East Side Bike Club: Riding to make a difference

Every year there are hundreds of teams that join the Ride for Roswell.  While some teams have been returning to Ride for several years, the Ride Community is always expanding.

In 2023, East Side Bike Club (ESBC) made a commitment to the cause by creating a team for the first time.

East Side Bike Club at IceCycle
East Side Bike Club Slow Roll
East Side Bike Club at IceCycle
East Side Bike Club at MLK Park

Team Captain Karen Huffman says several of their members have ridden as individuals over the last few years, but this year they’re excited to do Ride Day together as an organized group.

“Our team really is a family,” Karen stated.

One of the main reasons they’re getting involved in Ride for Roswell is reflective of why ESBC was founded in the first place: community representation.

“The East Side is not always well represented in many aspects, including the biking world,” said Karen. “It’s important to get us out there. It’s also important to let people know that the East Side exists and that it still needs a lot to catch it up to the rest of Buffalo on every front, including cancer research and cancer treatment.”

George Johnson, the founder of ESBC, agrees.

“It’s important that we are there so that we can send a message to our community,” said George. “I know that early detection with cancer is vitally important. I have some cancer survivors in my family, and I know of a lot of cancer survivors, but often times when we should get tested or checked out for things, especially as black people, we often think, ‘Well that’s for them, and it’s not for us.”

George wants to change the conversation and encourage more people to learn about cancer, how to protect themselves and when to seek help.

With a mission to educate others and build relationships, a partnership was born between ESBC and Ride for Roswell.

Getting involved and growing.

Members of ESBC are on a roll participating in Roswell Park events. They came out in a large number at this year’s IceCycle, and had a blast spinning at RiverWorks.

“That was so fun! None of us went in there knowing what to expect other than to dress in layers, but once we got going, we were laughing and having a great time,” said Karen.

Now, they’re in recruitment season for Ride for Roswell!

Karen says they’re talking to people one-on-one about the Ride and the mission, with more people joining every day. They’re also utilizing social media as a recruitment tool.

George added, “We try to tell them that it’s important to come and get involved. We encourage them as best as we can to get on a bike, but for people who don’t want to ride, you can just come and be around the people. You can pass out information.”

East Side Bike Club at IceCycle
Karen Huffman at IceCycle

Riding with purpose.

When asked what she was looking forward to most on Ride Day, Karen answered, “Just spending time with our team and knowing that we’re all together raising money for cancer research, which affects everybody across every population. It doesn’t discriminate.”

George echoed similar sentiments.

He explained, “The Ride is something to collaborate to bring people closer together so they can see the bigger picture. More importantly, we’re building a partnership that’s necessary to bring awareness.”

Both Karen and George hope Ride for Roswell becomes a tradition for ESBC. They have a desire to inform and engage their community, while doing their part in the mission to end cancer.

“We’ll be celebrating with a lot of joy. We’ll be posting information. We’ll have a lot of fun at the Ride,” said George. “Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors, and we try to do the best we can to display that.”