California, here we come

In 2000, I was given Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 mistakenly for my birthday. My best friend and neighbor, Tim, said he planned to get me Cool Boarders 3, but he and his mom could only find THPS2. 

I couldn’t be bothered that the gift was a second-choice, as we ripped off the cellophane packaging and threw the bright-yellow disc into my Playstation and logged hours into what’s now considered one of the most iconic video games ever. This happy accident has affected my life more than my nine-year-old brain could ever have imagined.

What followed were my teenage years, which I spent skateboarding, identifying as a “skater” and revering skating as the sun around which my life revolved. And my Mecca was California. Skateboarding was invented there. Jamie Thomas’ iconic Leap of Faith happened at a San Diego high school. California was where all the major companies were based, where all the best skateparks and spots were. School II in THPS2 was set in California. Blink-182 recorded “The Mark Tom and Travis Show” there. Things were happening in California, and I couldn’t get there, which only worsened my desire to get there.

“One of the great activities (for kids) is skateboarding,” Jerry Seinfeld said.

“To learn to do a skateboard trick, how many times do you gotta get something wrong until you get it right? And you’re falling and hurting yourself. You learn that trick, now you got a life lesson. Whenever I see those skateboard kids, I think, ‘Those kids will be alright’.”

16 years later, I still haven’t been to California, I don’t skate anymore, and Tim and I don’t talk nearly as much as I’d like. All of which bum me out, but such is growing up, I guess. I’d like to change all of these. At least I know I’ll get to do change one of them.

My employment at Bike the US for MS started in October, following two summers of riding and then route leading. My hiring is a testament to the notion that if you hang around long enough, you’ll eventually find yourself in the right place at the right time. And if you’re really lucky, you might find a way to weasel a paycheck out of it.

I’m really fortunate to have the job I do. It afforded me a chance to get out of my parents’ hair in Richmond and head back to Blacksburg, which has been a joy. I had struggled mightily to find work, as is documented on this site, and when I got a call with a job offer on the other line instead of another rejection, I was euphoric. I still am. And one of the fruits and vegetables that comes with being Bike the US for MS’ Program Manager is being a route leader when called upon. Last winter, I was called upon.

This summer, I’ll be leading a group of cyclists from Yorktown, Virginia to San Francisco, California. At long last, I get to go to California. I suppose it’s only appropriate that I go by bike.

The TransAm is a grand, obfuscating, and hot ride, a tour about which I know little. I’m really excited to write about it and share my experience here, and thank you for reading.

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