Circled up at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, 38 men – surrounded by friends and family – looked optimistically at one another, eager to start their jounrey. With sun shining, birds chirping, and the air crisp, we were off on a 70 mile ride to Napa. As a cyclist, this was my first real opportunity to test out that which I had been training for these past few months.
The ride itself presented new challenges to a kid from the midwest who had never cycled up any real hills prior to the trip. The ride was picturesque as we transitioned from the cityscapes of San Francisco to the beautiful wine country of Napa Valley. As we completed our first ride, all that we had learned about group riding at orientation came together for a safe arrival at the First United Methodist Church. While the ride itself was an accomplishment it was only eclipsed by the friendship visit we had with a baseball league for people with disabilities.
We rolled into a beautiful park eager to fulfill the true purpose of the trip. As we left the vans, a thunderous downpour fell from the sky and without skipping a beat, we helped our sponsors move all of the food into a nearby pavillion. While we didn’t expect the rain, the new venue allowed all of us, sponsors and team members, to work together and laugh together. What was particularly inspiring for me was the joy each and every client expressed as we shared the meal together. I am truly thankful to have had the opportunity to be a cyclist on this route and look forward to the many hands we shake, the hot dogs we eat, and the relationships we build as we continue this trek to Washington D.C.
Wil Gradle – Western Illinois University ’17