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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Jumping on the Mule Train

(Left to Right: Philip Shrimpton, Dave Hill, Kenny Rhame, Patrick Shrimpton)

In 2009 the concept of 'The Mules' emerged during the completion of the Annual MS 150 Houston to Austin Charity cycle event in America.
That year was significantly different.
For the first time ever, day one was cancelled, because of extreme weather conditions.
Despite that four of the regular  MS 150 Riders (above) which included my brother Paddy and I, were shaken but not deterred.

After spending months of trying to get people to sponsor us, we felt that we would be cheating our sponsors if we only completed the shorter second day.
 All of our backgrounds were connected with risk in its differing forms so we felt well placed to properly assess the conditions. 
Our conclusion was that we decided to ride.

It was not totally reckless, we knew that we would be fully supported and able to monitor the weather systems...... closely.

We did  receive some 'well meant' criticism from some quarters - suggesting that we were mad, and these comments were noted.
If it were not for them the Mules may never have evolved.

For out of respect for those views, it was decided that we should not to ride in our team colours, but as a quartet of like minded fellows.
These events were catalogued in an early blog (Renegade Riders) 
As we cycled towards Bellville we discussed many things as we dodged tornado's, including the values that made us get up that morning.
Amongst the subjects was the idea of making our own team, something that reflected our values and made us different.
We all had experiences of local cycling clubs where the emphasis was on personal improvement and competitive development.
Where riding in the 'Red zone' seemed to be semi compulsory and the desire to chat was negated by the need to maximise your oxygen intake, or to put it in Yorkshire Speak....You were blowing out your Arse!!!!!.
We wanted people to ride for fun and kinship to enhance personal development and present competition as being something you did against yourself.
With our objectives sorted the only thing that was missing was a suitable name.

At that time I was a fledgling blogger and the name of my site 'Travels with my Mule' seemed to resonate with us all.
Paddy suggested we call ourselves Travels with my Mule.

2009 seems a long time ago now.
From that quartet in 2009 our ranks have swelled.

Paddy organised Jerseys, Bibs, beers holders (Very Important) a SAG Wagon and was instrumental in bringing people together in the Houston area of Texas to ride as a team, train as a team and drink beer as a team.
More importantly to partake in Charity endurance rides.
They set up a great social scene with organised monthly social gatherings.

Paddy also set up a website which provides links to all that we are 'about', including a direct link to this blogsite.

To a lesser extent I went back to Yorkshire and sold the concept to friends and work colleagues where we too were able to form our own more modest group which has grown in stature and in numbers.
We followed the US template with charity events throughout the whol;e of the UK and frequent social gatherings.
The name Travels with my Mule was soon recognised as a bit of a mouthful so we now just call ourselves 'The Mules' both in the USA and UK.
A name that has been uttered by many MC's now where people no longer say
'Who are they?'

As we have grown the Mules have taken part in more varied local and international rides which have supported local and national charities on both sides of the Atlantic, We have also organised endurance social rides for our members exploring terrains in far flung places.

In order to keep up our momentum and to ensure that others dont miss out and our able to  join our Mule Train we are becoming affiliated to our respective cycling bodies in the United Kingdoam And the USA.

The US Mules have already become part of US Cycling Registering as 'The Mules International Cycling Team'.
They even have their own recognised Cat Riders performing in the Mule Livery.
Paddy naturally was nominated as president but he is ably assisted by Ivonne the team Secretary
(Steve and Ivonne)

Ivonne and her Husband Steve are new members to the team and have ensured that the wave of enthusiasm continues to build.
Such is the progression of the US Mules that they are now able to actively get involved with local charities who want to host ride events to raise money. One such charity being 'Cycle for little Heroes'
In the UK we have just had our first AGM and have appointed officers to form a committee.

Being from 'Up North' in England the we are seen as people who like 'Committie meetings' which has been the 'but' of many comedians over the years - including Monty Python.
I think we are portrayed as being unsophisticated, illiterate yet full of our self importance, with  committee meetings being held with the same reverence as Christmas.

Ours was very amusing and Full of Christmas Spirit......'Famous Grouse', 'Chevas Regal' and 'Highland Park' to be precise.
We have now formed 'The Mules Cycling Club' with myself as Secretary, Duncan Collins as Chairman and Karen Gooding as Treasurer.
The rest of the hard core riders are now committee members.
Tomorrow we will look to be registered with British Cycling and actively boost our own Membership.

Whether Anglo or US Mule our goals are the same.
To promote cycling to all members. To do so in such a way that is inclusive, supportive and encourages participants to enjoy the sport and achieve their own personal goals. As well as promoting a healthier greener lifestyle we are also dedicated to raising funds for various charities through the various events we undertake.
If you want to know more about joining either check out the website.

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