Impresiones de Laura’s Ride

By Alejandra Carcia Aragon (Translated from Spanish; Rick selected the photos.)

Having had the good fortune of sharing the 4 trips across the US with Rick, I am full of gratitude to Sandi. Without her much would not have been possible due to her kindness and humanity. I am also grateful to Maria, Kristina, Kevin, Ruth, the Klayman Family, Nick and Sara who accompanied us on the first trip, the people at the Lazarex Cancer Foundation and all of the many other people who directly and indirectly supported or participated in this adventure while Rick and I toured the country. Everyone made me feel at home and they made Rick’s and my journey something unforgettable. Also to the people who donated to this beautiful cause, including our generous Sponsors, thank you so much for your altruism that will help many people who really need it. For Rick I have a special gratitude for being so empathetic, generous, brave and dedicated.

2016: Santa Monica, CA to St. Augustine, FL


The Start………………………………………………………..Ale


Sarah, Ale, Maria & Maribel
in Santa Monica


Puebla, Mexico……………………………………………In Hollywood


New Orleans…………………………………………………..Nick, Kristina, Sarah, Ale & Rick


Finish in St. Augustine

I will briefly explain what I mean: Rick is an extremely easy person to travel with. We spent a lot of time together and honestly he is one of the most peaceful and reasonable people I could know. Always with a friendly temper, and as I said, very empathetic. Generous for dedicating his bike tours to the good cause of raising money to meet Laura’s Rides’ goal. He was always very interested and happy to see when someone donated to the cause. (Something that personally made me happy too.) I was able to share the experience of his good heart.

2017: Astoria, OR to Portsmouth, NH


The Start……………………………………………………….Finish in Portsmouth

Brave and hardworking. You have no idea what Rick often had to go through. There were times when before his ride I first walked the same path that Rick would do with the bicycle, and I said to myself: “Oh my god! What Rick has ahead!” On some occasions extremely difficult roads and in my opinion some somewhat dangerous. I don’t think it’s something that anyone would do; I don’t think I could have had the courage and guts that Rick had to finish his bike tours every day.

2018: Quebec, Canada to Key West, FL


Ale Leaving Orinda……………………………………….Finished!


On one occasion someone from Rick’s riding group asked me if Rick was really finishing his trips by bike every day and with the miles indicated in his agenda. My answer was that of course Rick does, since he is a determined person with an unwavering mentality. From that I learned something so important that has followed me since then. Sometimes as he himself said, “Finishing the tour has more to do with telling yourself that you can.” It was a matter of a great willpower. This thought has followed me since then in my life; when I try to do something difficult, I simply think of Rick and motivate myself and try harder.

2019: Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico


Kick-Off Party………………………………………………..Ale, Sandi, Marianne, Ken & Rick


Ale & Rick in Rosarito Beach……………………..Sandi and Ale in Rosarito Beach

Tijuana Border

That Rick has made the 4 trips across the country is something exceptional and as I said to him, I really hope that when I retire I can do things so cool, fun (although I think some bike tours were not so fun for Rick) and interesting as he did. I really want it so much.

I feel very proud of Rick and the effort and work put into Laura’s Ride over the 4 years. I know he said this year’s trip was the last. So I will miss him in my next summers. But I know we will see each other again and that makes me very happy. I don’t know where or when, but I know that I will see my favorite people in the USA, Rick and Sandi, for whom I have a huge appreciation.

Love, Ale.

Completion of the Journey; Start of a New Journey

September 14, 2019 – Completion of the Journey BBQ

We had the Completion Of The Journey BBQ on September 14 at Paul and Annie Barendregt’s home in Lafayette and a number of Laura’s Ride supporters joined us. The food was great, featuring BBQ ribs, delicious rib eye roast, a fantastic carrot cake – I can provide contact info for the pastry chef – and great food provided by the participants. The setting is beautiful and the weather was all we could have hoped for. 

I thanked all who attended and observed that by this time, I am sure that many were thinking, “what, again?”

However, this time was special to me because I considered it to be both the Completion Of The Journey and the start of a new journey.

In truth, the Journey that was recently completed just happened because it certainly wasn’t in my mind when Nick and I rode from Santa Monica to St. Augustine back in 2016. Then when I rode from Astoria to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I was so sure that that was the end of it that I had my bike repainted with a map that said “Twice Across.” Nor did I have a journey in mind when I decided to ride from Quebec City to Key West. It was only when I looked at a map of the 3 rides that a certain logic jumped out at me. After having ridden 3 sides of the country, I had to complete the journey around the USA by riding border to border on the west coast.

When I reached Tijuana on August 20 after having left Vancouver on July 16, I was relieved that I could now say, “Twice Across + 2.” I was proud that the Journey had been completed.

