Sunday, September 23, 2012

Family and Friends

Sunday Sept 23, 2012  Oxnard to Marina del Rey

I have to say that today was a really great day and not just because I can see the finish line (and no...unlike a certain former Alaskan governor, I can not see Alaska from my front yard).  First of all, the weather was beautiful, warm and sunny all day long.  Second of all, we got to ride down the Pacific Coast Highway and see spectacular surf, scenery and neighbourhoods.  Thirdly, we spent a couple of hours with some of Mark's family which was special (thanks Lyle and Cynthia for hosting us today). Finally we had our last dinner together and we had the opportunity to express ourselves and say what this ride and this group mean to us...WOW a really full day.

Started off the day at a missile park near Oxnard.

Beautiful view along the Pacific Coast Highway

Mark Koltz and me.

You know who and me.
We rode the whole day today with Mark Koltz.  We started off at a missile park near Oxnard and then we got on the Pacific Coast Highway.  There was very little traffic for the first 20 miles and we made very short work of the miles.  I was able to keep up with both Mark's and before I knew it we were at Zuma Beach at the SAG (for those of you who don't know, SAG = support and gear; Mark's cousins Lyle and Cynthia asked us today what SAG means, sorry I thought I'd explained that one). Several of the riders went down to the water to dip their toes in the Pacific but we kept on moving.  After climbing out of the beach area we continued along the PCH all the way through Malibu and into Santa Monica.  From there we cycled along a bike path along Venice Beach and into our hotel in Marina del Rey.

Mark and I were in Santa Monica for our cousin Brooke's wedding in February and we walked for hours on the bike path that we rode on today.  In February we talked about how we would be riding here in September, and wow, that day was today.  Kind of amazing that we got here this time from Astoria and under our own power.  It was also way warmer today and the beaches were filled with the strangest kind of human beings.

No, these are not the strange people from the beach!  This is Mark's family and they are quite normal.
After checking in (our room was not ready so we had to beg for a switcheroo) we showered and changed and got ready for the family part of the day.  Mark's cousins Jenny, Susan and Steven picked us up and drove us to his cousin Lyle and Cynthia's house for a family get together.  It was incredibly nice of Lyle and Cynthia to host this event and I was able to snap the picture above of the family reunion.   They have a great house and we wished we had more time to spend with all of them.

3 Susan Weisbarth's (it's a long story)
Tonight was the ABB final banquet and we had a nice dinner at a restaurant near the hotel.  Then we came back to the hotel and everyone had a chance to speak to the group to say whatever they wanted.  Many of the riders spoke of what this ride has meant to them and the room was filled with warm feelings and words of thanks.  We all expressed our thanks to Mike, Barb, Karen and Jim for making this ride safe and for getting us here.  Mike prepared a montage of some of the pictures he's taken over the last 23 days and we all loved seeing them.  Tracey brought his guitar and sang a beautiful rendition of "America the Beautiful".  We were all touched and quite "feklempt".  ABB tradition dictates that a map of the route be given to one rider who inspired the rest of the group and that honour was given to Tracey.  Tracey is someone who despite physical challenges none of us have to deal with, rode every inch of this route with an amazing attitude, smiling all the way.  I will always remember his cheerful support while riding into a 25 mile an hour headwind on an 80 mile day.  We all applauded this choice, hugged and said our goodbyes.  Although we will see everyone tomorrow for our short 50 mile day, tonight was the symbolic end of the trip.

I'll have more to say about the end of this adventure tomorrow but for now, I just want to get through tomorrow safely.

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