120 mile walk with his father

Ten years ago, Paul Harlin cycled 127 miles on a rugged, uneven stretch of Highway 12 from Santa Rosa to Stockton in the middle of the night to see his girlfriend and future wife, Angelica.

He didn’t have a car and he said he “just couldn’t wait to see her”.

“I opened the door and he’s there at 10 am,” said Angelica Harlin, 44. “He looked so tired and I was like, ‘Oh my God, come in. “”

Now their 14-year-old son Adam Lacey is training to pay homage to the romantic gesture alongside his father as part of an eighth grade school assignment.

And his ride was made possible by a bike donated by Trek Bicycle Santa Rosa.

The mission, which is part of an extended project at SunRidge School in Sevastopol, is to explore and study a subject in depth and demonstrate mastery at the end of the year. Adam will cycle the same distance and repeat parts of the route to visit his grandparents in Lodi, while training and tracking his progress year round.

For Adam, the mission is both sentimental and practical; it is a way of spending time with his father and honoring his parents’ love story. It’s also a way to immerse yourself in the world of long-distance road biking, a sport that he hopes will allow him to gain endurance and develop his mental focus as a teenager with bicycle deficit disorder. attention with hyperactivity.

“I’ve always liked the idea of ​​cycling long distances,” said Adam. “I feel like a hyper hyper person and I don’t like being stuck inside. Riding my bike helps me to be outside… I think it would be pretty cool to relive this ride.

For Paul, 38, the project is a way to bond with his son and get back to the sport he once loved. He also appreciates the mental focus that long-distance cycling gives him.

“Road biking becomes almost like meditation,” he said. “You find a rhythm and it’s like a cadence. It can almost be like an out of body experience, especially when you start to cycle this far. “

Paul, who is an emergency medical technician who attends a paramedic school, could not afford to buy his son a new road bike for the mission. So he started calling local cycling organizations to explain the situation and see if there was anything they could do to help.

“I thought to myself that someone has to have a bike lying around,” Paul said. “I’ve had a lot of closed doors, but someone recommended calling Trek because they do a lot of things for the community. We met Phil and it just connected with him.

Phil Heydorn, 56, is the service manager at Trek Bike in Santa Rosa and spoke to Paul by phone. He asked them to email him with the details and size of Adam.

Adam sent the email himself, providing details about the homework assignment, the meaning of it, and its measurements.

“The reason I’m interested in this is because my dad, when I was a baby, would hike long distances,” he wrote. “It has been many years since my dad rode a bike and my teacher gave me permission to work on this project with my ‘now out of shape dad’ (his words are not mine)… Thank you much for your time and consideration. “

Heydorn was touched – and impressed by Adam’s letter.

“I just feel like this is something we have to support here in Sonoma County,” he said. “It was just something for me that ticked all the boxes.”

But it also struck a personal note with Heydorn, who fell in love with the road bike when he was Adam’s age.

“I had no idea that 40 years later I would still be riding,” he said. “That’s what I hope for Adam. The bikes are very stimulating and I think he’s about to learn how free he is when he gets on this bike and starts training for this really long ride.

On December 15, Adam, his father and mother, who live in Santa Rosa, came to the Trek bike store in downtown Santa Rosa, where Heydorn surprised them with an Émonda ALR 5 equipped with a helmet, lights, petals and a seat bag.

“We did it so he could jump on it and roll over,” Heydorn said.

And that’s what Adam did, even though it was raining that day.

“I was blown away,” said Paul. “It’s a wonderful bike. I just didn’t expect the generosity.

“I had faith in them that they were going to do something for me, but I didn’t expect them to do something that big,” said Adam. “It’s a very nice bike.

Adam and his father immediately started training. Adam said he was amazed at how smooth and fast his bike was and how easily it changed gears on the way up.

“In my opinion, it almost changes a life,” said Paul. “These are the kinds of things that are going to shape his life.”

Adam has always loved the bike since he was two years old, when Paul started dating his mother.

Paul did not grow up with a very present father. “He just wasn’t the father that Paul is,” Angelica said. “This is why spending time with Adam is so important to him.”

When Paul was dating Angelica and did not have a car, he would tie Adam to his back and take him around town for shopping. When Adam was 7, they bought him a mini BMX bike, which he was obsessed with. As he got older he started playing baseball with Paul and got really good at it, his parents said.

“He’s got this internal motivation to be able to strive,” Angelica said. “He’s very shy and he’s very nice. He has a good heart and he tries really hard.

But Adam struggled a lot with the school during the pandemic shutdowns and the virtual school. With ADHD, being stuck inside made it difficult to learn, and her grades began to drop, along with her self-esteem.

“It was a really sad time for him and coming out of it,” Angelica said, “but now he’s much better.” Getting out of the house on a new bike and returning to school in person has helped tremendously, she said.

“I don’t know how to put it into words,” Adam said. “In the car, I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with my emotions because I was very, very, very grateful. “

You can contact Editor-in-Chief Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or [email protected] On Twitter @alana_minkler.

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