Friends honor late classmate with bike ride

Cycling was one of the hobbies of Patrick McGill, who was an academic star at Beyer High School in Modesto.

The Hughson resident and promising student died of cancer Sept. 26 at the age of 20. His friends are putting together what they hope will become an annual bike ride to raise money for the Patrick McGill Scholarship Award at Beyer.

"You only had to meet him once to like him and feel like you were his friend," said Chad Brown, Sylvan Union School District board president and one of the organizers of the bike ride, set for Nov. 24.

McGill was a classmate and study partner of Brown's daughter, Brittany. In September, Chad Brown did the 500-mile Cycle Oregon bike ride in McGill's honor.

The memorial ride will begin at the Stanislaus River Park at Knights Ferry and meander through the scenic countryside of northeastern Stanislaus County. Different rides are planned for beginner and advanced levels.

A 20-mile route will take cyclists from Knights Ferry past horse ranches to a river park near Oakdale, where riders will break for refreshments and then return to Knights Ferry.

The more challenging 35-mile ride will follow the beginners' route to the rest stop near Oakdale, and then take a loop around Woodward Reservoir. The cyclists will proceed to the historic mining town of Eugene before returning to Knights Ferry.

All of the cyclists will finish their rides by crossing the Knights Ferry covered bridge.

McGill earned a weighted 4.3 grade-point average at Beyer and received about $1 million in scholarship offers from colleges and universities. He chose Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., but was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer two months before his June 2005 graduation from Beyer.

He underwent treatment at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, which appeared to eliminate the cancer and allowed him to attend the fall semester at Dartmouth in 2006. During Christmas break, an examination revealed the cancer had returned.

McGill worked at the World of Wheels bike shop in Modesto during his junior and senior years of high school. In summer 2006, he and his family went on a "Wish Upon A Star" trip to Maui. The highlight was a ride down the Haleakala volcano with his mother and other family members.

"It was definitely an experi- ence -- I know Patrick enjoyed it a lot," said Tristan Yates, a cousin who went on the Maui trip.

Yates said the fund-raising event combines two of McGill's interests. "He was an all-around amazing person," she said.

Advance registration for the Patrick McGill Memorial Bike Ride on Nov. 24 is $20 for the 20-mile ride, $25 for the 35-mile, or $25 and $30, respectively, the day of the event. Optional barbecue lunch: $5 in advance, $7 the day of the event. Registration forms are at World of Wheels, Fun Sport Bikes or Valley Sporting Goods, or download a form at http://FriendsofPatrickMcGill. googlepages.com.

Check-in is at 8 a.m. at the group picnic area of the Stanislaus River Park at Knights Ferry. For more information, call Chad Brown at 604-4852 or Maura McGill at 595-3600.