Pedal Power

A group of nearly 80 fifth graders participated in the annual Ride Across California this past April. Dennis Bueker and Mike Fickle, two fifth grade teachers with Poway Unified School District, began the challenge 26 years ago to inspire and empower their students with the experience of achieving a difficult goal. The Ride Across California starts at the Colorado River in Yuma, AZ and finishes at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas – a 260-mile journey over just seven days. The event is now organized with the help of the Rancho Family YMCA.

92131 resident Emma Mills was one of only a few San Diego Unified School District students to complete this year’s ride. She’s a Dingeman Elementary School student in Mrs. Schwartz’s fifth grade class. The group travelled through the beautiful California landscape, passing through farmland, sand dunes, canyons, and some steep hills.

“The ride is never about who comes in first,” explained Pippa Mills, Emma’s mother. “In fact, the children know that those who come in towards the end of each day need more encouragement than ever.” She praised the students for their manners throughout the ride, thanking all the chase drivers and volunteers.

“Many life lessons were learned during that memorable week, and I am very grateful to everyone who made this ride possible,” said Pippa. “Mr. Bueker, the official caboose; Mr. Fickle, chase driver extraordinaire; Olav Schroeder and Bob Jacques, the wonderful lead riders; Christiane Staninger, who kept us organized and well-trained; Alison Willer, for making sure all the chase drivers were in the right place; and Jesse Pazdernik, YMCA coordinator. Thank you for giving each of these children – and us parents – the opportunity to dream big and achieve our goals.”