Some years ago, the time had come for my mom to downsize. The house was sold, and the utility company sent a representative to shut off the water and record a final meter reading. Looking at the name on his work order, he asked “Do you have a daughter named ... ?”
There was another student in our class who was ... bored. Insufficiently challenged. Our teachers understood this, and so it came to pass that I tutored M. My best friend and I developed lesson plans, and part of our education was teaching M.
That same M who now stood before my mom, with a decent job and a family. I had made a difference in his life, and he remembered.
Best Buddies then, but that is who we tried to be. That summer, I did more tutoring and worked with special needs children. I would choose a different path for my career, but with the indulgent support of my friends I now ride each year to support the work of Best Buddies.
This year marked the tenth anniversary of the Best Buddies Hearst Castle Challenge—the seventh ride for me. With some racers and former Olympians at the front, the century riders set off at a blistering pace. I lost contact with the lead group by mile five, despite sustaining an average speed of 18.6 mph over the first ten miles. At the one-hour mark, I had covered 17 miles and climbed some 580 feet. Only 83 miles and 5,750 feet of climbing to go ...
iconic bridge. By mile 60, it hugged the coast and swallowed the view. For the last 13 miles, I regretted two things equally: the lack of a taillight and the lack of a tailwind. I hammered that stretch as best I could, averaging 15 mph and sweeping past four very tired guys. As I closed in on the fourth, he rose out of the saddle in a vain attempt to defend his position; the other three never gave chase. [You know a guy is spent when he lets a woman pass, unchallenged.]
Piedra Blanca Rancho. I was fortunate again to close out the night partying on the patio behind Casa del Monte. And of course, frolicking in the Neptune Pool. One of the Castle's resident bats circled overhead before dropping down for a quick sip of the pool's fresh spring water.
There is no better way to see the California coastline than from the seat of a bicycle. Next year, I'll be back: same charity, same coast.