October 15, 2022

Leveled Up

As the years ticked by, I would sometimes wonder how many more 100-mile editions of the Best Buddies Hearst Castle Challenge I could complete. I imagined that a day would come when I'd scale it back to the 100 km route (as I did for the loop route in 2018, when the temperature soared). Every trip down the coast was different; if 2019 was to be our last, we were blessed with a beautiful day.

Who expected the world around us would change? After 2020's do-it-yourself challenge, we (cautiously) gathered for a small event in the hills of Marin last year. On the heels of that success, the ride returned this year—but to a different (and incomparable) venue.

I was grateful to stretch my legs on a short hike before dinner after Friday's long drive. And dinner, well ... it was my first indoor dinner since The Before Times. [This will be fine ...] A majestic dining room, filled with tables of humans seated elbow to elbow—some of whom had traveled internationally for this event. Like Thomas Pidcock, who'd joined our little afternoon hike.
It was a special privilege to be a guest in this amazing place. (Not to mention being spared the stress of navigating a twisty rural road before dawn to get here and get ready to ride.)
What a joy it was simply to step outside and roll my bike to the start line!
To finish with enough time to get cleaned up and enjoy lunch, I needed to maintain a brisk pace. No time to admire the redwoods as we pedaled through Samuel P. Taylor State Park.

We rode a clockwise loop this year, heading north on Highway 1 past Tomales Bay. [Is it ever sunny here?] At least the mist was lighter this year; no drizzle.

In the weeks leading up to today, I'd been putting in the miles with after-work rides, following up with some weekend climbing and more distance. [It paid off.] I kept the lead group in sight for miles. The route started with a five-mile descent ... which we would reverse at the end, to reach the finish line. [Gulp.] And the route profile showed a significant climb at mile 54.
I've biked many of these roads before, in the opposite direction. I paused briefly at Laguna Lake; surely there were still many people behind me? Few had passed me, and I'd passed a few.

We were well-supported by a team of domestiques, outfitted with race-caliber radios. I didn't need their physical assistance, but with their companionship and friendly conversation I stopped focusing on how many miles remained.

I finished the route—72 miles, less than 4,000 feet of climbing—at an average (moving) pace of 13.6 mph. (My fastest pace for a Best Buddies Challenge since 2014.) And yet, I was still one of the last riders across the line. How could that be?

Well. When I'd asked a domestique about the folks behind us, he explained that most would be “taking the car.” [Sigh.] I'm a rare old bird (who doesn't act her age). I actually want to do the whole ride.

And I did.


  1. Pat,

    Thank you for all you do for others less fortunate. I admire you and am proud to call you a friend.


  2. Congrats on another Best Buddies ride! Thanks for all you do for BB. And thanks as always for your blog and photos!