The Journey has twice crossed the border into and out of Canada, the first time on Laura’s Ride North and then again this year on Laura’s Ride West Coast. It has also crossed the border into Mexico. The rides have totaled more than 11,000 miles, over 280,000 feet of climbing and they have gone through 28 states, 3 Canadian provinces and into one Mexican state.

More importantly, the Journey has now raised somewhat more than $50,000 to help late stage breast cancer patients. Included in that number is the more than $11,000 that was raised this year. (The sum took an especially nice jump when Nick Bloisa pledged $500.00 at the BBQ especially since an anonymous donor had pledged to match up to $500 donated by the end of September 14.)

The $50,000 number makes it clear that I didn’t complete the Journey by myself. I didn’t donate that $50,000, you and others like you did. Ultimately, that is what made the Journey worthwhile. It was worthwhile because that money goes to help late stage breast cancer victims. We all know someone who has suffered from that awful malady. It was all of the people who donated to the 4 Laura’s Rides who contributed the $50,000+.

With few exceptions, the you and others like you are people who know either Nick, Sandi or me personally. It would have been great if we had gotten a lot of contributions like the $100 that a stranger handed me in a motel parking lot in Crescent City just because of our cause. However, I am humbled and grateful that almost all of the donations came because of your connection with Nick, Sandi or me. We thank you for that friendship.

I also didn’t do the Journey by myself because it took help. It took the help of Adam Hanin and Maria Bishop who set up and then managed our website. Maria has been my assistant since I started my own practice some 40 years ago. The fact that she has stuck with me for so long says something about her patience and tolerance. I have often said that if someone can’t get along with Maria, it is their fault, not hers. Maria has been of great help with all of the Laura’s Rides, including such things as collecting and keeping track of your donations and, this year, entering all of the content, including my posts, into the laurasride.org website. I owe Maria more than 40 years of gratitude.

Completing the Journey also took Sandi’s help, not only because she handled our social media was instrumental in the fund raising, but because she kept our home together while I was gone for months at a time. Also, despite some people who I ride with expressing doubt that I would make it across the country even once, Sandi, together with a couple of close friends, said that they never doubted I would make it. They are well acquainted with my stubbornness or, as Paul said, with my ego that wouldn’t let me not do what I had set out to do.

It also took your help in providing a very strong motivation to just keep going at those times when I didn’t want to. I knew you weren’t going to ask for your money back if I didn’t finish the ride, but my ego (see, Paul was right) wasn’t going to let me stop after the support you had given me.

(Party Guests)


Finally, there is no way I could have done the rides without Alejandra Garcia Aragon. With the exception of a few weeks of last year’s ride when Patty Levin and Johnny Ward drove and Patty handled the logistics for the balance of the trip, Ale was there throughout the entire Journey. She was essential. She drove the truck and she packed and unpacked it on a daily basis. She handled most of our logistics – booking lodging and finding dining – and she met me with cold drinks, food and an air conditioned truck during most of the rides when I needed it. Her unwavering faith that I would finish the rides despite my frequent complaining helped keep me going. The company and friendship she provided at the end of each day helped offset the homesickness that was part of the Journey. As a result of the Journey, Ale has seen much more of our country than most Americans have and she saw it up close and personal because of the leisurely pace. She also had to put up with me for more than 7 months and that says something about how strong she is.

A special thank you goes to Annie and Paul Barendregt who so graciously hosted this year’s and last year’s welcome back gatherings at their home. A similar thank you goes to Sal and Kat Italiano who hosted one of the launch parties at their home. I will also note that Paul and Annie through Very Nice Pools and Sal through SPI Consulting Engineers, Inc. have been Sponsors of all 4 rides. Others who have sponsored all 4 rides are Sam Ishaq through Andoil, Ben Shimek through Petroleum Sales, Inc., Michael Stephens, Probate, Estate and Trust Realtor through Highland Partners, my brother-in-law Russ Horning through Liquid Blue Productions, ClifBar, Perez & Miller, APC and, of course, the Lazarex Cancer Foundation. Greg Hunter through Hunter & Company Certified Public Accountants, LLP was a Sponsor in 2018 and 2019, Shimano was a Sponsors of Laura’s Ride West Coast and Formigli was a past sponsor. Special thanks go to all of them.

The bottom line is that although I did the pedaling, I know how important your support was and I want to thank you for that. THANK YOU!

I started this post by mentioning the start of a new journey. That new journey started in Rosarito Beach. In my last post I included a photo of my sandy knees that I said had some significance that I hinted I would disclose later. Well, now is that later. While walking along the water in Rosarito Beach just south of Tijuana on August 20, the day I Completed The Journey around the USA on a bicycle, I went down on my knees in the sand and asked Sandi to become my wife. I am very happy to say that she accepted and I am pleased to start that next, more exciting journey, with her.

Reflections on the completed Journey are yet to be written.

