Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In Which Argent Symbolizes a Club

MMU Bike Club Prez gives trail map to student who is leaning over the seat of my bike.

I would like to think it that it’s all due to Argent, my cool new bike, but clearly Mark’s granola bars feature in the story, too.

Anyway, Tuesday, Mount Mercy University held an “Involvement Fair” to attract new students to the many clubs and organizations that exist on campus. I was there, for two reasons. As I wrote on one of my other blogs, I am the faculty adviser to the student newspaper, the MMU Times.

I’m also the faculty adviser to the relatively new bike club. To make it convenient to promote both, and so that my delicate skin would be unharmed by the spectacular radiation spewed out by the nearest star, I arrived at the Rohde Family Plaza about 30 minutes before the fair. I noticed that some tables were already staked out, but I managed to secure two adjacent ones in the shade for the newspaper and the bike club.

I had posters that I had printed for the paper, but Mark, the bike club’s president, was taking care of the bike club display. I taped my newspaper posters to one table—but, how could I reserve the other?

For a few minutes, while I hightailed it back to Warde Hall, I parked a newspaper staff member, Anna, at a table. Then, I locked a bike to it (the table, not Anna). Nobody else would take the table then!

My evil plan worked well. The writers and the bikers co-existed at adjacent tables. And I left the bike locked there during the fair. Although students had to lean across it to sign up for bike club information, they didn't seem to mind—and the MMU mascot, Mustang Sally, even posed with Argent, as you can see.

Mustang Sally has a fast bike. You better slow that mustang down ...

Mark whipped up a nice quick display on a poster board, which he had to tape flat on the table (lots of wind). It featured some photos I posted to Facebook of some early club rides last spring, one of them a grinning “ussie” of me and some students who are going on one of the rides.

“Look,” said Mark. “Joe is smiling! It’s a miracle!”

Mark is not a communication student. Clearly he has no fear of CR Biker.

Anyway, the MMU Bike Club seems off to a great start this year, all due to Mark’s enthusiasm and energy. The club will host a Club Friday at MMU soon (the MMU web site says Sept. 4, but that’s really, really soon and Mark hadn’t heard anything about it, so I’m not 100 percent sure how soon). The club members are already planning to host weekly bike rides, and I hope they start soon and that I can join them most of the time on either Argent or Francis.

But, it was good that I had ridden Argent yesterday. Francis is a bigger bike with bulging back bags and a big metal Wicked Witch basket in front—students would have had a much harder time leaning over Francis to sign up for the club!

How many signed up? I don’t’ know for sure, but more than the 20 who signed up for the newspaper—and the newspaper had a pretty good haul.

So what is next for the Mount Mercy Bike Club? I still haven’t spoken much with Mark about my idea for a club service project. My idea is to plant weeds.

Adult Monarch--female, I believe. Males have extra black dots on wings.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife photo by Tina Shaw. From

Monarch butterflies have been in the news a lot lately—a local group gave out Milkweed seeds during RAGBRAI to help save the butterfly, since Milkweed is the only plant Monarch caterpillars will eat. There have been other Monarch-related efforts recently, as you can read here and here.

Anyway, I would propose that the club adopt the Monarch as its unofficial mascot, and that we promote planting Milkweed at MMU and along local bike trails. That would lead to an easy-to-organize multi-year service effort. We could start, for example, by planning and planting a butterfly garden at MMU and in later years partner with Trees Forever or some other group to spread Milkweed along the Cedar River Trial or even the new CEMAR Trail. We could also give out Milkweed seeds or plants at future Club Fridays.

Monarch baby on Milkweed. Another FWS image,
this one by Courtney Celley.
The Monarch Butterfly needs our help because habitat loss in Mexico and the eradication of Milkweed in Midwest farm fields are cutting out its ecological niche—and biking seems to me to be an activity people engage in partly because they like being outside and like to enjoy the natural world. Monarch butterflies certainly make that natural world a more attractive place. In fact, Milkweed also makes the outdoors more pleasant, as long as you don’t play with the volatile sap. Milkweed should be renamed “Butterfly Flower” because it’s a hardy, attractive, flowering native plant.

In any case, it’s up to the students if they want to promote Milkweed for the sake of Monarchs or want to do something else as a club service project. Certainly there are lots of other bike-related service ideas, such as promoting bike safety or fund-raising for trails, which could be taken on.

Well, CR Biker does have a smile on his face. It was a good fair—for the Bike Club and the newspaper. As I tried to point out to Mark at the Involvement Fair, I do sometime smile at the newspaper, too.

It will be interesting to see what the MMU Bike Club (my suggestion for a slogan on a t-shirt? “It’s just a hill, bike over it”) will do this year.

And we’ll see if Argent gets to be a prop at any more public events.

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