WeissCrax: Tour de Friends

Mary McDonnel (left) enjoys the beauty of life with best friend, Lindsay McTavish.

Mary McDonnel (left) enjoys the beauty of life with best friend, Lindsay McTavish. (McTavish Courtesy Photo)


Fate and Bonnie Raitt brought them together 30 years ago at the County Bowl.

“The Luck of the Irish” then parked a McDonnel and a McTavish in side-by-side seats!

They’ve been cruisin’ as besties nearly ever since — ‘being there’ for each other during the good times … and cushioning the speed bumps.

Weddings (2) … children (5)… divorce (2) … dating & relationships (nobody’s talkin’ here)…

Basically everything.

So when McDonnel (AKA Mary) was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer a year ago, McTavish (a la Lindsay) was, obviously, there with TLC.

“Not because she is ill, but because she is so alive.”

Numerous trips north to accompany Mary, 56 — a Cottage nurse before moving to Pismo a few years ago — to medical appointments, shopping, hiking, (they climbed Mt. Whitney three years ago), pampering, etc.

Bikes line up for Mary's Ride. (McTavish Courtesy Photo)

Bikes line up for Mary’s Ride. (McTavish Courtesy Photo)

Throughout it all, Mary is busy living life to the fullest!

Recently returned from Ireland (Psst: She even lives on Irish Way! Hello?) … rode her 10-speed around Manhattan (NY,NY) in June … just went deep sea fishing with gurlfriends … paddles on outrigger team … volunteers for the local Foodbank and Salvation Army …

You get the picture.

Four months back, Lindsay asks Mary if there is something fun and extra special she’d like to do … and there are two things.

The second (Disneyland #1) is a long distance bike ride.

Lindsay, an experienced party planner (details sketchy here), springs into action!

Originally dreamed as a one-way, one-day trip from Pismo to Santa Barbara is too long. So, a neighbor suggests a shorter, back road route from Pismo to Santa Ynez.

Mary’s Ride is born.

Date set: Friday, July 10.

Website launched.

“I gotta do this ride!” Mary gears up.

And everyone jumps on board — including daughters, Molly & Tessa and Lindsay’s kids, Caleigh, Jake & Lala … to ride … drive SAG wagons … cook & host lunch & dinner & happy hour, plus lead rest stop themed-shenanigans (from tutus to disco to releasing birds to nurses’ love)… family fotos for mileage markers (including Mary’s 97-year-young Mom & sisters: “Love you forever & always!”) … bikers a la SB Peet’s coffee buds, Pismo pals, Coastal Surgery Center colleagues, shared amigos, medical staffers… plus mucho food, fun & friendship!!

Mary's Ride turns out to be a Tour de Force

Mary’s Ride turns out to be a Tour de Force. (McTavish Courtesy Photo)

Riders: Dennis Krueger … Laurie Thurber …Dean Janoff … Mark Shaw …Caleigh Hernandez … Kira Plymire … Mary Vanderveen … Annette Lockhart …Marylud Baldwin … Kelly Bey … Gina & Steve Goss … David Stout … Dave DeBorge … Jim Robinson … Jessica Turner … Karen Chestnut …Lori & Daniel Corry …Michael Grabowski … Mary & Lindsay.

Others provide financial, moral and in-kind gifts to make it a special day.

And that it is, with perfect weather – sunny & beautiful!

Daughters Molly (left) and Tessa flank Mom in first mileage marker at the start of Mary's Ride.

Daughters Molly (left) and Tessa flank Mom in first mileage marker at the start of Mary’s Ride. (McTavish Courtesy Photo)

From 7:30AM Start: Mary’s Pismo home with coffee, bagels and a spiritual blessing from Pastor Ron (no stranger to cancer, himself).

Then off they go to their mantra, Christopher Cross’ Ride like the Wind.

To 3PM Finish: Mary finally pulls out the loaner electric bike from a doctor friend and zooms up hills around Mile 50 and gleefully singing, “I feel your pain” to tired & uphill winded bike warriors.

All in all, one spectacular and inspirational success!

And not bad — over 1,350 collective miles and only one flat.

“It was an honor and great pleasure to be a small part of a huge day,” texted Rod Lathim (his ice cream = sandwiches = a BIG hit!) afterwards.

“I felt so special,” shares Mary, “It was overwhelming … the attention …. the love… the paparazzi!”

Greeting her with a kiss at each rest stop was boyfriend, Thomas who stayed close in the SAG wagon. His sis, Linda, was right there helping, too.

“Mary is the one person in the world I could ask to take an adventure and she would say, “Yes – when are we going?” Lindsay says. “And I’ve never met someone who can always find the good in someone – that’s her!”

Safe to say, Mary’s Ride brings out the best in everyone.

Mary: “A truly magical day and so wonderful to share it with my daughters.”

Before calling it a night after one incredible dinner (for 55), one last surprise — ‘specially branded Mary’s Ride water bottles for all the riders.

Lindsay: “They’ll need ‘em because we doing it, again, in the Spring.”

 Afterall, that’s just what friends do …      

(McTavish Courtesy Photo)

(McTavish Courtesy Photo)