Thank you,
Rick

Rosarito Beach, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Home

August 21-24, 2019

Before I say anything else, I have to mention that Lazarex Cancer Foundation notified me that an anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $500.00 of any donations received between August 21 and the end of the day on September 14, the day of our Completion Of The Journey potluck BBQ. 

After Ale and Sandi picked me up on the side of the road after our border crossing, we drove the approximately 15 miles south of Tijuana to Rosarito Beach. I had made reservations at the Rosarito Beach Hotel because of memories of having visited there numerous 4ths of July up until I was 15 or so. My father’s extended family – consisting of his brother’s and sisters’ families and frequently friends – used to camp along the beach just south of Rosarito Beach every July 4 weekend. It was the only part of the month of July that I spent with him that I actually liked because I had numerous cousins I enjoyed spending time with. Although we didn’t stay at the hotel, my father frequently took some of us there for a meal and to sit on a patio while he drank tequila and had Mariachis play for us. I didn’t drink the tequila but I liked the Mariachis. I was also impressed by the elegance of the old style Mexican architecture of the hotel.

(Neighboring Restaurant)

To my horror, when we got to Rosarito Beach we saw a high rise sporting the name “Rosarito Beach Hotel” on the 20th or so floor. That definitely was not what I had had in mind. I realized it had been more than 50 years since I had been there, but I didn’t expect that much change. You can imagine my relief when we actually drove through the entrance and I saw that the original hotel was still as it had been. From what my cousin Bob later told me, the high rise is in fact a condominium project owned by the hotel owner’s wife and apparently bears the hotel’s name because of its recognition factor – the hotel has been open since 1924 – and the much greater visibility of having the name some 20 stories above street level.

(What I Remembered) (High Rise)

The hotel remains much as I had remembered it. It still has an impressive elegance although it doesn’t have the glamor it had in its earlier days when it had guests such as Orson Wells, Edward G. Robinson, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Spencer Tracy, Anthony Quinn, the son of the Shah of Iran, Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Robert Redford. No doubt the sign saying, “Por esta puerta pasan las mujeres mas bellas del mundo” (“Through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world”) was inspired by such guests as Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett, Kim Novak and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
(Hotel Interior)

As was true during the entire trip, we were blessed by beautiful weather so we had views of both blue sky and the blue ocean from our room which, by the way, cost considerably less than some of the motels we had visited in the previous weeks.

The food at the hotel was good and reasonably priced and there were numerous options, also inexpensive but good, within easy walking distance. Although we were somewhat in a hurry to get home, we could see visiting there again when we feel more leisurely.  This post includes some photos of our visit and the one of my sandy knees actually has some significance to it.



(Me with Sandi and Ale)

After 2 nights at Rosarito Beach, Ale flew home to Pueblo, via Mexico City, from Tijuana and Sandi and I drove to my condo in LA. We enjoyed having a number of family and friends over on August 24 even though the gathering didn’t result in any additional donations.

Sunday evening we had dinner at the home of Jeff and Beryl Miller. Jeff is my former law partner – as in “Perez & Miller, APC” – and they both remain good friends. The food was good – scallops prepared differently than I have had before – the view of Los Angeles from their hill side home was spectacular and the company, as always, was enjoyable.

On the drive home, we first stopped at a movie studio in Santa Clarita where my daughter, Kristina, is working on the “Good Trouble” tv series as the script supervisor. It was fun watching some of the filming though we watched on a monitor in a separate room. No, we weren’t banished there; that is where the director’s monitor is and where Kristina spends most of her time. As with the military, the mantra must be, “hurry up and wait” with a major emphasis on the “wait” because that is what most of the time consists of unless you are one of the numerous people who are scurrying around moving cameras, lights, microphones, etc., between scenes.

From there we drove to Bakersfield where we stopped in to see my best friend from college, Dr. Vernon Sorenson, who owns and operates Memorial Occupational Medicine. We had roomed together at Sigma Chi for 1 ½ years before I moved in with Jerry and Ruth Schwartz who I mentioned in my Ventura post. We hadn’t seen each other in 25 or so years and I greatly enjoyed renewing the friendship. I was especially appreciative of the fact that he had donated $500 to Laura’s Ride West Coast although I am sorry he had lost a sister to breast cancer.

We then drove home and reunited with our pets, Sky, our 8 month old American Bulldog), our cats, Fey, Calle (our rescue cat from Buenos Aires) and Bear and Buttons, and our Greater Sulfur Crested Cockatoo.

You aren’t done with me quite yet because I intend to write after our Completion Of The Journey potluck BBQ on September 14 at the home of our good friends, Paul and Annie Barendregt, in Lafayette. I will provide more info if you are interested in attending.

Later,
Rick
rickperez@perezmiller.com

Multiple Goals Achieved

August 20

We, Ale and I, had an enjoyable dinner last night with Ken and Marianne, Ken’s grilled chicken and Marianne’s vegetables and salad. Sandi wasn’t with us because she had to delay her flight so she could take Sky to the vet with what turned out to be an ear infection. Even though Sandi didn’t get in until after midnight, we were glad that she had stayed home to get Sky taken care of before we return home next week.

