Living a Good life

"Colored Cowboy" George Fletcher Statue in Pendleton, Oregon

Cycling in and around Eastern OregonOregon has always been a bit ahead of its time. It was one of the first states to require bottle deposits, recycling and construction of bike lanes with new road construction. It is a great state for road touring. There are many rides and bike trails specifically set aside for riders and the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Scenic Bikeways website is a great resource if you are unfamiliar with the state’s offering. Last week I decided to take a two week riding/road tour through eastern Oregon to northern California. Loading my touring bike and trusty Green Carbon Comfort seat, I headed out west.

Thorn Hollow Oregon
Thorn Hollow, Oregon

On the first night, I stopped at the town of Pendleton. Known best for the Pendleton rodeo and its recently closed woolen mills this town, like thousands of others across our nation, has declined in recent years. To revive itself, the town has developed a downtown core, surrounding the river with a statue walk depicting early rodeo stars and settlers.

George Fletcher - The "Colored Cowboy"
George Fletcher – The “Colored Cowboy”

Strolling through the still warm evening air, I stopped to read the placards alongside the bronze figures. One in particular captured my heart, the story of George Fletcher, a “colored cowboy”. The plaque told the story of how being black in 1911, he faced hardships that were difficult to surmount. In one case, this young cowboy, the only African-American in the competition, should have won the first-place prize of World Bronco Riding Champion. However, the prize of a $350 saddle was awarded to a white rider. The Sheriff disagreed, instead he took Fletcher’s cowboy hat, cut it into tiny pieces and sold it to the crowd. He raised enough money for Fletcher to buy an equal saddle and leave more than that amount in his pocket. He was named the “People’s Champion”. More about this great story is here.
This bit of history really moved me, for the Sheriff and the people in the crowd who pulled money from their pockets did the right thing. This story made me think of all the bike riders I know who ride in or organize charity rides. They see injustice or need and they act. They are people who give of their own time or money to do the right thing for others. We only go around once in this life folks, and we’ll all end up in the same bone yard. So, it is our job while we are here to do the right thing. It is simple really, because the more we give, the more we get.
Today, do the right thing.

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