Q&A With Cyclist Andre Herman

Andre Herman‘s first organized cycling ride was Bike Around the Bay 2018. He has a unique and creative way of fundraising. Read about it and his journey as a cyclist in his Q&A below!

When did you begin cycling?

I’ve been riding a bike since I was five years old. I rode my first road bike when I was 15 — I would sneak my dad’s red Schwinn Varsity out and ride anywhere I needed to go. My relationship with the bike has mostly been for commuting. I seriously began cycling last summer.

How did you hear about Bike Around the Bay?

Last summer a friend and co-worker asked if I would be interested in riding the Bike Around the Bay event. I had no idea what it was. When he described it as a two-day, 170-mile bike around Galveston Bay, my sense of adventure was ignited. I signed up. I did not have a road bike at the time. I only had an old mountain bike that wasn’t my size. I signed up for the Saint Arnold team with my friend, showed up to a team ride with that mountain bike, and rode 50 miles. That first ride was not pretty. I finished that painful 50 miles. The next week I went out and bought a new road bike. I was hooked.

What was your first Bike Around the Bay experience like last year?

I really kind of fell in love with the Bike Around the Bay event last year. It was my first experience riding in a large, organized event, and fundraising for a cause that really felt important to me. My favorite part was riding with a fun group of people who I had become good friends with through Saint Arnold team rides.

What is your connection to the Bay and why is it important to preserve and protect the Bay?

When we first moved here a little over five years ago my family and I spent our time exploring the bay and the beaches to get to know the area better. Galveston Bay became a special place for us. Over time we developed a relationship with it. My daughters and I fish and crab, and I kayak the bay and connecting waterways. I enjoy the oysters. We like watching the different species of birds that live and migrate through. I also like photographing the bay and the waterways when out on my kayak. I teach my daughters to respect it so we can continue to enjoy it. I like to think that when you claim ownership of something, like this, a respect for it develops. You don’t want to see anything bad happen to it. You want to help keep it clean.

We heard you have a unique donor engagement tool and give your donors at a certain level a printed photograph. Can you tell us more about this?

I rode my first Bike Around the Bay last year. When I was considering my approach to fundraising I knew I wanted to offer something special to the people who would be donating. I’ve been a professional photographer since 2007. Most of the people I would be asking to donate were people I knew. Or friends of friends. They all know that I make photos regularly. For my fund-raising campaign, I promised everyone who donated $20 or more would receive a signed/numbered print of an image that I would make along the ride. The edition would be determined by the final number of donors. I didn’t have an image yet. Only the promise of a limited edition signed print.

I began receiving donations from family and close friends. I would continue to widen my reach by promoting at my place of work, in my neighborhood, and other groups. The support was amazing. So much so that I won one of the fundraising prizes last year. The custom bike fitting at Bike Barn. That was really exciting. I’m competitive by nature. Winning that prize, and the hopes of earning a special jersey in the top ten fueled my drive to continue fundraising even more. I shared what the bay meant to me. I evangelized the importance of sharing personal ownership of the bay, especially to those who use it regularly.

This year, I decided to do the same thing. It would be a little different though. I had recently discovered a box in my house of cyanotype prints I had made years ago. Bingo! These were street photography images, a genre I’ve been known for over a decade. Each print was unique and one-of-a-kind. I knew this would catch people’s interest. My new campaign began. This year I raised the minimum donation. Donate $50 and receive a signed, one-of-a-kind cyanotype. Matted, and ready to frame. I knew that not everyone would be able to donate a minimum of $50. I still wanted donations of any amount, I didn’t want to leave anyone out. So I also offered any donation, $20-$49 would receive a signed street photography image from my archive. It was the perfect win-win. They get a print. I get donations, and the Galveston Bay Foundation gets support. So far I’m off to a good start. I hope to keep up the momentum.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The bay means a lot to me. I have always been a water person. I feel responsible and a sense of ownership with the bay because I fish and kayak its waters. If I’m taking from the bay, it’s only right that I help do my part to keep it clean. I mean come on! The oysters are damn good. I want to set a good example for my daughters. I want them to grow up sharing the same values for the environment. It also belongs to them.

Andre is a rider on Saint Arnold Bike Team.