Sandi got to meet Marianne and Ken at breakfast when we all enjoyed Ken’s steel cut oatmeal for which he is renowned. This was just a small part of the great hospitality we were shown in the Klaymans’ home. I am so glad for Ken’s invitation that revived a great friendship. 



The first, and likely most important goal, was met this morning before I even started riding. It occurred when I found an envelope labeled “Lazarex Cancer Foundation” sitting on my suitcase.  I was thrilled to see that Ken had put us over the $10,000 mark so that we reached this year’s goal. (That does NOT mean that additional contributions will not still be greatly appreciated.) THANK YOU Ken and everyone else who has supported this effort with your generosity and enthusiasm. I am proud to have been part of this effort and I am proud to know so many people who have contributed to this very worthy cause. I haven’t added up all 4 years, but I believe we are very close to having raised $50,000 to assist breast cancer victims. I think that we can all be very proud of that effort.

(Leaving San Diego)

Today’s ride in itself was pretty unremarkable. It was mainly urban riding which means that there was little opportunity to get up any speed because of the various stop signs, traffic signals, rough surfaces and intersections. But none of the ride was bad, either. Virtually all of the roads were reasonable, the traffic wasn’t oppressive, the undulating roads provided some climbs, there were no worrisome crosswinds and I knew that the end was in sight. And, of course, the weather was ideal.

(Just before the Border)

The finish itself was pretty anticlimactic.  I met Ale and Sandi shortly before the border to try to coordinate our crossings so that they could photograph me entering Mexico. There were a few problems with that plan, however.

(Approaching the Border)


(The Border)

For one, unlike when I have crossed the Canadian border in either direction, bicycles don’t cross at the same point as do motor vehicles. Instead, they cross with pedestrians, which are numerous. Because they are numerous, I couldn’t ride my bike, but had to walk it to and across the border. Plus, the crossing itself occurred in a building that sported “No photographs” signs. After I had my passport stamped by Mexico, I had to WALK out of the building.  

Then, when I finally got through the building and the pedestrian walk way, Sandi and Ale were no where to be seen. They had entered Mexico at a totally different location. Though they left me a message saying that they were at Costco, I couldn’t reach them because the directions I got from 2 locals landed me on a freeway. Going the wrong direction. I had to turn around and walk off because although the clearance should be the same whether I am going with or against the traffic, seeing the vehicles racing towards me is more terrifying than I can stand. Maybe there is truth to the statement that ignorance is bliss.

It was only thanks to Ale’s skill in using her locator app that we finally found each other and that was on a busy street that did not lend itself to any photo ops. This ending was so unlike Nick’s and my finish in St. Augustine in 2016 when we actually had people cheering us. Or when Sandi and Ale greeted us – “us” because local Bob Bernoth joined me for most of the last leg – at the well defined finish at the ocean in Portsmouth in 2017. Or even when Johnny Ward met me at the pier in Key West where I finished last year’s ride.

Despite that, however, another goal was achieved by crossing the border even if the crossing was not commemorated or preserved by a photograph. In turn, completing Laura’s ride West Coast achieved another goal that had become important to me, namely riding around the entire USA. “Twice Across + 2” has now been accomplished.

I hope to see many of you on September 14 at the Completion Of The Journey potluck bbq in Lafayette. Let me know if you are interested so I can provide more info.

I will post some reflections after my thoughts have had a chance to marinate for a while.

Until then, thank you for your support and generosity.
Rick

Oceanside to San Diego – The last work day.

August 19 – 44.5 miles, 1,638 feet, 2,302 calories

The Garmin is working again after leaving it on and letting the battery totally run out.

It was the penultimate day with only a 20 mile ride the next day.  The work aspect was mitigated by the fact that the destination was the home of my best friends in law school, Ken and Marianne Klayman, who I hadn’t seen in years. 

As has been true lately, the ride was on reasonable roads that didn’t have me threatened by the traffic. As usual, the weather was good, which can go without saying by this time. There were a few stretches where I could push pretty good, including roads on which cyclists were permitted to use the entire right lane, which feels very good.

Along the way, I met Dave, a contemporary who lives in Encinitas. We rode together for a few miles and I enjoyed the company.

(Dave)

Possibly the biggest challenge of the day was trying to figure out Google’s directions after it led me onto the UCSDi. After being led onto dead end paths through campus I finally went in a direction that felt right until the sane version of Google kicked back in.

The ride to Ken’s involved some climbing, topped off with a short stretch of 11%.

Certainly the company and hospitality were worth it.

Now on to the Completion Of The Journey to make Twice Across + 2 come true. 

Best, Rick


Newport Beach to Oceanside – Riding can be fun; in fact, it should be.

