On Saturday, October 8, 2016 at precisely 9:00 a.m., I along with many of my SAP colleagues, folks from other companies, and friends and family, stood at attention as we listened to the Star Spangled Banner sang by a Blue Star Mom and now family member of a veteran, Georganne Seavy. No, this was not a corporate outing at a baseball park, and no, we were not at a football stadium getting ready to watch a game. We were getting ready to ride our bikes in the Cycling 4 Veterans (C4V) ride, a charity fundraising cycling event dedicated to honoring and supporting our military veterans.
Without the dedicated men and women in uniforms protecting our country and way of life throughout the decades, our country would be very different than it is today– I would not be at liberty to be writing this blog post right now. It is also very possible that without the aid of our military, I would not be an avid cyclist, and I would probably never have joined SAP. In fact, I don’t think I can imagine how things would be without our military.
With a renewed sense of dedication and our water bottles full, we were led out by a veteran motorcycle escort. Our 55-mile journey began with a warm-up climb up Collier Canyon. Though not very steep, it certainly gets your heart pumping. I quickly pushed my way forward to the lead pack. We then turned right and began traversing across northern Livermore. Here is where the pace really quickened and the benefits of pace line riding (a single file line of cyclists with a rotation for wind protection) were realized. The roads of northern Livermore are pancake flat farm roads, and without any hills–it’s heads down and push on. Riding in a pace line requires a lot of concentration, experience, and trust. One simple mistake, and the group may splinter, or worse, there may be a crash. If successfully orchestrated, however, the result is cycling bliss with a high speed traverse across the terrain.
With our water bottles full, we headed out to start the climb of Patterson Pass. It was at this point where the pace line broke up, and we cycled at our own pace. Given our various riding abilities, mountain climbing is pretty much an individual sport. Patterson Pass is a wicked mountain. It’s narrow, windy, fully exposed to sun, and there is even a false summit. The finishing climb is a slap-in-the-face 12% grade. I think I could even hear the mountain laughing at me as it just sat there absorbing my pain and frustration as I made the climb. It was at this point that I thought of the title of this blog post, “Dedication wins all races!”. Only with dedication and determination can you overcome obstacles. If our military can take a bullet for me, I can certainly deal with this mountain.
As I crested the mountain with sweat dripping from my helmet and the sting of salt in my eyes, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment and relief–and then the fun began. This is one of the reason cyclists climb mountains. What goes up must come down, and down I went. Patterson is a FAST descent, and it allowed me to reach 50MPH (shhh, don’t tell the cops).
Having separated from everyone due to the climb, at this point I was riding alone. I did manage to meet up with another cyclist who was not riding C4V but happened to be going in the same direction. So, we traded pulls into the wind as we hammered down Tesla Road.
I then caught up to some of the 30-mile riders, one of which was riding with a Team RWB jersey. I asked him what RWB meant, and he said it stands for Red, White, and Blue. Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. He told me that one of the problems veterans face when returning from active duty is fitting into society. He said that activities like cycling, hiking, and running really help veterans make a personal connection with other people and their surroundings.
With the chit-chat out of the way, we pressed on towards the finish. In no time at all, we rounded the corner and approached the place where we started the day listening to the Star Spangled Banner, and as we got to the finish line, we were greeted with cheers.
Until next year… mission accomplished!
Again, I want to thank the men and women of our military forces for their dedication, commitment and sacrifice they made, for without it, our world would be a very different place. I also want to recognize all of our SAP employees who are contributing to Month of Service, and I encourage you to reflect back on your experience and blog about it.
Team SAP Captain and Executive Committee Member