Okay, so this is a local newspaper and my column features stories about local people, so if a story takes place 3,000 miles away, and I happen to be one of the “athletes” involved, will it qualify as a local story? It will? Great.
I was able to check off a bucket list item last week, and I am sharing the experience partly to tell the story and partly to entice others to give it a try. I had done it before, solo, but including my daughter in the experience made it so much more fun.
Rhiana (a rising high school sophomore and a three-sport athlete) and I straddled our rented bicycles at Fisherman’s Wharf, and looked at the Golden Gate Bridge, her majestic orange towers peeking out of the fog, 5 miles away. I knew that the fog might dissipate in the time it took to navigate the pedestrians, the other cyclists, the sometimes stiff headwinds, and numerous photo stops, and sure enough, as we got closer, the fog had thinned. We wove our way through joggers, walkers, camera-toting tourists, dog walkers, baby strollers, several hundred other cyclists, and some of the priciest real estate in the world. The condos offered spectacular views of the grand bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, and “The City by the Bay.”
It will surprise no one that undertaking a first-time adventure with a 15-year-old can bring a few eye rolls and complaints, and we hit some turbulence in that regard. The bike was out of adjustment (I fixed it), there were a couple of really steep hills on the way to the bridge, and I offered (really hoping she would decline) to turn around. To her credit, Rhiana found and flipped a switch, and from that moment on, whenever I turned around to check on her I saw a look of determination and even excitement. We upped our game, passed other cyclists and pedestrians, dodged others making the return trip, and stopped twice to take in the magnificent 360-degree view from the bridge. The now-lifted fog revealed the Pacific Ocean, the Marin Headlands, the Bay, the city of San Francisco; it was breathtaking.
After clearing the 2-mile bridge, we stopped at a famous photo spot to gaze back at the city and to prepare for the ride to Sausalito, where we would take a ferry back to San Francisco. We cruised down the steep grade to the picturesque town of Sausalito—with its marinas, shops and beautiful homes stacked onto the hillside—and we took our place in the ferry line. We heard conversations in a half-dozen languages, we high-fived one another for following through on our plan, and Rhiana seemed to absorb the fact that this was a bucket list experience for people from all over the globe. The bike ride was less than 10 miles—no Herculean effort by any measure—but it was a challenge. We boarded the ferry (with about 100 other people and rental bikes), cruised across the San Francisco Bay past Alcatraz, took one last look at the iconic bridge we had just ridden across, climbed back on the bikes, and rode one last mile back to the bike shop.
It was a delightful experience. Thanks for letting me share it.
Big news up at Ithaca College:
When baseball coach George Valesente retired after 41 seasons, someone told me that it would be strange to see a different name in the dugout. I winked and smiled.
After three seasons as the first-ever baseball coach at Wells College, David Valesente will replace his father and take over as the Bombers’ new coach. Dave is a young coach, no doubt, but the baseball IQ he has acquired over his lifetime is equivalent to that of other coaches many years his senior. I recall seeing him at games and camps when he was just a little guy, and he went on to become a very skilled player. He graduated from St. Joseph’s in 2010 as a four-year starter, a three-year team MVP, and a career .323 hitter. He played some pro ball as well, and given I have known David since he was a kid, I foresee a smooth transition for all. As I have said many times over the course of my 26 years at the Ithaca Times, congratulations to Coach Valesente.