August 18 – 60 miles, 1,280 feet

Data is approximate because I now have 2 malfunctioning Garmins. The recent one wouldn’t charge and only registered “Acquiring satellites” and I couldn’t even turn it off. I hope that when the battery finally fully dies that I will be able to reset it. I do miss the data.

On the other hand, not having any data means the I don’t know how far I have gone while I am riding so that I can’t calculate how many miles remain to finish the ride. Since that is usually one of my most frequent pass times, I now have to find other ways to occupy myself. Maybe that just leaves me more time to check in on how various body parts are feeling, whether I should change my position and, if so, how, what the road is like, what debris I need to avoid and whether the traffic is bothering me. Unfortunately, I can’t honestly say that I engage in any deep philosophical contemplations during all of the hours I spend on the bike. Too bad, because with all of the time I have, I should come up with numerous profound thoughts and ideas. Instead you get this.  

More beautiful weather, both for riding and for the numerous beach goers I have seen who have taken advantage of it. Since I have been told how dumb we were to have ridden through the desert of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas during the summer in 2016 because of the certainty of debilitating heat and humidity, maybe I should get some credit for the consistently good weather I have experienced on this ride. Just as I am due blame for the near crippling weather on the route I chose for Laura’s Ride 2016, shouldn’t I get credit for the great weather on the route I chose for Laura’s Ride West Coast? It only seems fair.

(Oceanside)

I also have to mention how the riding conditions have been overwhelmingly good since Santa Monica. Not coincidentally, the pain in my back is continuing to improve. There have been numerous well surfaced bike trails that have avoided major traffic and the roads I have ridden on have usually had ok shoulders, bike lanes or the opportunity to claim a lane for myself. Today’s ride certainly fit that pattern. Included was a stretch of about 10 miles of a very bike friendly route along the coast within Fort Pendleton, a marine base. That ride was made more fun because after having passed numerous people on bikes, another cyclist raced by me while I was doing some stretching on the bike. That got some juices flowing and I had to catch up, which I finally did shortly before I was directed to the on ramp for US Highway 5. That felt good.

I can’t even complain about the 5+ miles I spent on US 5 and the hundreds, if not thousands, of vehicles going by at 65+ mph because there was a very wide shoulder that was more smoothly surfaced than the highway itself. The conditions were such that those miles went by faster than I had expected (remember, I didn’t have an odometer to keep track of the miles).

Not too far before I entered Fort Pendleton, I was riding through what I believe was downtown San Clemente. I noticed a bike that was obviously loaded for a long ride leaning up against a building to my right with someone standing nearby. I naturally had to look closer and I was surprised to see Marcus McKee. I stopped and we talked for a bit, comparing some notes about the conditions we had encountered, including the annoying volume of traffic. Marcus is the rider I first met at a C-store just before the biggest 2 climbs on the ride to Cambria. He is also going Vancouver to the border but he won’t cross since he didn’t have a current passport. But he is doing the ride the hard way, being totally self supported. It was great to see him again and I wish him the best on these last few miles. I call them “few” because that makes me feel better since we obviously have about the same distance to go.

(Marcus)

Oh, yes, today was also good because I didn’t have any flats. After having had a pretty good start to this ride, over a couple of days the number reached 6. I realized that they became so frequent that I stopped mentioning them. I guess my ride across the country without getting even 1 flat on Laura’s Ride North wasn’t due to my superior skill. Unless, of course, that skill has diminished significantly over the last 2 years. Unfortunately, given other deteriorations I have experienced over the past few years, that may not be so far fetched.

Today wasn’t so good to the extent that the coffin again flew open (after having done so at the start of the 2016 Ride), resulting in the loss of rain clothes and an extra helmet that were up there. My spare tubes, cartridges and some parts managed to survive. It was my fault because I had mistakenly thought that I had pulled the top down all the way the last time I had to get a tube and cartridge. It took a lot of miles before I was proven wrong.

Since this also serves as a bit of a diary and I want to remember such details, I will mention that Google had me confused when it sent me down a street marked “No Outlet” that led to a train station and then told me to turn where there was no apparent place to turn. I turned around to leave that street and then got repeated messages of “turn left in 600 feet,” “turn right in 400 feet” and other contradictory and inconsistent directions.  When I rode a ways but still couldn’t find any other way to get to the next street Google was trying to get me to, I turned around to repeat the route that had me turning where there was no apparent place to turn. This time I noticed a down staircase. That took me under the train tracks that had blocked my access to the road I wanted to reach. Problem solved, after probably 30 or so minutes, a distance I had no way to measure but was well more than a mile and, more annoying, a fair amount of frustration.

Tomorrow I ride to San Diego to stay with my best friends from law school, Ken Klayman and his wife Marianne. I am greatly looking forward to seeing them for the first time in way too many years.

With a $100 pledge today, we are getting closer to the $10,000 goal. Only $220 to go. I am sure we should be able to make that with your help.

