2010 was our first year of farming. Our initial fundraiser brough in a close to $1,500, and by the end of the year, we successfully raised over $6,000 through financial and in-kind donations, thanks to the kind support of multiple organizations, businesses and individuals around the country.

This past winter, we were hard at work figuring out what our 2011 fundraiser ought to be. Should we do another raffle? Should we apply for grants to have money for spring? We threw those all aside, and in November, 2010, opted to throw a 60 mile bike ride.

To us, our efforts are at best an adaptation of community supported agriculture in an urban setting. Our organization exists solely because of the support of the community at large. What fuels our effort is to pioneer ways in which non-traditional thinking can lead to something magnificent and help pave the way for new ideas to become actions.

With that in mind, we realized that a fundraising bike ride would be the perfect way to launch into the 2011 growing season. The plan went like this: $10 registration locks you in a rider, and as a supporting rider, one must raise a minimum of $60 in donations (roughly $1 per mile). The ride was scheduled for March 5, 2011 at 9 AM.

In mid December, we launched registration, and by late January, we had already reached our cap of 100 riders, with a number of additional folks on a waiting list.

The next couple of months, we had teams of folks throwing their own mini-fundraisers, from throwing a Soup Derby to handcrafting bike-themed Valentines day cards, from animal themed cookies in bake sales, to leveraging free advertising on websites run by registered cyclists.

After checking daily weather reports for the two weeks before the ride, March 5th finally rolled around and we were greeted with sunshine — after weeks of rain, snow, hail, this was a welcoming sign of what would turn out to be a wonder day ahead of ourselves.

In total, 85 registered riders were able to make the event. We met up at the Good Shepherd Church, right across from our farm on 22nd & Union and enjoyed pre-ride bike yoga and nibbles sponsored by Whole Foods.

After registration, a quick recap of the route, ride and safety, we launched. The route looped us around Lake Washington, with rest stops at Seward Park, Gregg’s Cycles in Bellevue, lunch at the Kirkland Arts Center, and one final resting point at Log Boom Park in Kenmore. After 60 miles of pushing it real good, everyone wound up at Tougo Coffee on 18th & Union for the post-ride dinner, beer & networking.

Looking back, we wish the day would have never ended. Though there were a few kinks in the plans (damn printers and cue sheets!), overall the event was a success. Thanks to everyone who participated, we were able to raise over $15,000 — 10 times the amount we raised in 2010!

We cannot thank everyone enough who participated. 60 miles is no easy task, especially for those of us who are casual commuters — or for that matter, those of us who haven’t ridden a bike in years. But together, we did in fact ride hard. And looking back, 60 miles is cake, ain’t it?

Extra thanks go to all of our sponsors who believe in what we are doing and made the event possible: Bike So Good, Bogs, Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, Chrome Bags, Dry Soda, Field Notes, Full Tilt Ice Cream, Frog Box, Grand Central Baking, Gregg’s Cycles, KIND Snacks, KC Metro, Kirkland Arts Center, Mighty O Donuts, Nau Clothing, Nuun, Octopus Caps, Outlier, Red Ants Pants, Salish Sea Trading Cooperative, Seattle Tilth, Sound Physical Therapy, Stumptown Coffee, Tougo Coffee, United Health Group, Urban Bee Company and Zipcar.

Additional kudos to the community and governmental groups who supported us and helped us spread the word: Beacon Bikes, Bike Works, City Fruit, Seattle Bike Blog, SDOT, Spokespeople, Sustainable Seattle, Undriving, Urban Farm Hub and Walk Bike Ride.

It is because of you that it is possible for a small, grassroots organization to grow forth. Our next ride? We’ll do it 10 times better. Promise.

See you on the streets (and the farms!)

High fives & heriloom tomatoes,

Alleycat Acres

PS – for more photos of the event, check ’em out here: Flickr/Ride Hard