A retired Glendora Police lieutenant is about to embark on an incredible journey, cycling his way from San Francisco to Los Angeles to bring attention to a crippling condition.
This will be Jamie Caldwell’s fourth year competing in the California Coast Arthritis Bike Classic hosted by the Arthritis Foundation. It is an organized bicycle ride, starting at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and ending at Santa Monica. The trip, sponsored by AMGEN, covers 525 miles over eight days. The race begins on September 24 and ends October 1.
Caldwell has to raise a minimum of $3,000 for the cause and he is more than halfway to his goal. AMGEN covers all the food and necessary expenses, so 100 percent of the money raised by the 250 bikers goes to the Arthritis Foundation to fund research.
“For me, its kind of a personal journey,” Caldwell shared.
His father suffered from arthritis and his wife’s friend, Renee Martinez, was diagnosed at the age of 16 with rheumatoid arthritis. He has seen Martinez go through several operations and sees the pain that she endures.
Caldwell's wife will be volunteering for the Arthritis Bike Classic for the second year in a row.
Caldwell explained a common misconception that people make about arthritis, one that he himself made his first year competing.
“I was under the impression that arthritis was something that only hit people that were older,” Caldwell said. “I didn’t realize at the time that this was something that hits younger kids as well.”
Arthritis affects over 50 million adults, and 300,000 children nationwide.
Four years later, Caldwell is still passionately raising money and awareness to fund research. Arthritis is a very painful disease and seeing children out at the rest stops making snacks for the riders encourages Caldwell to keep going. Riding hundreds of miles may make him sore for a day or two, but Caldwell reminds himself that people diagnosed with arthritis will feel similar pain for the rest of their lives.
To prepare, Caldwell has been riding his bike between 20 and 30 miles three days a week, frequenting places like Glendora Mountain Road. He also hikes three to four days a week. As the event approaches, Caldwell will increase the distance on his daily rides to 60 and 70 miles per day, and watch his nutrition.
“It is not a race, it is a ride,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell served in the Glendora Police Department for 30 years before retiring as a lieutenant in 2013. He stayed on to serve the city as an emergency services manager for about a year, helping coordinate the response to the Colby Fire.
Caldwell is a co-founder of the Alosta Brewing Company in Covina. He got together with two of his friends after retirement and opened the brewery. Business has been well recently, Caldwell said, thanks to the heat.
“With this hot weather, people are thirsty,” Caldwell chucked.
Caldwell has lived in Glendora for 32 years and plans on continuing to participate in the ride if his health permits it.
The CCC has been an annual event since 2001 and is one of the Arthritis Foundation’s top fundraising events.
The Arthritis Foundation also holds other fundraising events year round, like the Walk to Cure Arthritis in the spring, The Champions for a Cure Gala in the fall and the Jingle Bell Run/Walk in December.
Shannon Marang Cox, the development director, described the event as a “transformative and positive experience … a truly special event that means so much to the participants, crew, staff, volunteers, and our constituents.”
Caldwell has been a cyclist for years and thoroughly enjoys the camaraderie between the riders as they push towards the goal. Not only is it all for a great cause, but it is also an incredible way to see the California coast.
Riders make their way through Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Cambria, Pismo Beach, Buellton and Ventura. The CCC Bike Tour is a big event, and requires year-round planning, managing the routes, rest stops and check points, securing hotels, camp sites, a catering team, a massage crew and nightly entertainment.
Speakers also make an appearance before the race starts. They share their own stories and experience with arthritis, bringing it home to all the riders present, renewing their determination.
The Arthritis Foundation is a four-star charity, placing it in the top quarter of all charities in America. For more information, or to make a general donation, check out their website.
To donate, go to Caldwell’s personal page.