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A Bicycle Food Drive


Cranksgiving 2006 in St. Louis


(c) Patrick Van de Tuin/Bikeworks

Q: What do you get when you cross bicycling with a charity food drive?


First started by New York City bike messengers in 1999, the Cranksgiving tradition has spread across the country, with events held in Los Angeles; Chicago; St. Louis; Madison, WI; and Des Moines, Iowa, among others. What happens at a Cranksgiving ride is that cyclists gather at some designated start point where they are given a shopping list of specific items needed by a local food pantry, plus a map of stores along a specific route from which to buy these items.

Off they go in a race (or fun, relaxed ride) to purchase the items and bring them back. Riders purchase the items themselves, which is where the charity part comes in, and have to be prepared to carry them back.

A typical shopping list will have a dozen or two items, and maybe set back the riders $10-20. It's a terrific way to kick off the holiday season and be out on your bike, doing something good with the community alongside your fellow cyclists. Plus, it's an early start on burning off all the calories you'll be inhaling during November and December.

If there is not an organized Cranksgiving ride where you live, consider starting one. It's easy to do. All you need is riders and a route that takes you past a couple of stores. The length of the route is up to you. You can consider a long route for more enthusiastic riders and a shorter one for people who have kids or just prefer a shorter ride. Then off they go to purchase the items and then meet up at an ending point (perhaps the food pantry itself) where the donated items are collected.

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