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Ex-Cox San Diego G.M., Urged on by Bill Walton, Rides His Bike 620 Miles

10/31/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Bill Geppert, the 16-year general manager
of Cox Communications’ San Diego market, retired
last year. At a retirement party, basketball legend
Bill Walton, a friend, presented Geppert with a racing
bicycle that the Cox leadership team bought as a
gift.

Walton encouraged Geppert to join him in the annual
Million Dollar Challenge ride to support the Challenged
Athletes Foundation.

Why it’s a challenge: The course is 620 miles, from San
Francisco to San Diego on the stunning California coastline,
and takes seven days to complete.

He and 99 other riders pledged to raise $10,000 each
to support physically challenged athletes. (Three riders
used arm-pedaled bikes, called handcycles.)

Despite never having done a ride longer than 90 miles,
Geppert, 56, took the challenge, which was a five-month
commitment, including training.

On Oct. 21, he arrived at Kellogg Park in San Diego,
greeted by his wife, Amy, and his daughter and son holding
up a big sign saying, “You Did It!”

He chronicled the journey in email messages to
friends (including Ovation TV’s Ellen Schned) that he
signed with sobriquets including “Southern-Bound Bill,”
“Slow-and-Persistent Cycling Bill” and, finally, “600-Mile
Bill.”

He reported “a few crashes (none serious), lots of flat
tires and stories to tell.”

He told The Wire he drew inspiration from David Lee,
a paraplegic arm cyclist, with whom he rode “on one of
the toughest days,” 115 miles in light rain, “climbing hills
and keeping an impressive pace. I thought — I can do
this too!”

At the end, Geppert felt “relief and disbelief that it was
done … then I sat on a pillow all weekend!”

Led by Walton, who raised more than $93,000, the 100
riders collectively raised $1.4 million.

Parting words for the friends who encouraged him
along the way: “Go buy a road bike and join us next year
... it’s a trek of a lifetime!”

Famed Sawgrass Green
No Sweat for ACA Ace
Matt ‘8 Feet Away’ Polka

The Island Green at TPC Sawgrass outside Jacksonville,
Fla., has brought pro golfers to their knees, but not American
Cable Association president Matt Polka, who played
the famed course on Oct. 25.

The Wire can report that Polka hit his tee shot within
eight feet of the hole, on a green that has reduced pro
golfers to jellyfish and jellyfish to whatever they fear
turning into. OK, he was playing from the shorter tees,
making it about a 95-yard pitch shot, but still.

A Wire tipster, tongue slightly in cheek, said Polka
knocked down a wedge that “took off like a Pershing II
missile into a strong wind and covered the flag before
slamming into the green with a pounding thud so loud it
must have halted play on the other holes.”

Fine. Did he make the putt?

Yes. For a birdie 2, our birdie’s-eye viewer said.
Polka was in Florida for an ACA board meeting at the
Sawgrass Marriott, which hosts the famous Players Stadium
course. Polka reportedly introduced himself at the
next day’s board meeting as “Matt ‘8 feet from the cup
on No. 17’ Polka.”

Now, if only ACA can get as close to its target on
retransmission-consent reform, a taller order. Given
the FCC’s talk of limited authority over retransmission
consent, Polka and other cable persuaders are clearly
hitting from the championship tees into a headwind.

Hindery Backs Plans
For Formula 1 Race
On Streets of Jersey

Leo J. Hindery Jr., the former Tele-Communications Inc.
and AT&T Broadband chief who later helped found YES
Network and is now managing partner at InterMedia Partners
L.P., is helping to bring a Formula 1 auto race to, of
all places, West New York and Weehawken, N.J.

The 3.2-mile race is planned for existing roads on the
Western shore of the Hudson River — including ones
that go up and down the Palisades — with the New York
skyline in the background. “What I see of it, it’s going
to be an absolutely spectacular race,” F1 expert and
Speed commentator Steve Matchett said of the race
course, which drew comparisons last week to the famed
F1 street race in Monte Carlo.

Hindery is executive chairman of the project, which is
being called Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial. The
plan is to put on the privately funded, three-day elite
racing event in June 2013.

At an Oct. 25 press conference, shown live on Speed
and its website, Hindery appeared
with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
and other local officials to announce
the event, using superlatives
he’s used often over the years
in speaking of people and companies
in cable.

The Wire nostalgically jotted
down a few familiar phrases.
“We believe it is a privilege to be
here,” Hindery said in promising that backers will pick
up all the expenses involved in putting on the race, which
he said will be operated “safely” and “sensitively.”

Of the location itself — which fellow race backer H.A.
“Humpy” Wheeler
said Hindery discovered using Google
Earth — Hindery said it was created by God and local municipal
officials and developers, “and it’s pretty special.”

Hindery is also a well-known motorsports enthusiast.
In 2005, at age 57, he drove in the team that won the
GT-2 class of the 24-hour endurance race in Le Mans,
France, according to Bloomberg News.

Humpy Wheeler, his father in law, is the former president
of the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Hindery’s
wife, Patti Wheeler, is executive vice president of programming
and production at Charlotte-based Speed Channel.

Fox Networks Group outlet Speed is the longtime U.S.
TV home of Formula 1 racing, and also produces the
races that air on the Fox broadcast network. Preliminary
discussions are under way about broadcasting the Port
Imperial race, Speed said.

 

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