I can’t believe it’s already here! What happened to the summer????
The kids are barely back to school (Jack just started last Wednesday), and it’s already time for the California Coast Classic again! Now that Dave has one year under his belt, I would say that the lead-up to the event was much more calm…. much less anxiety. He was consistent with his training, but I think now he knows he can do it and has a stronger base level of confidence…. so he was really only averaging one long ride a week this last six weeks.
On Saturday morning, we piled in to the minivan and headed up to the Bay Area. Dave’s sister lives in Benicia, which is “Bay Area proximity”. Last year, we stayed there the night before the ride… but it’s about an hour drive and was a bit nerve-wracking to add that to all of the other logistical components. So this year, we spent the afternoon enjoying family time with his sister Bo and her family…. then left the kids with her while we headed in to the city for the opening night dinner.
We had this great view from our room at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway…. San Fransisco is such a…city! Daunting to imagine the riders navigating all of this at the beginning of the ride….
We were late to this dinner last year… so this was a great opportunity to meet people and hear stories of why they are riding. What is really interested about this as opposed to some other events, is that a great many people are there for the cycling first. I mean, there’s this whole world….whole culture of people who are REALLY in to cycling. Google cycling magazines, and you’ll get at least 10 major magazines dedicated to the subject. And this event is primo – great course down the California Coast, great support logistics, 525 miles over 8 days with hills and great views – a real adventure! Of course, there is a great cause attached…. but many of the riders don’t know all that much about arthritis (after all, there’s really only one major national mag for that!). Many of them are there for a rockin’ ride. That’s one of the charms about the opening night dinner- there are posters, and table tents with info, and guest speakers…. and plus, there are also riders who are really connected to the cause. New riders are surrounded by the mission, and it’s sort of exciting to see that education happening…. and see everybody getting all the more pumped up because their ride has meaning for so many people.
This is one of my JA friends, Lily. She is one of the eight honorees for the ride. Every day, there is a photo of a child with arthritis, and their story, on the daily route guide. Since most of the riders never knew that Kids get arthritis too (of course…) this is a great way to help them understand the importance of their efforts.
Another JA warrior and honoree, Gigi, was there for the dinner to talk to the group. She was so cute and well spoken as she explained that she does not like her methotrexate shots and doesn’t like feeling sick. I met Gigi and her mom that night – and she really was under the weather – which is unfortunately, fairly common for kids taking the chemo medication Methotrexate. A lot of parents give it on Friday nights, so the child will have time to recover from the fatigue and side effects before the next school week. But Gigi came out to support the riders even though she felt not so hot… and they really responded to her 🙂
Another great thing about the kick-off, was the information given by the crew supporting the event. There were about 8 support staff on stage, and the mechanics were downstairs prepping cycles. They explained everything from where to leave your gear, to how to stop the SAG wagon when it passes you, to how much to eat and drink during the day. When they were covering everything they would be handling for the ride (transporting gear to campgrounds and hotels, shuttles back and forth from hotel to camp for minimum 90 minutes each morning and evening, marking the course, operating SAG wagons, emergency response, pit stop stations and check-ins… on and on…) it was really impressive. They all looked really young and hip too…. I kept thinking that it would be a pretty cool job to have, following cyclists around supporting various adventures and being a part of the massive, yet surprisingly clandestine secret cycling world.
Dinner was also a time to recognize the sponsors, thank the staff and volunteers, and recognize riders for their multiple years in the event. There were two riders who have been there all 12 years for the CCC – wow! A couple of people with 11 years too…. lots of people with 4 or 5. Couldn’t help but hope that the veterans would all want to return next year. There’s room for 300 riders on this event… and I didn’t get a complete count, but I think there are about 170 riders this year. Room for more!
By the end of the event, I had met many very lovely people. I was all pumped up by the anticipation and excitement they shared – but we still managed to be asleep by 10pm. Staying in San Fransisco is not so cheap – but I was really happy that Dave was getting a good night’s sleep prior to the big ride. A huge thanks to Dave’s sister Bo for keeping the kids overnight!
Next episode….Day One!