SOS: Falling Back in Love With Charity Rides.

By Katie Macarelli
A few weeks ago I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to drive to Vail for the 12th annual SOS River Ride. It's been years since I've done a charity ride. I did them often as a beginner cyclist, but as I started racing, I found that training for the long rides didn't mesh well with racing crits. This summer I happily put this train of thought aside and just did rides that sounded fun. Ride director, Seth Ehrlich made this ride sound FUN to me over the phone. And he was right. It was fun!

I forgot what a wide range of people you get to interact with on charity rides. There were over 100 good-natured volunteers, families riding together, smoking fast teams, as well as those happily crawling along at a touring pace. There were 740 participants for this year's ride. Some wearing this year's SOS jersey, but all wearing smiles (well, at some points, grimaces).

And there was plenty of reason to smile. In addition to the perfect conditions, both with weather and the road, this year's annual SOS ride made roughly $35,000 for the SOS Outreach. What is SOS? Here's what Seth Ehrlich had to say:

"SOS Outreach was founded in 1993 in Colorado’s Vail Valley as the Snowboard Outreach Society, with a group of snowboarders who wanted to expose underprivileged youth to the mountains and the sport of snowboarding. Since its founding, SOS has expanded across individual winter sports to include skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing while incorporating a youth development curriculum.

The goal of SOS Outreach's programs is to increase resiliency in at-risk youth. Each of the SOS programs offers a value-based leadership curriculum that enhances the experiences for students by promoting self-respect, positive relationships, social skills, and positive values all while participating in an outdoor adventure sport. During program days students discuss and discover the meaning of the SOS Five Core Values, while learning a new sport like snowboarding, hiking, paddle boarding, or backpacking with positive adult role models.

Today SOS serves 5,000 youth nationwide through adventure sports, adult mentoring and community engagement. Its mission is to inspire kids to make positive decisions for more "SOS Outreach partners with 150 youth agencies and schools nationally to recruit and identify participants who will benefit the most from our programs. We identify youth based on individual, family and academic related risk factors. The overall goal of our participants is to
recruit participants who are not on pace to graduate high school and to put them on a path toward the successful completion of high school."
-Seth Ehrlich

A few more stats from Seth:

  • The youngest rider was 12 and the oldest was 77
  • Bill Walton, NBA MVP and Champion finished the 68 mile route and loved it
  • We had our first two hand cyclists finish the full 100 mile route

It's not too late to donate to a great cause. I'm guilty of taking my ability to ride and enjoy the outdoors for granted. But many kids aren't so lucky. Click here to learn more and/or donate: Colorado Gives for SOS Outreach.I for one, will definitely be back next year for the 13th annual ride. 20 miles of buttery smooth dirt roads. Delicious.

News Item: