September 14, 2019 – Completion of the Journey BBQ
We had the Completion Of The Journey BBQ on September 14 at Paul and Annie Barendregt’s home in Lafayette and a number of Laura’s Ride supporters joined us. The food was great, featuring BBQ ribs, delicious rib eye roast, a fantastic carrot cake – I can provide contact info for the pastry chef – and great food provided by the participants. The setting is beautiful and the weather was all we could have hoped for.
I thanked all who attended and observed that by this time, I am sure that many were thinking, “what, again?”
However, this time was special to me because I considered it to be both the Completion Of The Journey and the start of a new journey.
In truth, the Journey that was recently completed just happened because it certainly wasn’t in my mind when Nick and I rode from Santa Monica to St. Augustine back in 2016. Then when I rode from Astoria to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I was so sure that that was the end of it that I had my bike repainted with a map that said “Twice Across.” Nor did I have a journey in mind when I decided to ride from Quebec City to Key West. It was only when I looked at a map of the 3 rides that a certain logic jumped out at me. After having ridden 3 sides of the country, I had to complete the journey around the USA by riding border to border on the west coast.
When I reached Tijuana on August 20 after having left Vancouver on July 16, I was relieved that I could now say, “Twice Across + 2.” I was proud that the Journey had been completed.
The Journey has twice crossed the border into and out of Canada, the first time on Laura’s Ride North and then again this year on Laura’s Ride West Coast. It has also crossed the border into Mexico. The rides have totaled more than 11,000 miles, over 280,000 feet of climbing and they have gone through 28 states, 3 Canadian provinces and into one Mexican state.
More importantly, the Journey has now raised somewhat more than $50,000 to help late stage breast cancer patients. Included in that number is the more than $11,000 that was raised this year. (The sum took an especially nice jump when Nick Bloisa pledged $500.00 at the BBQ especially since an anonymous donor had pledged to match up to $500 donated by the end of September 14.)
The $50,000 number makes it clear that I didn’t complete the Journey by myself. I didn’t donate that $50,000, you and others like you did. Ultimately, that is what made the Journey worthwhile. It was worthwhile because that money goes to help late stage breast cancer victims. We all know someone who has suffered from that awful malady. It was all of the people who donated to the 4 Laura’s Rides who contributed the $50,000+.
With few exceptions, the you and others like you are people who know either Nick, Sandi or me personally. It would have been great if we had gotten a lot of contributions like the $100 that a stranger handed me in a motel parking lot in Crescent City just because of our cause. However, I am humbled and grateful that almost all of the donations came because of your connection with Nick, Sandi or me. We thank you for that friendship.
I also didn’t do the Journey by myself because it took help. It took the help of Adam Hanin and Maria Bishop who set up and then managed our website. Maria has been my assistant since I started my own practice some 40 years ago. The fact that she has stuck with me for so long says something about her patience and tolerance. I have often said that if someone can’t get along with Maria, it is their fault, not hers. Maria has been of great help with all of the Laura’s Rides, including such things as collecting and keeping track of your donations and, this year, entering all of the content, including my posts, into the laurasride.org website. I owe Maria more than 40 years of gratitude.
Completing the Journey also took Sandi’s help, not only because she handled our social media was instrumental in the fund raising, but because she kept our home together while I was gone for months at a time. Also, despite some people who I ride with expressing doubt that I would make it across the country even once, Sandi, together with a couple of close friends, said that they never doubted I would make it. They are well acquainted with my stubbornness or, as Paul said, with my ego that wouldn’t let me not do what I had set out to do.
It also took your help in providing a very strong motivation to just keep going at those times when I didn’t want to. I knew you weren’t going to ask for your money back if I didn’t finish the ride, but my ego (see, Paul was right) wasn’t going to let me stop after the support you had given me.
Finally, there is no way I could have done the rides without Alejandra Garcia Aragon. With the exception of a few weeks of last year’s ride when Patty Levin and Johnny Ward drove and Patty handled the logistics for the balance of the trip, Ale was there throughout the entire Journey. She was essential. She drove the truck and she packed and unpacked it on a daily basis. She handled most of our logistics – booking lodging and finding dining – and she met me with cold drinks, food and an air conditioned truck during most of the rides when I needed it. Her unwavering faith that I would finish the rides despite my frequent complaining helped keep me going. The company and friendship she provided at the end of each day helped offset the homesickness that was part of the Journey. As a result of the Journey, Ale has seen much more of our country than most Americans have and she saw it up close and personal because of the leisurely pace. She also had to put up with me for more than 7 months and that says something about how strong she is.
A special thank you goes to Annie and Paul Barendregt who so graciously hosted this year’s and last year’s welcome back gatherings at their home. A similar thank you goes to Sal and Kat Italiano who hosted one of the launch parties at their home. I will also note that Paul and Annie through Very Nice Pools and Sal through SPI Consulting Engineers, Inc. have been Sponsors of all 4 rides. Others who have sponsored all 4 rides are Sam Ishaq through Andoil, Ben Shimek through Petroleum Sales, Inc., Michael Stephens, Probate, Estate and Trust Realtor through Highland Partners, my brother-in-law Russ Horning through Liquid Blue Productions, ClifBar, Perez & Miller, APC and, of course, the Lazarex Cancer Foundation. Greg Hunter through Hunter & Company Certified Public Accountants, LLP was a Sponsor in 2018 and 2019, Shimano was a Sponsors of Laura’s Ride West Coast and Formigli was a past sponsor. Special thanks go to all of them.
The bottom line is that although I did the pedaling, I know how important your support was and I want to thank you for that. THANK YOU!
I started this post by mentioning the start of a new journey. That new journey started in Rosarito Beach. In my last post I included a photo of my sandy knees that I said had some significance that I hinted I would disclose later. Well, now is that later. While walking along the water in Rosarito Beach just south of Tijuana on August 20, the day I Completed The Journey around the USA on a bicycle, I went down on my knees in the sand and asked Sandi to become my wife. I am very happy to say that she accepted and I am pleased to start that next, more exciting journey, with her.
Reflections on the completed Journey are yet to be written.