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300 Miles for Mentoring

Local cyclists raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters
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By HARDY BULLOCK  |  Moonshine Ink

To say that the first ride was an experience would be an understatement. The most any of us had ever ridden in one shot was about 135 miles. But our plan was simple, take three guys and get them on their bikes headed from the sea to the crest of the Sierras. We recruited every single buddy we knew to donate money, morale support, food, vehicles, lights, and houses along the way. The result was an experience and reward beyond our wildest dreams. We rode 300 miles in 30 hours, non-stop.

The Inspiration

The idea started seven years ago when we would ride our bikes from the Pacific Ocean to Truckee in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County.

My friend, Dr. Dena Valin, who was the executive director of BBBS at the time, recounted her work, and it was her dedication to support local underprivileged youth that struck a chord with me. As a father of two I had a sense of obligation to lend a hand in raising kids who needed just a bit more help to get by. Before I started working with BBBS I didn’t know any littles — a name given to children involved in the project — or any bigs, for that matter. I had no idea how many kids in my community were just on the program’s waitlist or how difficult it is to find funds to pay for programs that help children.

Girls and boys alike benefit from the support and guidance of an adult mentor and that is what BBBS does; it pairs children with a positive role model who teaches their littles to be part of the community, to be part of a solution, to love others, and, most importantly, to be loved themselves.

The Wheels Started to Turn

As Valin described her work, I knew that this was a project I wanted to be part of, so we hatched a plan to raise money. I signed up for a two day stage race and solicited donations from my friends. We raised $3,000 that year. Now, just seven years later, we have raised more than $100,000 for BBBS. Those same friends and donors became part of the ride, part of the experience, and part of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The following year, in 2009, we took our first big ride from Fort Bragg to Truckee. The ride lasted about 300 miles and so our name was born: 300 Miles for Mentoring.

Seven years later, we are still riding all over Northern California. Twenty-five people cared enough to simply say, “I’m in!” We had long stretches of flats across the valley, hot climbs in the foothills, freezing cold nights on desolate stretches of roads, crashes, injuries, car wrecks, drunk drivers, dogs, guns, cops, weed, wrong turns, bad directions, and lots and lots of my wife Kimmie’s famous burritos.

Weird things can happen in the middle of the night. One night in the boondocks an old fella walked out of his house and called into the night, “What the heck are you all doing!” We replied, “We are riding bikes.” Following a long silence his reply echoed thru the moonlit trees, “Bikes are for kids… during the daytime. Now hit the road!” My reply is, yes, these bikes are actually for kids.

What we got is an opportunity to be part of a whole bunch of lives, with kids and people who are challenging the setbacks. In the same moment we each received an opportunity to look closely at ourselves, at our fears, at our own shortcomings, and at our own challenges. We got so much more than we can express. Sometimes articulating those feelings is difficult unless you have shared the experience. Today, the ride is an ultra-distance annual event shared by people from all over California. Big Brothers Big Sisters continues to help children right here in Truckee every single day.
This year’s ride will take riders from Truckee through the dirt trails of the foothills down to Auburn and back beginning Friday, Sept. 25 at 6 a.m. Special thanks go out to all the people that make this organization work.

For more information, contact Peggy Martin at, (530) 587-7717.

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March 14, 2019