Best,
Rick

Santa Monica to Newport Beach

August 17 – 53 miles, 666 feet, 2,503 calories

When I last drove south of Santa Monica, I wondered how a bicyclist would survive on the road going south along the coast because of the heavy traffic and lack of any place for a bicycle.  Fortunately, that turned out not to be a problem. The beach bike path lasted quite a while south of Santa Monica and avoided most of what I had seen on that drive. In fact, although there was definitely urban riding today, including through some very industrialized areas, probably more than half the ride was on bike paths. Some were literally on the beach with one along the Los Angeles River. It doesn’t exactly challenge any of the many rivers I have seen on this ride aesthetically, but it does have a lot of water. And it had a paved bike path that avoided a lot of traffic and that alone makes it worthwhile.

Along the way out of Santa Monica I had been riding behind a cyclist who was obviously familiar with the route I was then on. His familiarity with the area definitely improved my ride today. We started talking and I told him I was riding to Newport Beach and he said he was riding to Palos Verdes. He made some suggestions while we were riding that contradicted what Google Maps was telling me. He became credible because those suggestions worked out well.

At a stop we introduced ourselves and we got someone to take our photo. Because he, Karlo, wondered why Google was telling me to turn on a street that he disagreed with, I handed him my phone so he could see Google’s route. He said that it had me riding on a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway north of Long Beach that is very unfriendly to cyclists. He suggested an alternative that turned out to be great. It avoided that portion of the PCH by working me over to bike paths that kept me away from cars and were good riding. Included was the one along the LA River and then one that took me along the waterfront in Long Beach that went by launch points for Catalina Island. It was safe and picturesque, a combination I thoroughly enjoyed.

(Karlo)

Karlo was also right in that when I got on the PCH south of Long Beach, it was designed to accommodate bikes with wide shoulders and bike lanes. The result was that I went the entire day without really feeling threatened by traffic and that in itself made for a good ride.

When Karlo and I rode through Manhattan Beach on a bike path, we had to walk one stretch because it had been closed to riders as the result of the pedestrian traffic caused by a massive beach volleyball tournament. We didn’t see any of it, but I think it would have been fun to visit. The beach trail in Long Beach also went through areas that I would like to visit when I have the time to just walk around.

The ride finished on yet another beach bicycle trail, this one going along the beach in Huntington Beach. There were so many people that the riding was slow but still fun. Only in part due to some of the women who wore bathing suits that may as well have been backless. And I am referring to the bottom part of the suits.

Today was a gorgeous day to be at the beach and I rode by thousands who were. It was also a glorious day to be on a bike and I was one of a much smaller number who were fortunate enough to be doing just that. Life is good.

Three days to go to Complete this amazing Journey. And $320 to go to reach $10,000. I intend to do the 3 days. I hope those of you who have thought about donating but haven’t done so yet will help us get at least that last $320 by going ahead and donating.  If we happen to exceed the $10,000, so much the better. Remember, the money goes directly and entirely to help late stage cancer patients.

Good night,
Rick

Ventura to Santa Monica

August 16 – 56 miles, 850 feet

This ride, yesterday’s, was basically on Hwy. 1 once I reached Hueneme. Getting to and through Hueneme was on a variety of roads, some through residential areas, some through agricultural areas.

Posted is a photo of a jet that is in a small display park right at the entrance to Hwy. 1. However, getting onto Hwy. 1 was troublesome because the on ramp Google directed me to had a sign banning, among others things, bicycles. I found a frontage road that went a mile or so to the next on ramp and because it was right after the freeway ended, bicycles were not prohibited. That started a lengthy ride on Hwy. 1, all of which had lots of traffic but most of which had ok shoulders. That was mostly ok but with a 2-3 mile stretch I preferred to avoid because of crosswinds, a narrow shoulder and very fast traffic.  

I thought it was interesting to see all of the RVs, of all sizes and types, that were set up and camping along various stretches of the highway where there was good beach access. The weather was nice so there were a lot of people on the beach.  Unfortunately, I had to concentrate on where I was riding because of the traffic so I wasn’t able to enjoy the scenery, some of which consisted of people, as much as I might otherwise have been able to. 

I hadn’t previously realized that the town of Malibu stretches on for more than 20 miles. That is a lot of coastline for one small city. It also meant that it took me longer to get through Malibu to Santa Monica than I had thought it would.

I remember seeing Pepperdine University overlooking the coast and wondering how serious a school could be with a setting like that. Maybe it focuses on will power because it would certainly take a lot to resist the call of the ocean and beach, especially on a pretty day. Yesterday was more than that, it was a beautiful day; blue skies and warm but not hot weather. From what I could see, a lot of people did succumb to the beach’s call.

