2018 UnitedHealthcare California Challenge Blog Day 3

October 17, 2018

Our Project Hero riders are describing the 2018 UnitedHealthcare California Coastal Challenge as one of the best Challenges ever!   And with good reason: gorgeous weather, incredible scenery and stress-free days of riding with PH brothers and sisters, it’s no wonder we all feel that way.

And today was no exception.

We left San Simeon and rode past a huge American flag hoisted by our friends from the Cambria American Legion, who lined the highway and cheered us as we rode to one of the most charming stops on this year’s ride, a visit to Cambria Middle School.  The entire school came out for us, making us feel great when they sang “This Land is Your Land,” read a Peace Poem and celebrated our First Responders and Veterans with hugs, cheers and photos. 

Our trek took to us through the countryside into Morro Bay.  At Morro Bay High School we were joined by Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons and City Councilmembers John Headding and Robert “Red” Davis and the Mayor rode through Morro Bay with us.  Arriving in San Luis Obispo, we enjoyed lunch at the SLO American Legion, then finished the 54-mile day with a short ride into Pismo Beach and the beloved Pismo Beach Lighthouse Suites, one of the most picturesque and enjoyable overnight venues we have on this year’s Challenge.

Our Project Hero family is honored to be joined by Kendra Marsh at this year’s Challenge.  Kendra is from Sacramento and is currently working in the Menlo Park program.  Remarkably, she only started riding road bikes three months ago and is now on her first Challenge!

Kendra served our nation in the Army from 2003-2011 and was deployed to Iraq.  Inspired by support from Menlo Park heroes Monica Hope, Gil Ramirez and Melissa Puckett, she came to this year’s Challenge and so far thinks “it’s crazy good!” she said. “It’s been great for me right away I was riding angry but then I found when I couldn’t bike I needed it. I have been climbing these mountains in my head for a long time. Cycling help me to get over them and taught me I can accept myself.”

Her experience this week has been life changing, especially the Big Sur ride. “There is so much support, everyone cheering for me and being part of a community is great. I couldn’t have done it without their support. Now I believe in myself.”

Now that she has the Project Hero cycling “bug,” Kendra wants to ride and do more.  “I want to do the next Challenge.  I want to be like Candise Morgan and mentor people and even eventually push.

Kendra’s message to our veterans and first responders is “There is nothing you can’t do and can’t get through.  You don’t have to be stuck.  There is so much support and love, you are not alone.  You can do this.” 

Most important, Kendra has a new outlook, thanks to Project Hero family.

“Yesterday was the first time I was proud to be a veteran,” she said.

Kendra, you are an inspiration to all of us at Project Hero!

Tomorrow the 2018 UnitedHealthcare California Costal Challenge continues with a 70-mile ride into Solvang highlighted by our traditional and always memorable visits to Oceano and Orcutt.

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