The Inspirational Ride to Defeat ALS, Napa Valley

A few weeks ago, my husband Jesse and good friend Nate road in the Ride to Defeat ALS in Napa Valley with Team Mazzetti.  Even though I did not participate I was very glad I went for many reasons.  It was a great experience for our family, as well as seeing my husband's co-workers/friends ride together as a team.

My children and I slept in while my husband woke up early in the wee hours of the morning to meet up with his team at the starting line.  We had spent the night in the Napa Valley region so there was no risk being late!  In the late morning my kids and I headed over to the Calistoga Area to wait at one of the rest stops.  I had been following my husband on a new iPhone app called "Find Friends" but I don't know if I misread the map or GPS but I couldn't figure out where Team Mazzetti was.

I eventually figured out I came out to the race too early so I headed out to find a park and found a playground at Pioneer Park in downtown Calistoga.  The kids happily played for about an hour until I realized Team Mazzetti was near by, so we hopped in the car and headed to find the team taking a break in Napa Valley's beautiful vineyards! (picture above)

The kids had been away from daddy all day and they were having "daddy withdrawals", so we made sure the kids got lots of hugs from Jesse.  One of the team members could no longer ride, so after we said our goodbyes we shuttled him back to the finish line at the Yountville Veterans Home.

I had been to two rest stops and later at the finish line...the one thing that amazed and inspired me was a particular family who had a sign that said, "You are doing this for my daddy!!" and it literally broke my heart.  At the same time it brought the significance of the ride, that this was not a race but truly a ride to defeat ALS.  Not only were the families present but people with minor ALS were participating in the ride as well as being present at the finish line.

Over the past couple of months, it has come to our attention that family members of our friends have passed away from ALS.  Jason Fried, a fellow outdoor family blogger (1 Quest 2 The Next), was open enough to share with me that his father passed away NINE WEEKS after he was diagnosed with ALS, nine weeks.... Another friend of ours, Kevin shared with my husband that at the age of 12, his mother passed away from the "horrible condition" after six years of battling with ALS.  This whole process has changed my significance of races with running, riding, etc., to truly finding the meaning behind these activities.

60 Miles - Family Rider!!
My second inspiration was this riding family!!  I'm assuming the woman I saw riding near by was the wife/mother, she's not pictured but she was right behind them.  I saw them at the 60 mile course and my husband briefly spoke to them at one of the rest stops.  I thought to myself to ride 60 miles as a family....that takes dedication! We've recently taken up biking as a family and my kids can barely take 20 miles in the bike trailer so I can appreciate the time and effort that this family did to train

If anyone knows the family pictured above, please forward the link to them and pass on my email to them:

The Finish Line
I think I had tears in my eyes the entire time we waited for Team Mazzetti.  With every rider came cheers, hugs and riders almost passing out! Teenagers, women, men, elderly riders crossed the finish line all with smiles on their faces, some riders saying the ride's motto "NEVER GIVE UP".  My kids played in the leaves, climbed trees for and hour and a half while we waited for Team Mazzetti to finish.  At last, one by one Team Mazzetti came in and all of their FIRST Century Ride was over.

My kids were happy to have their daddy back, Team Mazzetti was happy to have finished, and I was happy to have seen this great ride.  This has left me with the desired to ride next years Ride to Defeat ALS with my kids! My goal is to ride the 27 mile ride towing my two kids, while my husband does the Century Ride and not only for the fun of it but because it is truly a great way to support this cause.

Thank you to all who supported us by donating financially, both Jesse and Nate met their fundraising goals as well as Team Mazzetti raised over $2,000 combined!  Thank you all who supported us with giving us a place to stay, prayers and sending good vibes!  I truly pray and hope someday there is a way to Defeat ALS as well as other health issues that plague our communities like cancer, mental illness and many others.

Looking forward to next year's Ride to Defeat ALS!

To read about an actual riders point of view, please visit Nate Rische's post "Road Race Report: It's Supposed to Hurt Like Hell!" on The Absence of Something Substantial.  

Related Posts and Links:
  1. Training for a Cause - Ride to Defeat ALS
  2. Road Race Report: "It's Supposed to Hurt Like Hell!" by Nathan Rische
  3. 1 Quest 2 The Next