It was beautifully chilly in San Fransisco on Sunday morning. It almost felt like fall… which was very welcome after the sticky heat that we’ve been having in southern California.
The front of the hotel was a busy spot – with riders all around looking for their bikes, making sure their gear was loaded, posing for pics.
I was looking for a couple of specific people – trying to find my friend Mariah’s husband Austin, who is riding for the first time in her honor. Not sure if you’ve ever been around about 150 people in matching lycra / spandex gear and bike helmets, but they sort of start to all look the same! Luckily I was able to find Austin right before he took off.
Because the riders were starting the course on major streets in the city, they needed to take off in waves of about 15 to 20 riders at a time. There was an awesome drumline there as well, setting a celebratory beat…and there were family and friends there to cheer the riders off. It was a little crowded on the sidewalk in front of the hotel – I felt a little bad for the people who were just trying to jog through or walk their dogs or whatever!
Here’s a shot of Dave and Matteo. We met Matteo and his wife Lisa and the opening dinner. Their daughter Livia is one of the JA honorees. It’s his first CCC…. but I sort of got the feeling that he’s a pretty seasoned cyclist.
We had a cheer group there to route for Princess Parade – which is our team. It’s always been our team for walk, and now it’s a ride team as well. Dave is solo on the team for the first six days – but he has four other riders joining him for the last two days. We’re pretty excited to get some new Princesses – and I know those guys will look fantastic with tiaras on their bike helmets too! Cheering the riders out that morning were my kids Caitlin, Jack and Nick, Dave’s sister Bo, my nephew Christian and me – all wearing our team shirts and banging some pretty serious cowbell.
After the riders had all departed – we had a little coffee at the conveniently adjacent Starbucks and then checked out of the hotel. By the time we got on the road and made it to the first rest stop, which was about 17 miles out, it looked like a lot of riders were already passing by. So we decided to head straight for stop #2… and managed to get there about 10:15am, ahead of all the riders. Meanwhile, they were all pedaling out of the city and enjoying some beautiful sights!
At the first stop, they staff and volunteers had already set up a full array of snacks, drinks, bananas and peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. We had a clear view up the road, so we could be ready to ring those bells and cheer the riders as they approached!
Matteo confirmed my suspicions when he showed up with the second group to pull in 🙂
I really loved being able to experience the ride this way – something we didn’t get to do last year. If there’s one thing that really struck me… and maybe I shouldn’t be saying this… it’s that it looked so much harder than Dave made it seem! I mean, I know all of those riders are trained… but have you seen those seats???? They are really small!!! And those riders are sitting on them for a really long time! And the hills? Just driving them – it seemed like there were lot of them to me. It sort of reminded me of what juvenile arthritis has been like. I’ve always said it’s up and down like a roller coaster. You sort of chug, chug, chug through a flare – trying new meds, trying therapy, dealing with the pain – just trying to keep pushing for the top of the hill. Trying to be done with the climb! And then a little downhill break and some flat land. But just when you’ve caught your breath, or maybe a few moments before… another hill is there in your path. So, seeing those riders shifting down, head down, pushing on up those inclines over and over again – I was SERIOUSLY impressed! And we were thrilled to be there to cheer them in to that stop, which was about the 35 mile mark…. and to cheer them out again knowing they had another 50 plus to go!
I can’t say I remember driving the coast between San Fransisco and Santa Cruz before, but it is seriously beautiful.
After about noon, Bo took the kids on to the third stop and I stayed on at the 2nd to keep cheering riders forward. At about 12:30, I took off to meet them. Dave had pulled out quite a while before, and I was tracking the riders as I passed them in the lazy comfort of my minivan and figuring that I was close to him. Just as I topped and incline with a gorgeous view, I saw him paused on the side with a few other guys and he waved me down. How great! I got to stop and give my guy a big hug smack dab in the middle of the day! I was so excited that I parked, left the keys in the ignition with the engine on, hopped out and slammed the door and sauntered over. But surely, you know what comes next, right? How I shut the door so hard – it seems I locked it? Yes… I did 🙂 Locked the car, with the keys in the ignition and the car running – all my ID and phone inside. On the side of PCH about five miles north of the third pit stop. Luckily, Dave still had about a 10% charge left on his phone – so I was able to call AAA for help before I sent him on his way. On the bummer side – it took them 2 hours to come. But on the plus side, I was able to cheer a bunch of riders after they climbed that tough hill… and I think most of them probably just thought I planned to be there. (alas, my cowbell was also locked in the car… but I can yell and clap!) Also on the plus side, I happened to be at sort of a famous spot for photos – and was there when this one was taken.
I was also able to take this same photo for about 5 other riders when they came by (and also snapped some great shots for a lovely young German couple on vacation ;)).
But by the time the tow truck dude finally rescued me, we were behind many of the riders by far. We headed straight for camp and found that Dave had already had time to set up for the night.
Bo ran back to town and picked up some Sierra Nevadas for Dave and friends – and we bid a sad adieu. I had a six-hour drive to get the kids home for school (and me for work) today. So after we grabbed some pizza in town (and I highly recommend Woodstock Pizza) – we got on the road.
After being with the riders all day, I really hated to leave them. There are volunteers that actually follow along all week. How cool is that? Would love to…. someday. Even though I could see the challenge written on some of the riders faces, mostly was I saw was excitement and elation. But I wish I could be there tomorrow, when the muscles are a bit tired and the saddles are sore…. to cheer for them and let them know how much I appreciate what they are doing. It’s still 438 miles to go after all…. but my prayers and hopes and gratitude are with them every day!!
P.S. In case you are wondering what the little arrow thing is that is sometimes at the top of my posts… it’s an audio player… with a track that is supposed to coincide 🙂