Best Buddies. An amazing non-profit organization that through volunteers, creates friendship, employment, and leadership for people with intellectual and development disabilities. An amazing charity.
Audi Best Buddies Challenge Hearst Castle. An amazing ride from Carmel to San Simeon that through team formation and donations, raises money to support such an awesome charity. It is more then just a ride, it is an experience. A Five Star Ride.
SVB. Silicon Valley Bank, one of Team TIBCO’s main sponsors. Also, the top fundraising team of the Best Buddies Challenge, not to mention the FASTEST team across the line for the 100mile ride (these guys are FIT and STRONG). A group of successful, caring people, driven to dedicating themselves to not only their own individual and company health and fitness, but also donating and volunteering for Best Buddies. The SVB team, with 67 members, raised 117,460.25 for the cause. Incredible. I take great pride in my inspiring sponsors.
The Challenge, which came in differing distances, from 100miles, 100k, 35miles, or 15miles, inspired people to get active, to train to ride, walk, run, and have it go for a cause. The ride was breathtaking. 100miles on Hwy1, fully supported and escorted. It was a true 5star ride.
I envisioned great support and food, meandering down the coast stopping every 20miles eating another danish, having some coffee, and casually arrive in San Simeon. Perhaps even stopping for photo opportunities of Big Sur, elephant seals, and the scenery. Wrong. Best Buddies can be a race (for those that desire such a challenge). May the best team win. SVB has been the reigning champions of the ride, and were determined to not let their winning streak end. They had trained, they had recruited pro riders (this is where I come in), and they were ready to dominate. Wait, what about the rest stops? We don’t stop they told me. We press on towards our goal, and we win. Uh oh. I thought my season was coming to an end? But, what is a group ride without a little friendly competition? I’m in. 7am start. Game On. The start was very pro. Big banners, bands, and I even got a VIP “call-up”. Ah. Life is good as a pro.
We rolled down the coast alongside very supportive CHP officers (closed the road for us), and the new Audi R8. This car is sweet with a V10, but was escorting us going 20+mph instead of the blistering speeds it was built for. The driver entertained me with blaring country music along the way. Great support, like I said. The first rest stop flew by without a care, and we kept spinning out the miles. Some pro Jelly Belly and Garmin riders were also there. Finally, on mile 70, I HAD to stop. I sprinted ahead to take a quick natural break, and someone thought I was attacking. Panic ensued and as I jumped back on my bike, the “peloton” was nowhere in sight. Ouch. I had to chase, chase, chase to get back on… I was on the bike recovering, when LJ told me it was time for the “plan” and to get to the front. I had spent most of the day on the front keeping the pace steady, but high. Brooke explained the plan… We were going to leadout Aaron. It was 7miles to go. She said keep the pace high, then light it up with 1miles to go. A 7mile leadout? Ok, I do what I am told. I got to the front and started riding tempo. I had to cover some last minute surges. Aaron cramped with 1mile to go. We had to improvise, and get Greg on my wheel, Brooke jumped. We did not win the sprint, but we were close. We got to the end of the ride to a beautiful BBQ (grass fed Hearst Ranch Beef) on a warm beach in San Simeon, and massages. So pro. So five star.
That was just the beginning. We went up to the Hearst Ranch to participate in the Friendship Races, which was a criterium on tandem bikes, with a “buddy”. My buddy was Nathan, and we were ready to rock. It was awesome to participate in this event, and make Nathan laugh, smile and have a blast. It was my first time on a tandem bike, and it was challenging, but we were along for the ride. I like being a Best Buddy. Although we didn’t win, at least we didn’t crash like Miss USA! Nathan and I were victorious on so many levels.
After a quick transition, we went up to the gourmet BBQ at the ranch. There was a private concert by Ciara, and the best food EVER. SVB got a classic “podium” for being the top team, and I was proud to be a part of such a great group of individuals were are successful on so many levels. The rest of the party was up at the castle (VIP only), Hearst Castle, in the Neptune Pool (which is spring fed and non-chlorinated) and private tours (which is pretty extensive in a 90,000sqf mansion). And I thought the ride was 5star? I was in for an even larger then life experience.
Throughout the weekend, I not only made great friends, life changing buddies, but reconnected with some of our inspiring sponsors that not only support my dreams and ambitions, but provide opportunities for those that are not as fortunate as myself. I can only begin to count down the days until next year’s Best Buddies Challenge. Start training to win again, because everyone feels the success at the end of the day there. Everyone is supporting a great cause, gaining fitness, and interacting with friends and those that need friends. An epic weekend, where everyone is treated to a 5 star royalty.
The Best Buddies Challenge was a success. Sign me up next year!