• On a Sunday cruise, bicyclists pay tribute to AVHS counselor Pulice

APPLE VALLEY — On any given Sunday, Carol Pulice, described as a skillful cyclist, would put the brakes on a competitive streak and, like the others in the Victor Valley Velo bicyclist group on these days, she’d set in at an easy pace, making conversation with whomever.

Sunday social rides are typical for the club, a fun recovery day of sorts for the cycling enthusiasts. Just last week, Kevin Bilbee had coasted next to Pulice, 55, an admired Apple Valley High School counselor, whom he had known for six or seven years.

“She was the sweetest person I ever met,” Bilbee said Sunday, recalling how she’d readily lend an ear to questions about his son’s college plans. “Every ride, I was, like, ‘Give me advice, what do I need to know?’ “ Bilbee was one of roughly 70 cyclists who turned out for another social ride Sunday, meeting up in a Starbucks parking lot here on Dale Evans Parkway. Except this ride would be different — Pulice was gone.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pulice jumped to her death at the Interstate 10 and 15 interchange in Ontario, authorities said. It’s a tragedy that has struck a chord with a shocked community at large, colleagues at the school district where she worked for 23 years and her friends in the cycling community.

Pulice was “always a happy person, always encouraging,” according to friend Tim Goforth, who rode with her for over a decade. “She fit that counselor role.”

After picking up a pink bracelet off a table — it was Pulice’s favorite color and she was also a breast cancer survivor — the cyclists Sunday, in a massive show of support, embarked on a 10-mile loop through Apple Valley. The early morning ride, which began with a prayer, saw riders observe silence for a portion of it.

Pulice’s husband Sam Pulice and their daughter and son were here for the memorial ride as well, according to Rayelin Moya.

Moya, whose husband and son would ride with the Pulices, said that cyclists Sunday would cruise in two lines, leaving a space open in the middle for their departed friend. Carol Pulice’s daughter trailed the pack in a vehicle that carried her mother’s bicycle on the back.

“One of the warmest souls you’ll ever meet,” Dwayne Oros said of Carol Pulice. “She’d give you the shirt off her back.”

Oros, a family friend of 20 years who coached the family’s children in hockey, added that she was, simply put, “a light” for others.

Bilbee, amazed at her riding prowess and acknowledging how she inspired him to want to keep up, said he was on business in Minnesota when he found out she had passed away.

“I just sat on my bed for 10 minutes,” he recalled, “didn’t know how to react.”

Source: Shea Johnson, Daily Press