The last few miles to the Santa Monica pier were especially fun. When a couple of riders whizzed past me, I thought that I was close enough to the finish to be able to push hard without risking blowing up with lots of miles to go. The result was that I took after the 2 cyclists. I caught 1 fairly quickly but it took a while to catch the other one. The pushing hard was fun, especially since I knew that the end was near.

Riding to the Santa Monica Pier felt somewhat triumphant. In part because LA was my home for so long, from birth through 4 years at UCLA. It also felt that way in part because that pier was the end of Dave Bagley’s Moraga to Los Angeles ride. And finally, it felt that way in part because the pier is very close to where we started the first Laura’s Ride in 2016 when Nick and I rode from Santa Monica to St. Augustine, FL. So this ride has now gone through 2 places where I started other Laura’s rides, the other being Sunset Beach in Oregon a few miles west of Astoria where we started Laura’s Ride North to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 2017.

(Santa Monica Pier)

(Recognize the location? It’s where I started the Santa Monica, CA to Augustine, FL, ride in 2016.)

Ale met me at the pier and we drove to my condo in Korea town where we spent the night.  I had dinner with my daughter Kristina while Ale visited with an aunt and cousin she had never meet.

Rick

Santa Barbara to Ventura – It feels like an off day.

August 15 – 33 miles, 1,022 feet and 1,629 calories

It would be difficult for the ride to have been any better. More ideal weather. A route that could have been designed and constructed by a cyclist. Good shoulders, bicycle lanes and bicycle paths. Pretty ocean and beach views. No troublesome crosswinds. No terrorizing traffic, in large part because of those wide shoulders, bicycle lanes, bike paths and no troublesome crosswinds. And those same factors, together with only 33 miles of riding, meant no stabbing back pain. As I said, it would be difficult for the ride to have been any better.

Speaking of those back pains. Yesterday I read a Comment to one of my posts that mentioned the breast cancer victims that this ride is for. It embarrassed me a bit to have repeatedly mentioned my aches and pains on this ride while not thinking at all about the much more serious and severe problems of those who I hope that your generosity helps, at least a little. That others have more serious problems doesn’t diminish the discomfort I felt, but it certainly puts it into context. Actually, the very fact that I have the choice to eliminate the discomforts about which I have complained puts them in an entirely different category. All I have to do is stop riding. That I don’t is my choice. But what choice does someone with cancer have that will make everything all right again? We can only hope that the contributions that Laura’s Rides have raised will help lessen, or, much better yet, even eliminate, the pain and discomfort of at least one cancer patient. If that is accomplished, that will far overshadow the minor inconveniences I have experienced the past very few weeks.

By the way, I see that we are now at $9,680 because of some more of your greatly appreciated generosity. A mere $320 to go to reach the goal of $10,000. (Exceeding that would be acceptable too.)

I mentioned that we would be staying with a friend from my time at UCLA while here in Ventura. We are, and the great hospitality is appreciated. The friend is Ruth Schwartz and she was not a classmate. When I told my father that I no longer wanted his financial help in college, I needed a place to live. I ended up meeting one of the greatest families ever, Ruth and her husband Jerry and their sons Mike and Jeff. In exchange for doing dinner dishes and occasionally “baby sitting” Mike and Jeff, I got room and board. But, more importantly, I made lifelong friends. I was treated as a member of the family, and what an incredible family it is. I lived with them for 2 years and not once was there ever an argument or even a serious disagreement. I don’t mean just between Jerry and Ruth, but even involving the boys, who were in the 5th and 6th and then 6th and 7th grades. No, I never saw even the brothers argue. None of this was because they were a Stepford family, but instead because they just got along incredibly well and were all genuinely nice people. Actually, the only disagreements I recall were between Ruth and me when we would discuss politics or economics and those were friendly, not heated. (She was farther to the “left” than I thought the gap has probably narrowed some over the years, due to my movement, not hers.)

(Ruth)

We are staying with Ruth because Jerry has passed away. Tragically, so did Jeff when he was only about 21, a victim of leukemia. However, Mike and his wife Laurie will be joining us for dinner tonight. Kristina drove up from Los Angeles to have lunch with us. Since I will be seeing her tomorrow when we reach Santa Monica, she came mostly to see Ruth who she has known and liked since she was a baby.

Well, 1 of the 6 preceding paragraphs was about the ride. But the other 5 were important to me and I get to choose what I write.

Tomorrow’s ride will be somewhat longer, 59 miles. I intend to meet Alejandra at the Santa Monica pier. We will drive to my condo near downtown (Korea Town) for the night and she will drive me back to the pier to start the next day’s ride.

Only 5 ride days left. To Santa Monica, Newport Beach, Oceanside, San Diego and then the border. Then I hope to see many of you on September 14 at the Completion Of The Journey potluck dinner at Paul and Annie Barendregt’s home in Lafayette.

‘Til next time,
Rick

Lompoc to Santa Barbara – A couple of glitches but mostly a great day of riding.

