Thursday, December 1, 2011

Post Cranksgiving Interview

After holding the first Cranksgiving in Philadelphia, Gary and CJ took the time to answer some questions about how and why they created this event, what they have learned and plans for the 2012 Cranksgiving. 

1) What was your inspiration for creating a Cranksgiving Ride in Philadelphia?
Gary: Our introduction to Cranksgiving was in York, PA in 2007 while CJ was attending Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. Since both of us have an interest in cycling, he told me about the race, and so we went out and did it! It turns out this race was the first one being run in York. It was actually started by Tone, a former messenger from New York City who had moved to York and brought the tradition, running in New York City since 1999, with him! After having so much fun doing the race out in York for the past 4 years, and with CJ no longer going to school in Lancaster, we decided to bring the race to a common ground, Philadelphia. Unfortunately, hunger is a problem in many major metropolitan areas around the world, with Philly being one of them. The city is very lucky to have a great advocacy group like Philabundance, which made us proud to be able to support them with Cranksgiving!

CJ: I remember a lot of posts on various bike blogs around Thanksgiving about this bike race, "Cranksgiving". I found the national site (, and found out that York was having one! Since I went to school only about a half hour away, it seemed like a no-brainer to participate. I called up Gary, since we had gotten into cycling together, and he made the drive down. We had a lot of fun, and met the organizer, Tone, an ex-NYC messenger that had started the whole Cranksgiving tradition in New York in 1999. Turns out he had moved to York, PA earlier that year to settle down, but couldn't resist bringing Cranksgiving with him. That was back in 2007. Since then, every year, we had made the drive over to York to participate. And every year, Gary says, "We should really start one in Philly next year!" I bugged him about it a lot this year, because honestly, I didn't want to make the 2 hour drive to York. What better way to get around that than to have our own ride? No, but really....We definitely wanted to spread the Cranksgiving spirit. Tone had provided us with a lot of pointers and suggestions from his 10+ years of organizing Cranksgivings, so it actually seemed like a very do-able thing. I encourage anyone who is thinking about starting one in their own city to DO IT!
2) How many people participated?
Gary: In our first year, we had about 15 people who participated. Next year (2012) we are hoping to more than double that!
3) How many pounds of food were donated?
Gary: We collected 167lbs of food. The manifest specified six different food items to be collected, and the winner of the "Most Charitable" prize brought in 10 extra items!
4) With the temperatures in the 60's it was like spring. What is your secret for having such good weather the day of the ride?
Gary: As far as weather, we could not have been more lucky. In years past in York, PA, temperatures had been in the low 30's, which was brutal! Hopefully next year mother nature is just as friendly to us as this year.
5) Was there anything that stood out during the ride?
Gary: The nicest thing about the day, other than the fact that we collected close to 200lbs of food, was how nice the weather was. Also, the Philadelphia Marathon was the same day and snaked around Center City, and we got lucky with the timing of that event and how it coincided with the start of ours. Fortunately, the amount of interference between the two was minimal. Although, some of our riders ended up not being able use certain routes because they were still blocked off. All part of the challenge!
6) What was the most challenging thing you had to do to plan this ride?
Gary: As with any event like this, the most challenging thing was promotion. Unfortunately, we got a bit of a late start getting things together, so that made getting the word out tough. Most of the other planning, such as arranging the stores and items to be purchased, as well as arranging sponsors and collecting the prizes, went fairly smoothly.
7) If you could change something for the 2012 Cranksgiving what would it be?
Gary: A couple of things really. First... start planning earlier! We definitely could have gotten the word out to more people, as well as collected more/better prizes for the participants. We also have been thinking about a few tweaks in the way we'll be running the race. Finally, after doing the race for the first year, we learned a lot about a number of logistical issues that come with running an event, and we definitely have a lot we can apply to next years event.

CJ: Promotion, promotion, promotion. I want everyone to know about it! Get organized earlier, make up all the materials sooner, contact more sponsors, and just make sure that more people come out.
8) What kind of assistance do you need for 2012 and how can people contact you to help?
Gary: Tell your friends! Obviously we have the internet at our disposal for promoting the event via Facebook, message boards, etc... but the best way to get the word out there is just to tell your friends! This race is great because it's very laid back, the format of the race is a lot of fun, it's a great way to get involved with your community, and it supports an awesome cause. All that being said, we look forward to seeing you out there next year!

CJ: Just participate! And tell everyone! Post it on your Facebook, your cycling blog, your Myspace (hah), anything. Really, the great thing about Cranksgiving is that there is minimal preparation compared to other races and rides. The only other thing that we could use help with is sponsorship. It's always nice to have stuff to give out to riders. Of course, prizes take a backseat to the real purpose of this ride, which is to benefit a charity and help those less fortunate. Doing a good deed should be an award in itself! But anyways, if anyone needs to get a hold of us, we can be reached at: Soon we'll have an updated website with results and photos and everything, as well as post info for next year as it gets closer, but until then, send us an email and we'll definitely get back to you!

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