In Kelly’s Words – A behind-the-scenes look at the Kelly Brush Ride
Have you ever thought about what it takes to put on an event like the Kelly Brush Ride? Since it has grown so organically over the last 12 years and I’ve lived it, I never thought about people’s interest in how we do what we do.
The other day I realized that one of our new staff members, Stephanie, has been doing the ride for years with her brother who has a spinal cord injury, but didn’t really know what it was like to plan the event. She’d never seen it from that side. So I thought it might be interesting to give everyone that perspective.
We have come a long way. Early on we had no idea how many people were coming, how much water we needed, what food we needed, etc. One year we ran out of water – a mistake we never made again! Today we have a pretty good formula that we’ve created over the years, trying to use every change or major decision to make it better. We track whether we’re improving or not by doing a post ride survey (which, if you rode, you can take here >). Hopefully we continue to get better every year!
I’ll walk you through the week leading up to the Kelly Brush Ride:
Monday is Labor Day, which we try to take off.
Tuesday and Wednesday are spent organizing boxes that will go to every water stop, filled with things like food, paper towels, Gatorade, etc., driving around and picking up banners from all of our sponsors, and making final pushes for fundraising, registration, and social media posts to promote the ride. I also typically go on a local radio show on the Wednesday morning before the Ride. I’ve built a pretty fun rapport with the hosts, so I’m much less nervous than I used to be!
On Thursday we load all of the vans. Each of the 5 water stops has a van that has everything the volunteers need so they can just show up, set up, and then pack back up. There are tents, tables, chairs, a wheelchair (for handcyclists to use the port-a-let when they are in their handcycle and their wheelchair is back at the start), trash cans, bike pumps, first aid supplies, etc.
Friday is when it starts to get fun. It starts with a coordinated caravan of volunteers (more on that in a second) to Middlebury dropping the vans at each water stop along the way so that they are there and ready for the volunteers to set up the water stops on Saturday. In Middlebury we meet the Middlebury College Ski Team at the start and they help us set up the entire start/finish area. With many hand it’s light work – I feel very grateful for their help. They also help us break down the start/finish area on Saturday evening.
Saturday (Ride day!) is always a whirlwind, but in the best way. We get there around 5:30-6am and leave around 6pm. I get to talk to so many people who are doing the Ride, both old friends and people I’m meeting for the first time. There are many people who I see there every year, some who have done it every year or nearly every year since the start. It’s great to be out there with other handcyclists. You get to compare notes, see other equipment, and I get to learn from some incredible athletes. The ski world is very well represented between ski academies, people from US Ski and Snowboard, masters racers, and ex-racers from many different era’s (my era of skiing probably being the most represented) – it is so much fun to see so many friends in the same place! But by the time Saturday night rolls around, I’m exhausted!
But every year when I’m sitting at home feeling completely exhausted I also feel incredibly energized about what we have accomplished and how many people feel what we are doing is important. It always inspires me do it again next year and to find more ways to make the ride even better.
As for the volunteers I mentioned. We really couldn’t even come close to pulling this off without the 80+ volunteers who help make it happen. But I want to take a second to specifically thank the incredible people at Summit Property Management in South Burlington. Summit is a family business in so many ways. My father, sister, and brother-in-law all work there. When the KBF started, we were run out of their office, and all the employees have become an extended family. They are there helping on each day of my timeline above (and have been for 12 years!), doing both fun and tedious tasks. They truly make this event happen, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thanks guys!
With another Kelly Brush Ride in the books, we can finally exhale. It’s our job in the next few weeks to make sure everyone involved knows how appreciative and grateful we are for the donations, time, commitments, and energy they’ve put into the Ride. And if that includes you, let me be the first (or second) to say THANK YOU!
Dylan’s words continue to explode. It seems like she has new words every day or at least things that she is trying to say. I can tell, though, that she has started to have more desires and opinions and her words just aren’t there yet to express them so she’s getting more frustrated. She’s become a bit more whiney because of this which is kind of frustrating for Zeke and me. I know I just need to keep in mind how much more frustrating it is for Dylan!
She also started a new daycare a couple weeks ago. We liked our old daycare but had some reasons we wanted to switch. I was amazed at how sad I was to be leaving her original daycare and the providers who love her so much there. She also is now crying every time I drop her off which is sad for me, though I know this is a phase and she probably would have done it around this age no matter where she goes. I think we are going to be happy with our new daycare though, fingers crossed!