August 14 – 55 miles (turned into 64), 2,160 feet, 3,050 calories

I said we had liked dinners at Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana our first night in Pismo Beach. We proved that by going back the 2nd night. I even had the same dish, Ravioli stuffed with squash and covered with a cream sauce. Alejandra had a green salad and pasta with meatballs. And we both had, and loved, their Italian bread with that scrumptious cheese/garlic/olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip. No dessert this time, though.  Not because the strawberry shortcake wasn’t good, because it was, but because we had cinnamon rolls for lunch. Enough is enough, after all.


Last night in Lompoc we had sushi. Good, but not great.

On to today. The first glitch came a very few miles into the ride. I saw 2 bicyclists and a 3rd man stopped on the road so I asked if everything was ok, something we always do at home.  (More on that later.) They were fine, but Highway 1, the route from Lompoc to Santa Barbara, was closed. Because bicycles can often get through even on closed roads, and because there was a turnoff where the road was closed, we decided to ride ahead to see what we could do. It turns out that what we could do, at least within the realm of reason, was to go back the mile we had just ridden and take a route through Buellton which added 10 miles to the trip (they were also headed for Santa Barbara, a ride they had made from Cambria numerous times over the years).



There were 2 reasons we had to turn around. The first was that we were emphatically told that Hwy. 1 was closed to EVERYONE, including cyclists and even emergency vehicles.  Work was being done on a bridge and there was no way around, even by walking. At least that is what we were told. The second reason we turned back was that the same person who told us we couldn’t take Hwy. 1 also told us that the road we had planned on turning onto was so bad that he would only suggest it to his ex. He convinced us that it was in such bad condition, and so dangerous, that we shouldn’t even try. We decided to take his advice.

I had planned on riding to Santa Barbara with them but they were so slow that I just couldn’t do it. I had wanted to get their names and a photo but they were so far behind that that didn’t work out.

The ride to Buellton and onto Hwy. 101 was fun. Good roads and no interfering wind and shoulders wide enough that traffic really wasn’t a problem.

That changed for about 10+ miles when riding through some mountains.  The shoulders were still adequate but there was enough crosswind that I didn’t enjoy that at all. I pulled into a rest area for a break, to stretch, to use the facilities and to take stock of my attitude. While there I talked with a woman from Germany who was riding a Harley from New York to San Diego after having gone across the northern part of the country. I enjoyed the conversation and I think she liked practicing her English, which was really pretty good.  Although I appreciated the break, and any excuse not to get back out into the wind, I knew I had to get started again.

Then after 2-300 yards, the second glitch. My 4th flat tire. No big deal, but it led to another problem later.

The good news was that after I started riding again, everything was better. No more crosswind so I stopped riding my brakes to a ridiculous extent on the descents and I started picking up speed. In fact, from that point on, the rest of the ride was fun. The conditions were friendly, meaning wide, smooth shoulders on the highway and bike lanes when in towns.

When Ale caught me I got another tube and cartridge out of the coffin (the name Nick bestowed on our roof top carrier on Laura’s Ride 2016) to replace what I had used on the flat. I took the saddle bag off my bike to rearrange it to get the new spare tube and cartridge to fit. And then I did something that led to the next glitch. But I didn’t know it yet.

I got back on and started riding again. With about 14 miles to go, I got another flat, this time the front tire which is pretty unusual because with more weight on the rear that is much more likely to flat. No big deal, right, because I had 2 more spare tubes and 2 more air cartridges. But it turned out that I had left the device that is used with the cartridge to inflate the tire in the SAG. And the bicyclists that rode by were no help. None asked if I needed help and when I flagged a couple down, they quickly said they couldn’t help. This is in stark contrast to what we would do at home.

Thankfully I had Ale to call but she had to spend about 20 minutes getting back to me. It turned out that I needed most of that time to remove the small piece of wire that had penetrated the tire and punctured the tube. I could feel it but couldn’t grab it. Oh for some tweezers. I finally pushed it through enough with the valve stem of the flat tire to be able to pull it out. Then Ale rescued me by showing up with the pump and the device I had managed to leave in the truck.

The final 14 miles were a pleasure. Good roads, good conditions and my legs were good. Even the pain in my back was much improved since I had gotten past that one stretch on 101.

I also have to say that, as always on this trip, the weather was great. It varied from being misty and cool enough to put on a light windbreaker to warm enough to have to take it off. But there was nothing extreme and it was all good. Including Santa Barbara where the sky was blue and the temperature comfortably warm.

We walked from our motel, from which the ocean is visible just out our door, to a pier that had a few restaurants. 



We chose one at the end. Ale had mussels and I ordered the local abalone but should having realized from the low price that it wasn’t what I had in mind. It was ok, but nothing like what I was hoping for.

Ventura tomorrow where we will stay with a very good friend from UCLA, but more about her after that ride. Kristina will also join us there for lunch. So I am definitely looking forward to it.

Best,
Rick