Tony Pechenik is passionate about philanthropy and cycling, his Foundation cycling team is a natural extension of both his interests. But, aside from all the exaggerated gossip, exactly what the “Foundation” is or how it works has been a bit of a mystery to us so we asked Tony to explain and clear up some misconceptions:
Foundation is born
Inson Wood and I started Foundation because our friends had a general feeling that cycling had to more give back to the community. Ric Wolfe and Earl Osborne joined our leadership a couple years later and along with our sponsors helped us realize our dream, a competitive team that gave back. The team began one cold morning doing laps on River road with Inson Wood. In an endorphic epiphany we decided we would start a team called Foundation, and that we would require the riders to contribute to charity, and buy their own uniforms. The proceeds from sponsorships and the uniforms would help fund charities and develop local riders. We made two other rules, no mandatory meetings and no mandatory racing. We wanted people on the team who were competitive and interested in racing, the idea was contribute to the team and give back and you belong.
At first other competitive riders laughed at our "concept", but the first year we raised over $10,000 for charities while Inson and his A team were on the podium many times. The second year we started attracting and developing more local riders. Igor Misicki and Alexandro Guzman had strong results for us and at times we were leading the club in points. Tom Auth won the club championship race a few years ago, so the team has always been quite competitive. We are all proud that the real place we have won is that in the past 5-6 years we have raised over one million dollars for charities between our sponsors and our members. These charities include Juvenile Diabetes, Alzheimer's, Transportation Alternatives, the CRCA, the Central Park Conservancy, and the Sakonnet development team.
"We do not pay our riders bonuses"
Our 2008 team has brought us a lot of notoriety. Igor won the spring series, Lisban won many local races including both the CRCA Club Race and Time Trial Championships and placed in the Top of many Pro Field NRC Races. We had numerous Masters Time Trial podiums, almost every racer has a podium. As an organization we have seen our efforts pay off, the riders that graduated to other teams wanted to come back. They really like the atmosphere of the team, there was no pressure and they could ride for themselves. So we accepted our "teams challenge" and the team and sponsors stepped up with an equipment and race fees package. We want to be clear that we do not pay our riders bonuses. They win because of their talent and drive, we are very proud of our team. We want to help local riders, we could do more but we want to strike a balance, we want to help amateur racing but our charities come first, our charitable budget is significantly bigger than our rider development budget. This year we were also proud to support Sakonnet, Matt Koshara and Basil Moutsopoulos have done a great job. We have a goal of helping to get riders into the the pros, we helped Igor Misicki, Todd Herriot and Will Riffelmacher turn pro, we encouraged Adam Alexander to ride for Sakonnet and our riders to try and ride for Empire if there was a better opportunity. We are also proud of the guys who started with us that formed Jonathan Adler, they have really developed a great team in the past few years.
Everybody Owns the Park! (the New York magazine article on sharing the park with runners Rollerbladers and peds)
The article exaggerated problems and presented statements out of context, I just had to laugh at it. It was just inflammatory journalism that painted a completely erroneous view of what is really going on in "Our Park". I'm joking, the park is for everyone. Millions of people use this park every year in harmony, families and tourists enjoy the park along side of the athletes. As cyclists we tend to embrace our right to race, the 100 years of cycling history and our modern heroes such as George Hincapie who came up racing in this park. As a cyclist I can tell you I am in awe of the runners, I love and own a dog; the vast majority of cyclists feel the same way. The quotes and references to specific events that occurred in the park were out of context and character for cyclists and the other groups that were named and involved. Whenever you get hundreds of thousands of people together you are going to have unfortunate occurances. What the article should have said is "Everyone Owns the Park!" The park is diverse and a safe haven for New Yorkers to enjoy their leisure and sports activities.
The competitive cycling community needs to work on other groups' perception of us. We can help by respecting other's space, not yelling at others, respecting the no night ride rule in the spring, asking fast and perceived dangerous riders to slow down, and by training in smaller groups. Raising money or volunteering for charities as a cyclist will also help bridge this gap.