North Carolina: The first ride

Stats of the ride

Start date: September, 28, 2011
Start: Banner Elk, NC
End: Emerald Isle
Miles: 459+ 
Figure behind the miles: 459 MILLION dollars cut from FY2011-12 state education budget
Days riding: 4 to 5
Hours per day pedaling: 8+
Initial fundraising goal: $8, 529
Figure behind the goal: Average per pupil spending by North Carolina, 2009-10

Amanda Gladin-Kramer bought her first road bike and began cycling in May of 2011 as a way to cross train for long distance running and enjoy the quiet country roads of North Carolina. She quickly became addicted and began exploring the numerous opportunities out there for cyclists, including the many group rides devoted to fundraising for multiple sclerosis and other diseases. Inspired, she began to think about a cause that she wanted to ride for. There answer was immediate: education.

In North Carolina, 476 million dollars were cut from the state education budget(1), creating a cascade of cuts to teaching positions and even litigation about the budget's impact on early childhood programming and the constitutional right to a sound, basic education. North Carolina ranks 44th nationally in teacher pay(2) and 46th nationally in per pupil spending(3). These low rankings existed before the FY11 budget. No one can say the status quo of public education in North Carolina has been anywhere near good enough, and today even the tenuous quality of the status quo is endangered. Educating our children well and equitably isn't just the right thing to do, it's essential to North Carolina's future prosperity. Every family that wants to leave a better state - and world - behind for their children must think about the education of every child.

Amanda will start pedaling in Banner Elk, North Carolina on September 28, 2011. She will ride 100+ hard miles a day with the goal of reaching the coast by the evening of October 2nd. 476 miles, a mile for every dollar cut from the education budget. She will carry her supplies for the day, stopping at convenience stores for the food she needs, sleeping a few hours a night, and starting early the next morning. No pace car will follow her, but she will have company and a ride to a cheap hotel in the evening (thanks Mom!). This is a grueling solo ride symbolic of the way far too many children experience school: unsupported, lost, overwhelmed, wandering from hallway to classroom, slipping through the cracks. We can do better.

It's not all dismal. There are wonderful organizations in North Carolina doing great work, creating programs that make schools better, help students learn, and lighting the way for the future. This ride is for them. Every pedal stroke asks you - individuals, businesses, parents, former students who benefited from and struggled with public school - to step up and support the work of the nonprofits featured by this first BIKE ride across North Carolina. Every dollar makes public education better now and sends the message of what we want for the future.

Along the way, Amanda will post updates on her training in preparation for the cross-state ride and share stories about public education in North Carolina. Please follow along, explore the site to learn about the supported organizations, share this with your friends, and donate. Any amount is appreciated. Our initial fundraising goal is $8,529. That's how much North Carolina spends per pupil on education(4). We spend far more per prisoner in the state jails. It's a drop in the bucket of what's needed. It's an amount we can come together to achieve. Let's at least inject the dollars the state is willing to put behind one student into supporting the nonprofits that work every day to make education better. $8,529 divided amongst several organizations isn't a lot. But it's money that will help them keep the lights on another day, invest in developing a new idea or project, and keep working to make schools better places for students.

$8,529. That's just the beginning. 


Many thanks to the wonderful Cycle North Carolina folks for sharing cue sheets and route information.