“A few years’ experience will convince us that those things which at the time they happened we regarded as our greatest misfortunes have proved our greatest blessings.” George Mason
Day 6 was the last day that the Princess Parade was Dave riding solo. It was a beautiful day, which ended at Buellton.
The California Coast Classic tried something new this year, by adding a two day ride. Previous years, the 8 day ride was a Saturday to Saturday event. It has a capacity for 300 riders, but seems to be sort of stuck in the 150-175 range. Because it is such a great event, and is so important to funding the mission, especially in the Pacific Region, the Foundation is always seeking ways to help it grow. By adding a two day option, they made way for a whole group of weekend warriors, entry level cyclists, and people who just plain don’t have the time to do the whole week. The hope, naturally, is that some of those riders will fall in love with the event and come along for the whole week next year.
In order to give the two day riders the same kick-off experience that the other riders had, the AF planned a second welcome dinner for Friday night. For the veteran riders, I think this was a bit of a bummer…. because they were used to hanging out at the campground, watching movies and eating dinner there. Instead, they had to shuttle to a nearby hotel for a buffet dinner…. But I think in the end, they enjoyed it, and especially enjoyed the infusion of excitement and energy that 120 new riders brought with them!
Caitlin was the honoree on Day 6 – which meant that she was invited to speak at the dinner. As an introduction, they showed Dave’s recruitment video. It tells much of what Caitlin has been through over the years. We were sitting up in the front of the room, and I spent the time trying not to cry (Fail!) and watching the reactions of people in the room. After the video, Caitlin got up on stage and spoke briefly about how she has had to give up ballet and softball…. but that she is determined to become a cheerleader next year… and how all of the riders mean so much to her because they carry the message and the mission with them. Dave and I were pretty dang proud….
On a somber note that evening… I learned that one of the riders, Lafe Parkin, who had been injured a week or so before the ride had succumbed to his injuries this past Wednesday. His son Josh had joined the ride in his place. Josh had been pulled off the route on Wednesday and given the sad news about his father. In his father’s honor, the stayed with the tour and finished. The room erupted as the event chair Dennis explained to all the new riders that Josh was still riding, and that the other riders were wearing Lafe and Josh’s number, 201, somewhere on their gear in honor of them both. We gave Josh a standing ovation and to say it was emotional would be a huge understatement…
Alexa was at the dinner too… and she is adored by the veterans of the ride, having been an honoree, speaker and motivator for several years. Not to mention the fact that her dad, Sean “The Pirate” is a well-known ride vet.
Alexa and Caitlin were both presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers….
At Friday night’s dinner, Dave was joined by the rest of his team – Brian, Shereef, Steve Y., and Steve C. I’ve known Shereef, but it was great to get to know the other guys – Dave has been talking a lot about them. He’s definitely excited to have some new teammates along for the ride! As the dinner was winding down, I could tell that the Princess Parade was eager to get to bed and get some quality rest!
Saturday morning – the riders gathered at camp in preparation for a 90 mile day. This was the longest ride that several of these guys had ever done – by far. Caitlin, Nick and I had stayed at the hotel – so we didn’t see the riders first thing. But luckily, somebody sent me this photo of the team before they headed out (Thanks Chris!).
On this morning’s route, there’s a portion of the 101 that is a two lane bridge, with no shoulder or bike lane. The only way for cyclists to pass safely, really, is to have one of the traffic lanes closed. Cal Trans and Highway Patrol took care of this… but being that this was a Saturday morning on a beautiful scenic highway, they were not very interested in having traffic back up for long. So, the rule was that all the riders had to be over the bridge by 10am. Any riders who hadn’t made the cut-off would have to be shuttled by van to a point past the bridge.
Knowing this – the kids and I decided to head to the first rest stop to cheer in the riders. we were very happy to see our Princess Parade roll in!
The team had already split up somewhat by the time we saw them, at about mile 27. LOVE the new jerseys!!!! We stayed at this spot for about two hours – and saw about 175 riders come through before we decided to leap ahead to the next stop.
