The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 21, 2013

Cyclist rides, rings and raises funds for charity

PITTSBURG, Kan. — For six and a half hours Friday in a brisk wind and temperatures that never exceeded 30 degrees, a Salvation Army bell ringer at the Pittsburg Wal-Mart found himself working up a sweat.

And burning nearly 5,000 calories.

Pittsburg resident and avid cyclist Todd McGeorge, 47, was ringing the bell on a bike. Or rather, his bike was ringing the bell.

With the bike locked in to a static trainer outside the north entrance, he not only attracted attention from shoppers, his kettle was one of the heaviest in recent weeks, Salvation Army officials said.

Keeping the pedals on his Trek going around from 2 to 8:30 p.m. was the product of McGeorge’s fitness level and determination, but he credited the finesse of the bike’s bell contraption to the expertise of Tailwind Cyclist owner Roger Lomshek and shop mechanic Bob Dicken.

“About a week ago, I asked Roger if he could help me with this, and he said my back wheel was spinning too much — 200 rpms — and that would make the bell sound like a fire bell,” McGeorge said as he spun. “So he and Bob messed with it, and it’s worked like a charm.”

They mounted two bells — a standard bike handlebar bell and the bell from a teapot — to a piece of PVC pipe and wood, then mounted that to the spot on the bike frame normally occupied by the water bottle cage.

Each pedal stroke rang one bell, then the other.

It had the desired effect: In the span of 30 minutes, more than a dozen shoppers dropped coins and bills into the kettle, all with smiles and some with shouts of encouragement. McGeorge greeted each with a “Merry Christmas” and a thanks, never breaking his rhythm.

“As soon as people see me from 50 yards away, they have ear-to-ear grins,” he said Friday night. “I’ve gotten a great response.”

Their most common question?

“Everyone wants to know how far I’ve gone. I have no idea. I haven’t left this spot,” he joked at 8 p.m. “Seriously, I have no odometer, so I can’t tell. I just know I’ve been doing this for six hours.”

During that time, he’s smelled steak cooking at nearby Applebee’s and has a direct view of Arby’s across the street.

“A stranger brought me a chicken sandwich today, and it was awesome,” he said.

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