Sunday, January 31, 2010
The North Shore Armenian Cycling Club
Most readers of The Armenian Weekly (where this piece was written for) are familiar with the name Ken Hachikian. We know him because of his excellent leadership as Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Together with the excellent staff in Washington and the numerous regional and state volunteers, the ANCA has built a most effective grassroots lobbying organization that has really helped get the Armenian-American political agenda much more visibility than ever before. Those that know Ken a bit better also are aware of his business acumen. As a Partner at the Stonegate Group, Ken is an independent investment banking professional and turnaround consultant. In either role, Ken is known for his focus, passion, intensity, insights, and intellect.
What most people do not know is that Ken is founder and president of the North Shore Armenian Cycling Club based in Lake Forest, IL. Club members include Koko Tchamitchian, Christian Tchamitchian, Antreas Mesrobian, Claude Ohanesian, Ara Surenian, and yours truly Mark Gavoor. As a club we ride weekend mornings. Ken is constantly sending out e-mails organizing our weekend rides. I ride with him the most. Koko and Claude often join as well. We ride the Skokie Valley and McCrory Bike paths and have rides of 10 – 35 miles depending on the time available, the weather, and who joins the peleton. Once this year, Ken and I embarked on a fifty mile ride on the Des Plaines River Trail up to Wisconsin and back.
We ride because we love it. We do it for health and fitness. We do it for camaraderie. We do it to discuss economics and politics. We do it to get updated from Ken on issues facing the ANCA. There are rumors we are Ken’s secret advisory board and braintrust. I can most definitively put those rumors to rest by simply stating that Ken is head and shoulders smarter than each of us. It should be noted, however, when we talk Armenian politics, we ride much slower than normal. Yet, somehow the heart rate still reaches aerobic levels… go figure.
As Team Quartermaster, I found a source for Armenian Cycling jerseys from bikethings.com (www.bikingthings.com/arbijearcy.html) in June of 2009. We needed to outfit our club so that when we were clogging the bikepaths discussing Armenian issues, all the other cyclists would know who we are. We discussed this purchase thoroughly at one of our rare dinner meetings. Come on, we are Armenian, so food is always involved and perhaps even more important than the exercise. After a long and lengthy discussion of “I dunno, what do you think?”and “Wow… bike jerseys are really expensive.” The club agreed and we began the process of ordering the jerseys. Indeed it was a process. It took a few months from to get our jerseys. The process was elongated for a few reasons. First, believe it or not, bikethings does not stock Armenian Jerseys. I guess they are not big sellers. Go figure. So, these jerseys are made only when they they have a firm pre-paid order in hand. Secondly, the jerseys are made in Colombia, so even when they are done, it would still be about 10-15 days before we got them. Lastly, finalizing our order was delayed because bike jerseys have a different sizing protocol so it took some time for those of us that wear XXL shirts to come to grips that our bike jerseys would be 4XLs due to the European sizing standard used. As good Armenians, we were none too short on vanity.
Once we got the jerseys in late August, it took more intense planning to find a date when we could all gather for photographs. We decided to gather for photographs on September 20, 2009 though Ara and Claude were in absentia. Our Public Relations Vice-President, Koko, arranged for the renowned sports photographer Suzanne Tchamitchian, coincidently his wife, to take both still and action shots which we are releasing to the public along with this article about our club.
We learned later that we were donning the official Jersey of the National Cycling Federation of Armenia (www.cycling.am). We, due primarily to age, weight, and pace, could never ever be mistaken for Armenian National Team but when we are wearing and cruising along, we feel like we are representing our great nation and people.
So, if you are ever in Chicago and the weather is good enough to bicycle, come and join us. We can set you up with a bicycle. If you want to join our club, we would love to have you. The dues are practically nothing… actually there are no dues. All you ever have to do is show up for rides… if you can or want. We certainly accept social only members. In either case, you will have to get your own Armenian National Team Jersey. And if, by some miracle we are going too fast for you, just ask a question about Armenian politics and we will slow right down.