While the last few years have been a minefield of social challenges in an unrelenting pandemic the Tour de Recovery (TDR) was a harbinger of hope!
The TDR was developed with great excitement to raise awareness and celebrate recovery as an innovative fundraising event. In partnership with the idea curator Cork Snider, Mental Health Systems (MHS) embarked on a multi-day 600 mile bike ride beginning in San Jose and ending at the MHS Family Recovery Center (FRC) in Oceanside.
The ride hosted speakers and moving stories of personal heartbreak and the road to recovery. From family testimony shouldering the pain of watching a loved one suffer to the courage it takes for those in the grips of addiction to finally accept help. Endurance riders CEO Jim Callaghan, Cork Snider, and Rick Burns were not alone as there was a kids Mini Tour de Recovery to help kick it off. A beautiful, heartwarming reflection of enthusiasm and how a difference can be made at any age.
The team had a raucous sendoff at each stop that carried them for miles! They flew through back roads passing gorgeous landscape and while conditions were challenging, there were many heartfelt moments that kept the team pedaling. Cork with contagious positivity, Rick big and stealthy, and Jim in his element. At one point the riders ran out of paved road in the rural hills of Tehachapi. Luckily, the team and their bikes fit in the Sag Wagon and as they drove off, at least one rider was heard sighing loudly to the cool A/C.
A Mojave Desert section started at a breezy 79 degrees and quickly rose to a sweltering 110 degrees! It was touch and go when cell service dropped and GPS rider tracking was lost but eventually, they were found (cue collective sigh of relief!). The team hammered out 5000 feet of climbing in the sweltering heat and the headwinds really put the riders to the test. They faced fatigue from hundreds of miles behind them although you’d never know it by their easy laughter, expressed gratitude, and enduring commitment to the cause.
The final stretch to Oceanside, the place where it all began, the inspiration that sparked the idea for the Tour de Recovery evoked such emotion as the culmination of this 10-day epic journey reached its final destination. As the riders approached the finish line, the throngs of people broke into a deafening chorus of cheers that not only welcomed the riders home but enveloped them in undeniable outpouring of love and appreciation.
CEO Jim Callaghan shared how special FRC is, and his privilege and honor to proudly stand with his fellow riders Cork Snider and Rick Burns recognizing the strength and fortitude it takes to embark on the road to recovery. He acknowledged how they struggled on their cycling journey to get to this final stage over many miles, long hot days, and hills that seemed to go on forever, but that was nothing compared to what those in recovery must face.
As the Tour de Recovery came to an end there were promises to stay in touch with newfound friends. In the bittersweet conclusion the riders expressed profound gratitude for all the support and encouragement along the way and their unshakable resolve for next year’s Tour de Recovery!
By Dr. Wendy Broughton