April 26. Day 1
Warrior 100 K ride
After arriving yesterday and finally getting to Amarillo,
the day consisted of lunch, putting my bike together, taking a short ride
checking it out, visiting with old and new friends and a nice steak dinner at a
well known Amarillo steakhouse that features a 72 ounce steak that is free, if
it is eaten in 1 hour. Our dinner group
consisted of 20 honored Warriors, staff from the George W. Bush Presidential
Center, volunteers and other ride groups, including Ride2Recovery. By 8:30 the night was called as everyone was
anxious to begin today's ride.
Breakfast started at 6:00 and the riders started talking
about the challenges facing us and the joy of riding with President Bush. The usual breakfast items were on hand, but
there was a platter of wrapped burritos, with bottles of hot sauce I have never
seen. John Wordin, President and Founder
of Ride2Recovery, scheduled a 10:30 meet in the lobby for our 40 minute ride to
the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, the venue for the Warrior100K mountain bike
ride. We finally arrived and you could
see Police checking in all cars before we could
proceed. Palo Duro is the second
largest canyon in the U.S. next to the Grand Canyon. We proceed along the rim, before we traversed
our way down to the bottom of the canyon.
We checked over our bikes before John Wordin led us out
for our morning Pre-ride. We rode for
about a mile, before we found a trail and headed into the desert. The first mile was flat with wide trails, but
before long, the climbs were rocky, narrow and scary. The downhills were just as treacherous as they
included sharp turns, cactus and rock.
Half way into the ride, I crashed and my clean white R2R jersey was now
red on my left shoulder and back from the red Texas clay. I was a little shaken up, but got back on the
bike and continued. After a while, I
started to run out of gas and walked the bike up some of the tougher climbs and
couldn't wait to get back to the parking lot to cool down and assess my injury. After cleaning up in the air conditioned
bathroom, I went back to the parking and waited like everyone else for the
Before long, you could see an entourage of Suburbans and
Denalis coming down the canyon and the President and Secret Service
arrived. The cheers began as the
President got out of his car and immediately approached his 20 hand picked
Injured Warriors. He spent time with
each, before he announced, let's ride.
The President took the lead followed by 5 or6 Secret Service riders, the
20 Warriors, a medical team, and the balance of the riders, for a total of 73
riders. I eventually got shuffled to the
rear of the group and before long we found the trail for today's ride which was
different from the morning ride. The
first mile or so were benign, but before long the hill climbs started and the
trails got narrower, with rocks and cactus. I eventually ran out of gas, and
had to walk the bike up the difficult climbs and walked it down when I saw more
rock and tight turns. If you knew you
were going to fall off the bike, you better find the high side, because the low
side could take you into a rocky ravine.
At the 7 mile mark, was a water stop and that's when I threw in the
towel and called it a day. I was driven
back to the parking lot in an off road vehicle and waited for the riders. Before long, President Bush and the riders
entered the parking lot wet, dusty and exhausted and even the President looked
a little pale. The President was handed
some water and then posed for pictures for everyone. He was as gracious to the first rider as he
was to the last. John Wordin then said
Rob, let me take a picture with you and the President. I said, why not and approached the President,
shook his hand and said," Mr. President, what an honor to meet you and
ride with you." He chuckled and said
"thank you." What a thrill!!
We made our way back to our cars and hurried back to the
hotel, before a deluge of rain came down.
When we arrived, the Amarillo Police surrounded our hotel and that's
when we knew the President was staying at our hotel. Dinner was at the Amarillo National Bank, on
the 16th floor in a beautiful space with a surround of windows overlooking
Amarillo. The President finally arrived
and made conversation with us, before I pulled out my copy of, "Decision
Points" the Presidents book of difficult decisions he made in his life,
mostly in the White House. He graciously
signed the title page with a personal autograph. Dinner was called, with speeches afterwords,
before the President said it was time to go to bed.
Tomorrow is 32 miles of ride. I'll attempt to give it my all!!