Saturday morning, the CCC riders still had 60 miles ahead of them before making it home! Along the coast, as the riders head through Malibu, it’s sort of tradition to stop at Gladstones, where Sunset Blvd meets Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a famous restaurant right on the ocean, and it gets celebrities and locals alike. (I remember when I was fresh out of college, I went to an open call for servers at Gladstone’s…. there were close to 200 people there!)
Gladstones really stepped up this year – donating 10% of the total take back to the CCC. It was all the more reason to have a couple of beverages and some appetizers or lunch before that last trek into town!
The finish line celebration was set for 1pm at the Yahoo Center in Santa Monica. Several of our close friends were joining me and the kids, as well as my mom and dad…. to wait at the finish line to bring the riders in. We weren’t exactly sure how this whole finish line would work… but from what we understood, the riders were going to gather at a park outside of town and then ride in together.
Back at the finish line, a crowd of about 150 friends and family had gathered to welcome back the riders. There were pom-poms, horns, cowbells, posters and lots of smiles and screams! The riders came in on a fairly major street – so as our crowd was pushing farther and farther into traffic to try to get an eye on the riders, the cars were reduced to one lane. Fortunately, our good energy spread to the drivers – and they were good-natured about the delays we caused.
When the riders finally came into view – I got all teared up. Not just because my husband was coming home and we really had missed him… but because it’s really a tremendous accomplishment all the riders were finishing. It’s tradition in the CCC to have the riders with arthritis lead the procession in… so I knew several of the people at the front of the group…. and I knew the extraordinary effort it had taken to exert so much and bike so far – all while dealing with the pain and limitation caused by this disease. What must that have felt like? To finish such a journey?
I took video of the riders coming in, as we were all screaming and cheering. After the riders passed my view, they were given a finish medallion and then they went to the lawn festival area. How great to finally see our Princess Dave again – and to get to rub cheeks with his Klippel Coat (week’s worth of beard growth :).
We also got to see the effects of a week of sunshine. Dave has pretty dark skin naturally and tans very easily… but I think it will be awhile before this gets blended back to anything natural!
There were plenty of free drinks (chocolate coconut water, anybody?) and a luncheon by a local restaurant for riders and their families (plus guests we had pre-purchased tickets for). There were local showers for the riders – and many of them took advantage of that – sneaking off for a quick rinse before they got about hugging everybody. And of course, there were lots of thank you’s, more great words from a local JA hero, and even more raffle prizes for the riders. I think they all must have been running on pure adrenaline – feeling the high of the camaraderie as they celebrated the end of the journey.
For those that were willing to commit already to next year’s ride, Jeff Bass, whom I like to think of as the Godfather of the CCC, offered to pay the early registration fee ($75). He was willing to cough up that cash for every rider, old and new, willing to commit to 2012. Guess who was one of the first to sign up?
Dave definitely had a remarkable time and he’s very excited to do it again. This time, he knows the best places to stop and has a good idea of what the climbs are. He knows where the best stops to pick up some beverages before hitting the campgrounds are.. and he knows how to find the sunny spots in camp. He’s got a good feel for what he terms the “inside logistics” and he’s eager to bring some friends along for the journey next year. I told him I would be very impressed if he wrangled three people along. Caitlin said it would be great to even get two! He says he’s shooting for eight.
I got the chance to meet Dwight and Maria of Team Also Touch. Maria said that Sunday is the hardest day of the event – the day after. It can be such a let down after months of training and anticipation – and eight extremely emotional, physical, and spiritually packed days…. all of a sudden it’s over. And all the people you’ve been breaking bread with, and sharing the road with, and trying to make a difference with…. are all spread to the wind, back to their homes.
As the celebration was winding down, and the adrenaline was waning – I know I started to feel the weight of the week on me- so I can only imagine how Dave felt. We loaded his bike and gear into the car and headed home – where he gladly reunited with our shower and pool. It was a very sweet homecoming…..
My final mission moment for this CCC goes out to the staff and volunteers…. they were the blood, sweat and tears that made this ride happen. From setting up checkpoints, to handing out waters, to making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, these were the people behind the scenes who made things work. Special praise goes out to Jamaica and Josh, the most amazing cycle “pit” crew that ever was. All along the route each day, and every night in camp – the cycle crew fixed every problem presented to them – flat tires, bent rims, broken doo-hickies – the whole shebang. The kept the wheels spinning safely down the road – and without them, the ride would have probably been down to about 30 riders by the finish 😉 They even let people write on their SAG wagon:
Volunteers donated time and energy to get things done mean that we don;t have to pay to get things done. Not having to pay to get things done means that we can spend that money doing what we need to do most – namely, funding education, programs and research for a cure. So, my very heartfelt gratitude to the riders and sponsors who made raising over $900,000 possible – and most sincere thanks to the volunteers who are working to ensure we can use those fund to get closer to a cure. Maybe one day, they can all do the ride just for fun… and not because people really need their help.
And lastly – thank you to the generous donors who supported Dave’s ride. He raised over $3770 – and when matching dollars come in, he;ll be over $4k. That’s a monumental accomplishment given that our walk team raised $30K only a few months ago. He could not have done it without the generosity of so many of our closest friends (who always support our event efforts), new donors who supported us, work colleagues, and generous souls far and wide. Thank you again… and make sure to look out for your autographed photo of Dave in all of his lycra gear!
And now… once again Back to the Ride! If it’s the same week as this year, we have a mere 357 days until he does it again!