I was able to sneak in some visits with some family and great friends on Friday before all of our Million Dollar Challenge (MDC) meetings started. It was great to see everyone though it was not enough!
My Friday consisted of 3 MDC meetings- Challenged Athlete orientation, freshman orientation and a welcome ceremony. At my Challenged Athlete orientation, I met my handler Willie. My handler is a volunteer who is their to assist me if I need help. I’ve enjoyed getting to know WiIie so far. She has been a CAF volunteer for many years which I love to hear! The freshman orientation gave all newbies to the ride the rundown of the week. Eeek! This made me so anxious and excited at the same time!
After that, the entire group had a Welcome Reception which was really fun! While I have been training with most San Diego based riders over the course of the summer, there were many new faces who are participating but not from San Diego! Every rider also received an envelope with a note about a recent CAF grantee. We were able to read their stories and also received their name on a bracelet to wear or keep on our bikes this week. My CAF grantee is Daniel who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident. Reading Daniel’s story made me wonder if any CAF fundraiser ever read my story when I first applied for a running prosthetic.
On Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early and prepared my many bags for departure. I was so eager I ended up being the 1st one out to the luggage truck! We still had quite a bit of time to eat breakfast and lounge before rolling out at 7:30 but boy was I ready to get this thing started!
Breakfast was fun as every meal has been. This group of riders is not only fun but incredibly friendly. There is never a time where you aren’t meeting someone new or learning more about another rider.
As we prepared to roll out for our first day, we heard the story of Chase, a member of the CAF community, who recently lost his battle with Muscular Dystrophy. Chase always had a positive outlook and this led his classmates to created the Chase Challenge. We were all given bracelets to wear and each time you complained, you would switch the bracelet to your other arm. This encouraged us to think about complaining about things others are not fortunate enough to experience.
We rolled out of San Francisco with a police escort which was pretty cool! It was Day 1 and we were all VERY eager and pushing ourselves really hard. I kept trying to remind myself I had 6 more days of this and to save my legs. But it was hard! We were cruising and it was just so beautiful! We rode through many sleepy beach towns which I loved!
It wasn’t all easy, I felt my gluts (okay… my butt) after only 10 miles and was a little worried. Climbing hurt a bit but that’s to be expected just not this early on! As I struggled a bit through some pain, I kept thinking about Chase and how I should enjoy every second (even the pain) of this experience since so many others are not able enough to do so. I also thought a lot about my CAF grantee. Had someone asked me 10 years ago if I’d be riding down the state, I would have laughed! And I hope my CAF grantee has that same WOW! moment in 10 years as well.
Late afternoon of Day 1 led us to our first special SAG stop- PIE! It was a cute little mom and pop pie shop outside of Santa Cruz. I enjoyed some fresh Strawberry Shortcake. Then we cruised through beautiful Santa Cruz and up (a very steeeeeep up) to our hotel.
Each evening, we have dinner and a program. Our first night was a Q&A with Jamie Whitmore, another Challenged Athlete. This woman is phenomenal! She has so much determination. Learn more about Jamie here: http://www.jamiewhitmore.com/.
I slept like a baby that night! So after Day 1- SF to Santa Cruz- 86 miles done!
I was a little sore when I got up on Sunday morning. I headed to breakfast rocking some Chargers socks because even if I can’t watch the game, I have to rep my team! We rolled out and boyyy was I sore. I was worried. My knees were aching in a way I hadn’t experienced before but I knew I was here to accomplish a goal and I am going to push through to finish. After warming up for a bit I felt much better. We rode from Santa Cruz to Monterey and then rode along 17 mile drive. WOW! I never ever thought I’d get to experience these sights on a bike! It was so fun! We ate lunch in Carmel and then rode up and down some incredibly windy and gorgeous spots on the way to Big Sur. We made it through Big Sur to our hotel in the woods after that. This afternoon’s snacks and cocktail hour theme were Oktoberfest. So of course we enjoyed some beer, brats and pretzels. Yum!
Day 2 has been my favorite out of the two days. Mileage was 89- Santa Cruz to Big Sur.
Tomorrow is one of our longest days- 114- Big Sur to Pismo Beach. It is going to be so challenging but I know i can accomplish it! I just have to be in before dark! Let’s rollllll!
P.S. Sorry about the lack of pictures. We don’t have cell service in Big Sur so I’m unable to get them onto my computer. Tomorrow!