‘Remember the Removal’ volunteer honored by Cherokee Nation
LOOK National Road Series Technical Director Jose Alcala has been assisting with the “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride since 2014 and was honored by the Cherokee Nation on March 11 for volunteering his time to provide assistance. Principal Chief Bill John Baker, left, and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden presented him with a Pendleton blanket on March 11. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Bicycle mechanic Jose Alcala speaks with 2019 “Remember the Removal” cyclists following their training ride on March 10. He encouraged them and gave them advice for their training. The Cherokee Nation honored Alcala for volunteering his time since 2014 to assist with the annual bicycle ride. In June, the 11 cyclists will retrace the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears, a nearly 1,000-mile journey. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
LOOK National Road Series Technical Director Jose Alcala speaks with “Remember the Removal” trainer Sarah Holcomb following a March 11 Tribal Council meeting in which he was honored by the Cherokee Nation for volunteering his time to provide technical assistance to the annual bicycle ride. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation honored bicycle mechanic Jose Alcala on March 11 for volunteering his time to assist the annual “Remember the Removal” bicycle ride.
Alcala, who is the technical director for LOOK National Road Series in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has provided technical assistance for the ride since 2014. Each year he meets the cyclists near their midway point in Kentucky or Illinois and spends several days with them cleaning and servicing their bicycles.
He said he learned of the annual ride from a park ranger while visiting the former CN capital in New Echota, Georgia.
“I decided to visit there after listening to a National Public Radio broadcast about the Trail of Tears written by (Cherokee author and actress) Sarah Vowell. He saw my Volvo and all the bikes on it and began to tell me about the modern journey that retraced the Trail of Tears route on bicycles,” he said. “I went back home to Wisconsin and began to research the ride. I tried to find as much information as I could via the Internet, and I was fortunate to come across the ‘RTR’ Facebook page.”
He said he followed the 2014 riders on the internet as they began their trek and located the closest point they would be to him while he was visiting Tulsa.
“I then decided I would travel from an event I was at in Tulsa and drive all day to where they would be in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with hopes of offering my assistance if needed,” he said.
‘RTR’ bike ride coordinators Marvel Welch of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and CN citizen Joseph Erb met Alcala and accepted his offer.
“I decided to help because for me it was the right thing to do. I have all of these resources, (car, bikes, wheels, tires and inner tubes) from all of my cycling sponsors, and I wanted to offer support in any way I could,” he said. “I thank my mother for teaching me to, ‘Always do what you can for others, and share what you have when you can.’ And so that’s what I intended to do. A big thank you to Marvel Welch and Joseph Erb for welcoming me that day, and allowing me to do what I could for the riders.”
Some ‘RTR’ cyclists Alcala has met during the years came to the March 11 Tribal Council meeting to see him honored. Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden presented him with a Pendleton blanket, and cyclists joined him for a photo in the Council Chambers.
Also, during his visit to Tahlequah, he accompanied cyclists during their training ride on March 10 to service their bicycles if needed, to encourage them and to give them advice for their three-week trip in June when they will retrace the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears.
“It has been great to see the ride organization, and ride support grow each year. Having a skilled team of people attending to the needs of the participants is so important on such a long journey. Such a variety of things can (and do) happen in the weeks the riders are in route to Tahlequah. The assistance of a great staff is so key to getting everyone home safe,” Alcala said.