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Woman's 100-Mile Tour To Benefit Wildomar Parks

Gidget Giles' “Century Ride for Park Pride” is slated for April 7, and all sponsor donations will benefit Wildomar parks.

In April, Wildomar resident Gidget Giles plans to ride her road bike 100 miles to raise money for her city's three parks --

Her “Century Ride for Park Pride” is slated for April 7, and all sponsor donations will benefit Wildomar parks, she said.

But Giles’ passion to keep the parks open runs deeper than just ensuring plots of green grass in Wildomar: She is pedaling for her health, her children and her community.

“Every little thing counts when it comes to investment in kids,” she said.

A Young Family, A New Home

When Giles moved to Wildomar in 1999 with her husband and two young children, the quiet town seemed like a nice place to raise a family, she said.

“There was a little park next to the house. It was great for the kids,” she explained.

But shortly after moving in, the park – – was closed due to lack of funding. and parks also fell victim.

Giles was upset by the closures and decided to get involved. She didn’t know anyone in town, but she did meet up with , who was advocating on behalf of the parks. Through concerted community efforts, the parks reopened with financial help from a special voter-approved tax to pay for them. But another parks’ shutdown came after a judge ruled the special assessment wasn't legal. Park proponents regrouped and worked to put a retooled proposition to the voters.

“I saw the disappointment in my children as the parks closed,” she said, explaining the difficulty in finding local practice fields for her Little Leaguer. “I think it’s very important that our kids have this space available to them.”

The Road To Healthier Living

Last October, Giles said she started thinking about the 100-mile ride as a way to raise money for the parks. Health had been on her mind. A few years earlier she was realizing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Weight gain and associated health problems began taking a toll on the successful Realtor who was spending more time behind a desk than ever before.

As her less-active ways continued, Giles eventually had an epiphany: “As a mom, what kind of example am I setting for my kids?”

It spurred change. Giles started exercising and really watching what the family put on the table. She was hiking, and was running up to seven miles a day. Her kids were becoming more active too.

But she suffered a setback last year when she blew out her ACL during a martial arts class. A trip to the surgeon fixed the damage, but her recovery was long. Then in November she underwent gallbladder surgery and another layup.

Giles is on the mend though, and doctors have given her the green light for cycling.

“It’s the only activity I’m fully cleared for,” she said, longing for the day she'll be able to run and hike again. She expects doctors will clear her for those activities mid-year.

Just Do It

Giles had started cycling before she blew her knee out, but explained with a humble laugh, “I’m such a novice.”

Her journey to becoming a road warrior began when she saddled up on a hybrid mountain bike outfitted with fat, knobby tires. Not exactly a streamlined street machine.

“I told my husband I was having a hard time on the hills, and he looked at my bike and said, ‘Honey, no wonder ... .'”

They switched out her tires, but she eventually broke down and bought a real road bike. Now she’s pedaling up to 45 miles a day. Her training regimen includes three consecutive days of riding, followed by one day off. Speed, strength and endurance training are all part of the program.

“People tell me that if I can get to 70 miles, then I can do the Century Ride,” she said.

Where Passion Lives

Details of the long ride are still in the works. Giles is working with the cycling community to help her plan the riding route through Southwest Riverside -- Wildomar will be on the map. The April 7 ride day coincides with Wildomar’s annual There could be homage paid to Marna O’Brien Park on the way through town, too, Giles said.

For Giles, who “likes to fly under the radar,” the attention garnered as a result of her upcoming ride is a bit overwhelming. She admits that while the parks are the focus of the effort, there’s more to it.

“We need to invest in places where our kids can be active. If we don’t do this, America’s not going to be in any better shape in 20, 30 years from now,” she said.

If improving the health of a community means working to keep three small city parks open, so be it.

“Every little piece of the puzzle counts,” Giles said.

To donate to Giles’ Century Ride For Park Pride, contact Friends For Wildomar Parks or visit the ride’s Facebook page.

Martha L. Bridges January 26, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Suggest you go buy a map of Wildomar. You obviously need a graphic representation of the city to see the big picture. Out of 24 Sq. Miles, Wildomar has just three excuses for parks; an overgrow tot-lot in Windsong without restrooms or off street parking, a walkway to school that is Heritage, and Marna O'Brien which is tied to organized sports leagues who’s activities dominate most of the areas. All three of them are tucked into the far southwestern corner of the city. As to celebrating Wildomar's birthday, just what is there to celebrate? Why has the city spent the taxpayers’ money on celebrations where only a few hundred people show up out of nearly 32,000 residents? They are little more than opportunities for Wildomar’s politicians to promote themselves while wasting our money. We need to concentrate on basic necessities a city should provide. Our roads are falling apart, our police services have been cut to the bone, and we continue to pay huge amounts of money for attorney’s fees and failed elections. We have traded in being part of unincorporated Riverside County for the false promises of local control. What we got is an overgrown city structure that focuses on clichés, pie-in-the-sky development schemes, at best downright silly behavior…and at worst cronyism, corruption and questionably legal activities. Again, parks are a good thing, but hardly necessary for community spirit or opportunities to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
Martha L. Bridges January 26, 2012 at 03:32 PM
@ michael First, I have tried to help the parks for years, attending parks subcommittee meetings and donated money to keep them open. So you are very wrong to say that I don't care about the parks. Second, as any educated person should know, understanding the past or history about something serves to inform us for the present situations and make good decisions for the future. Parks need good planning, broader utilization, and sensible, reliable funding. Things that Wildomar never provided for because of the council’s inability or unwillingness to do honest long term planning. Yes, the bond issue was thrown out - after people like me stood up to the council and pointed out that it would be a disaster to expand Wildomar's indebtedness when the city couldn't meet its current financial obligations or take care of basic necessities. Like others I understood the disadvantages of turning the entire city of Wildomar into one huge Mell0-Roos district, including the negative impact that would have on property values and the owners' ability to sell their homes. The city controlled press releases don’t give you the whole truth. Do a little research before being such a critic.
Ray A January 26, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Thank you Gidget for your support and promotion of personal fitness and for supporting what is left of our parks. Parks, large or small, are an asset to the community. I appreciate everything you and Bridgett and the citizens of Wildomar do to support our PARK. It's such a shame that we have to have BINGO games and bake sales and difficult individual efforts to support our parks. It seems worse for a city's reputation to lack parks than it is to pay a paltry 28 dollars a year Mello-Roos tax. If we spent the money on parks that we have on litigation we would still have a park in Windsong Valley. Thanks again and have a safe and successful ride.
michael January 26, 2012 at 04:10 PM
@ Ray A Nicely said :)
Lubster January 26, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Maintaining Marna O'Brien Park is good for all of the people that use the park, and for those of us that simply drive by it. It wasn't too long ago that the park was in despair, and now it brings me joy to see families using it. I live in Lake Elsinore so it doesn't help me one way or another, I think that if Gidget Giles is willing to take her time to help support the parks, then you go girl!! There are many people that volunteer their time to keep this park a safe and clean place for children to play, and yes, to do sports. Thank you volunteers!!! Your efforts do make a difference!!

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