Neil Baird Participates in Ride2CW

Dr. Neil Baird and his son as Neil prepares for Ride2CW

The 2019 Computers and Writing conference was held in East Lansing, MI at Michigan State University. Attendees arrived by car, plane, and, in some cases, bicycle. BGSU Rhetoric & Writing faculty member Dr. Neil Baird participated in the 2019 Ride2CW event, and shared his experiences.

What is the Ride to Computers and Writing pledge ride?

After three days of riding, I was eating the Chorizo 50/50 Burger at Old Nation Brewery in Williamston, MI with four Ride2CW luminaries: Bill Hart-Davidson (fellow BGSU falcon!), Jim Ridolpho, Lydia Wilkes, and Cheryl Ball. When Bill introduced me to Cheryl, he mentioned that I was bike-packing to the conference, which prompted conversation about the first pledge ride.

In 2010, Jim Ridolfo posted on Facebook that he was going to ride from Cincinnati to Computers and Writing in West Lafayette. This prompted Cheryl to ride from Normal, IL and Bill from East Lansing, MI. Thus, Ride2CW was born, and over time, the ride became a way to raise money to help graduate students and non-tenure track faculty travel to the conference.

Lydia mentioned that the ride reflects the ethos of computers and writing as a subfield: a community supporting people doing some wild stuff.  

Neil's tent and bike along the Ride2CW path

Who does the pledge money benefit and how does the ride work? When does it occur in relation to the conference?

Ride2CW raises money to help graduate students and non-tenure track faculty travel to the conference. In particular, funds help graduate students attend the Graduate Research Network (GRN), a one-day workshop that invites graduate students to share research-in-progress with writing and technology researchers and mentors.  

The ride usually takes place a couple of days before the conference. If riders are close to the conference, like me this year, they ride to the conference over 1-2 days. For riders far away, they typically have someone drop them offer within one-hundred miles and ride the rest of the way. In some years, conference chairs organize a series of rides for all ability levels around the conference venue the day before the conference starts.

Is this your first time participating in the ride? What got you interested in biking for C&W?

This was my first time participating in the ride. The last time I attended Computers and Writing was in 2010, when Ride2CW really wasn’t a formal event. Also, I had just started getting into cycling. Since it had been a while, I wanted to check in with what was happening in this subfield. Since 2010, I had also done a number of big rides (RAGBRAI and RAIN) a some self-supported tours. When I learned there was an organized ride, I jumped at the opportunity.

One of the things I hate about my field is the labor practices that have developed around the teaching of writing. Any time I can help out graduate students or non-tenure track faculty, I jump at the opportunity.

A map of part of Neil's path for Ride2CW

How far is the bike ride to East Lansing?

I rode from Perrysburg, OH to East Lansing. I’ve been told I’m the first to RideFromCW. Altogether, I rode 278 miles over five days.

How many people typically participate? How much money gets raised?

It’s a small number who participate in the ride. This year, for example, only a handful rode. However, lots of people donate. This year we raised close to $5000! I know Lee Nickoson, Chad Iwertz (our new colleague!), and my research partner Bradley Dilger sponsored me. So thankful to them for their sponsorship!

What do you want people to know about the pledge ride and/or C&W?

C&W is one of our smaller conferences attended by a bunch of really generous scholars. I had a blast learning from people in and between sessions, and I encourage everyone in our program to submit next year! Here’s the CFP; proposals are due in September.