes with a skilled, inventive labor force ready to hunt into extinction any problem-set foolish enough to spring from its lair. One is left with the impression that if President John F. Kennedy had given the Knights and CDA billions of dollars back in the early 1960’s, they too would have found a way to get people to the moon.  As members of the Knights of Columbus themselves, Bertuzzi, Meneses, and Rohde knew exactly where to turn.


To Be Continued ….

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