On June 15, our Executive Director Emeritus, Peter Verbiscar-Brown rode the infamous Terrible Two here in Sonoma County, one of the toughest 200-mile bicycle events in California! He trained for 6 months with vast hill climbing, but 200 miles with 18,000 feet of elevation gain was beyond what he had attempted before. Following the ride, Peter traveled to Uganda to visit Global Partners for Development supported women’s groups, and to meet sponsored girls in Global Partners’ scholarship program. And to Tanzania, where he gave the keynote address at a Global Partners sponsored forum on Sustainable Development.
Support Peter by donating at gpfd.org/donate/ (Note: select “other” from the “Where would you like your donation to go?” drop-down menu and write “Peter’s Terrible Two” in the text box that appears)! Contributions to his ride will educate girls through Global Partners for Development supported organizations in Uganda and Tanzania. Providing the opportunity for girls to continue their education to finish high school, and go on to higher education or vocational skills training, is a powerful tool for positive change. And without ado, here’s the story of Peter’s big bicycle ride and trip!
I finished right at 11 pm after 17 1/2 hours on the bike, which landed me the last spot on the finishers’ roster. Six months ago, inspired by the event t-shirt design, I began training for the Terrible Two, by many standards one of, if not the toughest, single day bicycle rides in California. The distance of 200 miles is challenging, but 18,000 feet of elevation gain is the big test. Ok, I dedicated a big part of my life to getting an event jersey, how shallow can that be, but no matter because the game and enjoyment of training and riding long, the care by the many volunteers, and your generosity, superseded any prize. And here’s a shout-out to my dear wife Noni, who put up with and supported my eternal bicycling, knowing the satisfying challenge it gave me.
Volunteers! The best I can liken the race rest stops are the NASCAR pit crews. You ride in, someone says, “You’re looking good,” relieve yourself, and upon return to the bike, water bottle mixes are done to specification and filled, food requests honored, anything else you need, and off you go. About 3 minutes per stop, no worry. This was especially useful during the first 112 miles to Warm Springs dam rest stop, as there is an enforced cut-off time there, which after 8 bicycling hours I made by 5 minutes.
At least 4 rest stops along the way, I had second thoughts about the coming next set of big climbs and miles. At Warm Springs dam I hear, “You can do it!” And “want another V8, and M&Ms, here, have them all!” And with that my bike gets a little shove off and I am swept away by, “It’s your backyard out there, man!” At Stewart’s Point Rancheria I missed the cutoff time by a few minutes and was prepared to call it a day, have my number pulled, the last rider to the site. But no one said anything, so I thought, well I’ll just go to Fort Ross rest stop and call it a day there, it’s been a good ride, and the coast and weather were lovely for a final push. At Fort Ross, everyone is starting to pack up, the temperature is dropping, I’m offered chicken soup and hot chocolate, and before I can say, “I think that’s about it, gang” a volunteer says, “You can make it to Monte Rio before they close, don’t doddle here, get going!” So I went.
Straight up Fort Ross Road, by the top the last light of the day reflects off the grey sea far below, I turn on my front and back lights and put on my wool base layer, night descends as does the steep and curvy road to Cazadero. Blitzing toward Monte Rio, alight by the chicken soup, too much caffeine and sugar for the previous 15 hours, I leapfrog for the last 35 miles with a support vehicle watching for my continued safety. At the final rest stop, a lone remaining volunteer offers my last sustenance, a couple of cookies, and says, you can do it, won’t be easy, you can make it to the finish on time. Ok, I’ll give it a go. Riding at night, which I’ve never done before, without much traffic but familiar roads, is an ethereal experience. The world gets small, focus comes of necessity. And then the finish line volunteers, all kind and being of service to the bitter end, after what must have been a very long night and day and night. The finish line clock was a beacon of beauty.
I am left with deep appreciation for the support provided by the volunteers, and by YOU! The experience of being so encouraged will linger a lot longer than a weary body. Later I heard that at 71 years, 9 months, I was the oldest finisher ever in the 43-year history of the event. And here’s a picture of me in the prized jersey.
Two days later, I boarded a plane to East Africa to see Global Partners projects in action and to attend a Sustainable Development conference put on by our staff, and where I gave the keynote address. In Uganda, we were fortunate to meet several groups of girls sponsored in our Scholars program, one group having finished their university studies and now moving into their professions and promising new futures as teachers, administrators, business, medicine, contributing to their communities. Each girl told of determination in overcoming daunting obstacles like being orphaned at a young age in poverty, yet finding her voice and confidence with education.
And I met the girls who will complete their secondary school studies this year and benefit by your contribution. They are a lively bunch, and immensely grateful to Global Partners and to you for giving them a chance to continue their studies. Each of the girls was chosen for her academic potential, and would otherwise not have been able to stay in school, having lost one or both parents and any financial help from home. At such a young age, the girls are pursuing their education and life possibilities with enormous resolve. I was inspired, it is a privilege to ride and fundraise on their behalf.