(Editor's note: John Burke is the president of Trek Bikes. I've been mulling over an idea in my head for a couple of weeks, so I decided to send him an email describing my wild notion. I saw somewhere that he reads all his emails; I'll let you know if I hear back from him.)
Dear Mr. Burke:
As I'm sure you might have seen, Bicycling magazine had a recent cover story on Leo Rodgers, an inspirational cyclist from Florida who lost his left leg years ago in a motorcycle accident. An outgrowth of that wonderful article is the fact that Rodgers has landed lifestyle sponsorships. And that's my reason for writing to you, as I believe Trek Bikes would benefit from such a program.
A great deal of effort is made to get — and keep — people on bicycles. While the coronavirus pandemic is truly a catastrophic event, one of the few positives to emerge has been the resurgence of bicycle ridership. So let's keep up the momentum for cycling with "lifestyle ambassadors" spreading the word. Cycling is so participatory; everything should be done to encourage it. And I think the messaging is best served by utilizing everyday cyclists — people like myself.
I'm 67 years old and, on average, I ride 5,000 miles per season. I've participated in 22 event centuries, having not done my first one until I was 49. While I've done some bike touring in England and France in the early '80s, my big achievement came in 2002 when I pedaled solo from North Carolina to Texas on a Trek 2200. And I have another big challenge planned for next summer, as I hope to ride from Maine to Michigan to attend my 50th high school reunion. I will be cruising on a 2020 Trek 920.
Just like many others, my love affair with bikes started when I was a kid, cycling to grade school in rural Michigan. An article I did for Maine Cyclist, a magazine published by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, I believe best describes my feelings about the bike. In part, I wrote ...
"I remember sitting in class, the anticipation building throughout the day; freedom was idling outside at my school’s lone bike rack. When the last bell sounded, I was more than eager to blast off on my bike. I couldn’t run fast enough to feast my eyes on my red-and-white Skyrider.
Jumping on the seat brought pure joy. Joining other kids who rode to school added to the merriment. Leaving behind those unfortunate schoolmates who had to wait for buses, we cranked our pedals so fast our legs could hardly keep up. We dashed through our little farming village, splintering off one-by-one as we each headed to our separate homes."
I see no need for any monetary arrangements in serving as an ambassador. Maybe participants could test Trek products from time to time, but more importantly, your company could provide a link between Trek's followers and people like me — those of us who love to ride bikes — to help keep cycling spinning in the right direction.
If you believe this proposal has any merit, I look forward to hearing from you. However, if this email serves only one purpose, I would greatly appreciate it if you would please visit my cycling blog at www.pedal2page.com and check out my "lifestyle" on a bike.
Thank you for your time.