The Thrill of Making a Difference

Posted on 11/26/2012 by

Scott Birnbaum

A few weeks before I had first scheduled my 2nd annual Gears for Giving 2012 ride for charity, I was riding to work on an overcast August day with the ground wet from a recent rain shower.  I was zooming along, really pedaling hard.  As I entered an intersection with a series of crisscrossing train tracks, I made a slight turn and my front wheel slid on one of the tracks. I flew off my bike, hitting the pavement very hard, landing head first. I was very lucky to have been wearing a helmet.  I slid along the pavement in a bit of shock.  As I was in a traffic lane even though dazed, I grabbed my bike and hastened to the curb.  I felt pain in so many areas.

I ended up at the hospital only to find that emergency rooms are filled with guys thinking they are years younger than they really are. I was really lucky having just suffered some road rash, a sprained wrist and a bruised ego.  I realized that I needed to postpone my Gears for Giving charity ride to heal. It took a few weeks before I could get back on my bike, but I began training again in earnest, determined not to miss this opportunity to make a difference to the kids at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

The Amazing Ride – “Wow”

Finally, it was the day of the big ride and the weather was spectacular. I started out in Half Moon Bay, enjoying eggs, waffles and juice for breakfast before sunrise.   I hopped on my bike, feeling great as I clicked in and pedaled off even though I did not get much sleep the night before. My route was along the California coast all the way to Carmel. It’s a gorgeous strip of land that is even more unbelievable to see by bicycle. 

There was little traffic as I headed down the two-lane Cabrillo Highway. After a great start, I got to my first big climb.  Since I was on a new bike (my previous one having been stolen a month ago in San Francisco), without a third front bracket, I was not sure how hard it would be to pedal up a steep hill. Hill one traversed, no problem.  As I snapped pictures along the way, I found that the real beauty of the ride could never be captured properly, even with the world’s best camera.

During the 11 hours that the ride took, I stopped briefly at idyllic spots, usually not because I needed a break, but to appreciate some incredible scenery.  Mile after mile, I saw so many memorable sights – majestic cliffs, crashing waves, endless beaches, grazing deer, a snake scurrying off my bike path, gorgeous birds, large lounging sea lions and so much more. 

As I turned back onto the Route One, the two lane country rode had become a busy multi-lane freeway. I quickly knew something was wrong. I had no choice, but to press on as cars sped by me at 65 miles an hour.  It wasn’t long before a police officer pulled up behind me.  He said, “looks like you took a wrong turn.”  He then smiled and proceeded to provide me with a police escort to safety, getting me to a bike path just outside of Monterey.

The Thrill of the Finish

When you are riding by yourself, you have quite a bit of time to reflect. It is really a peaceful feeling.  As you tune out day-to-day issues and focus on the beauty of nature, you realize that what matters most are family and friends – and making a positive difference in the world.  As the sun was starting to set and I was getting close to Carmel, I shot a shot video along 17 Mile drive (see the link to get a sense of what I experienced). This breathtaking ride along Pebble Beach is jam packed with amazing homes, an unbelievable golf course and dramatic ocean views with spectacular sunsets . Here’s a brief video that captures my adventure.

GearsforGiving2 <click to view video>

Your thoughts and words of encouragement helped me push forward as I tired, knowing that by crossing the imaginary finish line at the beach in Carmel, 109 miles after starting early that morning, we were making a real difference in the world.  You and I really were helping a very important cause by providing funding for treatment and fueling more hope for children.

Thank you all for being supporters and heroes. Together we were able to raise over $10K for the kids at St. Jude’s Research Hospital.

 

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