I was so glad when my good buddy Mike announced the Wednesday night ride I called the Prison Run.
Mike used to set up regular rides a few years ago and called his group the ECC mountain bike club. All Mike’s rides were well organized, with email announcements provided well in advance. He also provided maps of the upcoming ride and directions to the trailhead.
Just prior to riding Mike always led us in a little prayer thanking our creator for each other and asking for us all to return safely. In addition he insisted we take a group photo.
While riding, Mike’s pack always included a thorough first aid kit and a satellite phone in case something bad happened to one of us. He even took first aid classes solely for the purpose of helping someone on a ride. Feeling the love of this man caused many of us to call him “Daddio.” Mike was my Daddio even though I was several years older (but much less responsible) than he.
But as time went by many of the riders found other interests or other groups to ride with. In conjunction with losing riders our ECC leader began to have commitments at home which took priority over running a mountain bike club. We all drifted apart and the ECC was put on hold.
So, I was elated when Daddio once again started announcing rides and I found I could attend this one … the Prison Run.
We met at a park on Lake Crest Drive … right across from Otay Lake at 5:30 pm.
We had 6 riders … Patrick, Art, Glen, Richard, Daddio, and yours truly. One of the riders forgot his helmet and another forgot the battery for his headlight. When Daddio heard this he immediately responded with, “I live just a few minutes away, I will drive home and get the gear.”
So, after a short while Mike returned with a helmet and a another light.
After our prayer, we took our group photo and then we hit the trail, Daddio in the lead.
We skirted the lake, climbed through a fence (which I was told was absolutely legal) and rode down a dirt road looking for a trail branching to the left. After a a quarter mile of so Daddio said, “We must have passed the trail. We have gone too far!”
So we turned around and came back to an area which had been fenced off. While I was just getting to the fenced off portion of the trail I saw Mike ride right over to the fence and jump off his bike.
Instantly, there were two cactus balls stuck to different portions of his left leg. I grabbed couple of sticks and removed them and we pulled out the remaining spines with some tweezers Mike had in his pack.
After removing the cactus we looked around. Mike hiked down the hill and found remnants the trail. Not only was this trail fenced but tons of brush had been piled on top of the path, all the way down the hill.
So, we had to take a different road, which took us down to and across the Otay River.
From the south side of the river we took a left turn and climbed a steep fire road which ran between the County Prison and State Prison. Most of the guys struggled with the hill as they have not been doing much riding lately.
While I waited up the hill I took the opportunity to take some “artistic” photos.
Once the fellows passed me I took a photo as they ground up the remaining part of the climb.
Once we reached the top of the hill we took another group photo as Daddio had said he wanted a shot right in front of the prison.
Next we zoomed down a blacktop road and took the best piece of trail on the ride … which led us back toward the Otay River bed. We all had to switch on our lights as the darkness fell quickly.
After correcting a few navigational problems we managed to return back to the park and our vehicles.
For the majority of the Prison Run I was Mike’s shadow … riding in a place where I could ask him a lot of questions about his life and some of the friends we used to ride with. Traveling along I realized how much I had missed Daddio’s sense of humor and his sincere caring for other human beings.
I have been lucky enough to mountain bike in many different parts of our world. I have followed guys with tremendous skills and top notch endurance. But I have only ever biked with one “Daddio.”
To see all the photos I took on this ride please visit my photo gallery.