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Riding Toward Change

Charity bike events offer many incredible benefits, not the least of which is bringing people together towards a common goal: making a difference. No matter how you choose to get involved, the Cape offers plenty of opportunities and the perfect scenic backdrop for affecting change. 

There’s just something special about riding a bike. It’s a shared memory so many people have: that first day the training wheels came off…how you were scared but someone was there to catch you. Your first pedal strokes propelling you forward into a world of freedom you hadn’t experienced before, the wind in your hair and miles to go in front of you. It’s hard to stop, harder still to forget those sweet seconds of pure independence and uninhibited exhilaration. Even if you can’t put it into words, even if you’ve never been on a bike yourself, it’s a feeling that is just innate. Now, riding for a cause? Pedaling towards a purpose? That’s something.

Charity bike rides present so many incredible benefits, for riders, volunteers, and beneficiaries alike, and what better location for such an event than Cape Cod? There’s a reason that the region has become famous for its coastal serenity; beautiful beaches and sprawling sand dunes abound, and vacationers certainly find no shortage of reasons to visit. Enjoying that natural splendor by bike seems like a no brainer—with the added benefit of dodging summer traffic. There are plenty of meaningful ways to get involved—maybe even to make a life-saving difference—and enjoy a little slice of Cape Cod while you’re at it.

“I think my favorite part is the starting line. Everyone’s happy; you can’t go 55 miles with a bad attitude,” says Aimee Guthinger, events and marketing manager for the Greater Hyannis Chamber of Commerce and ride manager for The Gasp: Bike, Bake ‘N Boat, an annual charity biking event produced by the Barnstable Charitable Foundation. The fall event was originally known as The Last Gasp in honor of “The Last Gasp” hill in Truro. “It’s pretty steep,” notes Guthinger. “Everyone has a different strategy for how to take the turn and make it up the hill.” Founded by Bill Murphy, The Gasp, now in its 29th year, is an annual ride from Sandwich to Provincetown supporting a number of local charities. Participants in this charity bike ride enjoy a scenic trip down Route 6A and the Cape Cod Rail Trail that culminates in a lobster boil in Provincetown and a harbor cruise back to Sandwich. 

“For us, it’s really about how The Gasp has transformed over the last few years,” says Guthinger. “In 2019, we had over 100 volunteers, 175 participants, and $173,072 in donations for eight beneficiaries and four alliance partners.”

The Gasp operates an alliance program. “Nonprofit organizations are welcome to join The Gasp in one of two ways,” explains Guthinger, “as a primary beneficiary or as an alliance partner. These are usually organizations that may not have the resources to put together a full team in their first years. They essentially piggyback the primary beneficiary. This allows us to open up the opportunity to organizations of all sizes.” Primary beneficiaries collect 100 percent of their proceeds. Alliance partners collect 70 percent of their proceeds and their primary beneficiary is given the extra 30 percent, giving the primary beneficiary incentive to support their partner as well as the opportunity to raise more funds.  “The Gasp is a much larger event than any one organization would be able to handle,” explains Guthinger. “So, through collaborative partners, we’ve created an event that can support everybody.” 2020 beneficiaries include WE CAN, Latham Centers, Champ Homes, Barnstable Charitable Foundation, Cape Cod Literacy Council,  and Community Development Partnership, among others. The Gasp has also been pleased to welcome several corporate teams throughout the years. In 2019, Team Cape Cod Five and Team COOP supported the ride while creating a stronger team at work too.

“Tens of thousands of local Cape Cod residents are indirectly impacted by the funds raised in The Gasp,” says Guthinger. “In consulting with our beneficiaries we have determined that roughly 650 of those people directly benefited in 2019 because of this ride.” Teams and individual riders can choose the organizations they would like to support, or spread their fundraising out amongst all of the beneficiaries. The event began allowing e-assist bikes in 2019, which provide electronic momentum, giving those who need it an extra boost. Additionally, “Baker” tickets give participants the opportunity to build a team around non-riders. “It’s a ride for everybody and every body,” says Guthinger.

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