We saw Shereef and Steve Y come in first to this stop – They had missed the first pit stop. But this one was a check-point – and all the riders are required to at least check in by number. It was a nice stop at a bluff top park – and Alexa joined the cheering and checking in, as did our friend Lily. Dave, Steve and Brian all came through pretty quickly – and we decided to head south again to reach camp before our team.
Steve Y ended up beating us there. Despite the fact that he claims never to have ridden more than about 60 miles in a day, he was one of the top 10 or 15 into camp in Ventura… and was still full of energy! He did however, sustain a minor road rash, when he was forced off into some gravel and took a spill. But an on site nurse took care of his injury…
The team got lots of compliments on the jerseys…. and I’m glad that the team felt they were well made. Got a great deal on them, with no minimum and no set-up fee through Jakroo. That will come in handy next year -when hopefully, I’ll have to buy more:)
It really meant a great deal to my family, and to Dave in particular, that these guys were willing to sign up and ride with him. There are a lot of charity rides out there… and a lot of great causes to support. The fact that these guys were willing to extend themselves, and give of their time and energy, not to mention reaching (and surpassing!) the fundraising minimum was really a blessing for us. I know he was really excited to share the experience with them – and I was so happy to see what talented athletes they all are! To think about riding 90 miles is at minimum daunting – to see all of those riders coast in after completing it was more than inspirational! I also want to give a shout out to the 6th Princess – Mike L…. who was training for the ride, but was pretty sreiously injured in a softball accident (athletes!) and couldn’t make the ride this year. But just the fact that he signed up and was committed to it was a gift to us….
By about 4 o’clock, my three year-old Nick was running on fumes with no nap and a day full of jetting around. We saw Dave’s camp site for the night… left him with a cooler of beer… and headed home.
There was a part of me that wished we were staying next door at the hotel, so we could be close to the riders in the morning. And maybe even see what goes on at camp at night! But my middle son Jack had stayed with my folks in order not to miss his Friday night football game – and we really needed to go get him so he could be with us for the final stretch on Sunday.
As we pulled away from the beach, Nick said – “I don’t wanna take a nap!” And as I pulled on to the freeway one block later…
So, I have a few mission moments to share. The first goes out to Ventkat, one of the riders that Dave told me about. He is not an experiences cyclist to say the least – and often seems to be cycling to the beat of his own drummer. Dave asked him what brought him to the CCC… and he said he found a flyer in a donut shop of all places. It made him think of all the millions of people who suffer from arthritis in India, where he was originally from. So, he signed up. Just that beautifully generous and altruistic. He trained for a short period, raised the money and rode 525 miles down the coast because he wanted to help improve the lives of people with arthritis… and he never stopped to worry about the fact that he never had done such a thing before. Awesome!
My second mission moment goes out to Kathleen, whom we met at the first pit stop this morning, as she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. she had been doing the very same thing all week as she followed the tour down the coast. Three years ago, her brother signed up to ride and she agreed to volunteer in support of him. She got hooked and even though he never rode again, she is still here. And wouldn’t you know it? Over a year ago, Kathleen was diagnosed with RA. She explained what it was like to not be able to lift her leg high enough to step up on a curb, or lift her arms to get dressed, or be able to pick up her dog. She’s getting treatment and doing better now. But Kathleen gave me a gift this morning when she told me that when she was grieving her diagnosis, Caitlin’s story inspired her… and she thought that if a young girl could deal and live with arthritis, so could she. It was one of those moments, where in an instant, I am reminded of the blessings that have come to us because of this disease. Not that I would ever have wished this for my daughter… and not that I wouldn’t have gladly taken it from her at the first opportunity…. but I sort have a belief that there is meaning behind these things. We don;t always get to have the distance and perspective to see or understand the meaning, but I often console myself that things seem to be part of a higher purpose or scheme. I can believe that maybe because Caitlin has learned to live with the hand dealt to her, she can help others do the same, and even help kids of the future get a different hand entirely. And it’s in moments like the one I shared with Kathleen this morning that I am reminded of how blessed we are – even because of the disease – because of all the wonderful people it has brought into our lives.
And certainly witnessing all these riders, and getting to be a small part of this event, has been one of those blessings.