Two For One And An Intro To The Inferno Of Hell

It was late and I had no energy, hence no post yesterday. And the same factors are my excuse for why no photos now because I don’t yet have them. Hopefully I will include some on a rest day. So, I am sorry, but instead of getting the photos that you probably prefer, you are stuck with my ramblings.
So yesterday and today we started out with no directional problems.
Oh, wait. I must be confusing us with someone else. Because both days we added some unnecessary miles. I guess the scheduled rides aren’t long enough.
Yesterday was Palm Springs to 29 Palms. It was hot, but I forget the numbers because today burned them from my mind. More on that later.
The ride was 44 miles with 3,200′ of climb. Not bad, but packed into a relatively short distance. There was wind, but none as scary as on our Cambria to Solvang ride. However, there were times when the tail winds definitely sped things up. So far, the wind has generally been at our backs. Generally, but definitely not always.
We have discovered that a major element in arriving at an ETA is the time we spend stopped rechecking our directions. Or asking locals for help. So far the advice has been right about half the time but we have done a good job of rejecting advice that we later discovered was wrong.
Today started as all of our days have started – except for day 1 when Manuel so graciously guided us – with us missing some turns. Once it wasn’t our fault. Once it was because 2.1 miles got read as 21 miles. That will show you the importance of decimals.
Today was notable for a couple of things (in addition to reading 2.1 miles as 21 miles). One was the long stretches of road that stretched just about as far as one can see. That can play some games with your mind as you keep pedaling and pedaling and the end seems to stay as far away as when you started. But what really plays with your mind – at least with mine; Nick claims to have been unaffected – is when you are riding in temperatures so hot that when I stopped for some water and was told that it was only 103 in the shade, that felt cool. The high that our Garmins registered was 114 and virtually the whole day was spent at 103 to 107, with times well above that.
Drink, drink and drink some more. Great advice. However that doesn’t stop you from getting hot. At about mile 86 I ran out of water after having filled up from our SAG about 35 miles earlier. I pulled into a shop that sells tires – because there was no place in sight that sold beverages or anything you would wand to ingest. The stop proved fortuitous for me because although my legs felt pretty good. I was feeling light headed and a bit queasy. After pouring numerous bottles of tap water (which means it was fairly warm) over my head and sitting and talking to the 2 guys who seemed to run the shop for a while, I started feeling more normal. After a stop at a truck stop for some more cold beverages – contrary to the local’s advice – we were told we had 20 miles to go when we had expected 10. Well, wishing for 10 didn’t seem to have any effect so we had to adjust our expectations and just start riding.
I was feeling fairly strong at this stage – relatively speaking – and the constant 1 to 2% grade was pretty manageable, especially when the pavement improved. However, at mile 98 – 5 miles from the expected end – my Garmin died. Since the finish was in the thriving metropolis of Goffs – population of 23 with no open businesses – this caused a problem because I couldn’t keep track of how far I had gone so that I ended up speeding right past where I should have stopped. I finally got concerned when I was sure I had gone more than 5 miles, which proved to be true. I finally managed to reach Sarah and Alejandra who told me that Nick had arrivved, but from their app they could see I had gone well past town. It was a good thing they located me because my phone died soon after.
So, the total was 108 miles and about 3,500′ of climb. But for me, probably the most significant numbers were the regular readings of 110+ degrees. With up coming rides over the next 3 days of 77 miles, 50 and 113, many in comparable temperatures, this week is going to be a challenge.
I have to express the thanks here that Nick and I have expressed directly. Ale and Sarah have done a great job. When we get to our room, all of our bags are waiting for us and drinks are in the fridge. And I have had my first ever – and now second – 4 handed massage. Thank you ladies!

An Early Day Off & Miscellaneous

Today we took a preplanned day off, primarily to visitPalm Springs\Palm Desert.
At Alejandra’s urging, we started the day with a hike in the hills of a local Indian reservation. We got a decidedly better welcome this time than we did yesterday, though we were charged $5.00 each to get in.
The rest of the day was uneventful though we got a hint of the heat that is approaching. I heard that 117 is projected in a couple of days. This next week or so is going to be a major test. We have to remember to just keep pedaling. And, of course, to drink and keep drinking. And drink some more.
Since we didn’t ride today, I thought I would fill in with some miscellaneous photos from some earlier days.
Thank you for the continued messages of good wishes, for reading these posts and for leaving comments though I’m not sure where they show up on our website. No doubt all of your attention and support will be in our minds when the temperature makes us wonder why we are doing what we are doing.
Utilizing Manuel's "red carpet" from the Pacific

Utilizing Manuel’s “red carpet” from the Pacific

The start of a ride

The start of a ride

Nick doing what Nick does

Nick doing what Nick does

Nick in the culvert

Nick in the culvert

At Least No One Got Hurt, At Least Not Badly

What started out as a 60 mile ride ended up being 68+ miles. What should have taken 4 to 5 hours took 7 ½.  (And as I re-read this, I see that this posting also ended up way longer than intended.)
Some of the extra time, and miles, was due to us not reading directions well. We turned right when we should have turned left and we rode right by a couple of turns. The first of those only cost us some extra distance and lost time, both in covering unnecessary miles and in trying to get correct directions. The second time introduced us to the only real climb we have had, about 1,000 feet of elevation , much of which was between 8 ½ and 11%. When we got to the top we realized we had missed a turn and had to go back down what we had just climbed. As Nick said, though, if we were going to have to climb as a result of a mistake, better to have the climb before the mistake than after.
Then Google Maps contributed to the fun. It led us right up to an Indian reservation. Unfortunately this was not like the one I visited outside of Taos a couple of years ago. Instead of welcoming us, the guard said the reservation was private property, and was in fact a sovereign nation. My agreement but request for permission to ride across was met with an absolute refusal. Nick pointing out that we got there as a result of Google Maps was no more successful, with the guard acknowledging that that was true but made no difference. So now we had to back track – again – and figure out how to circumnavigate the reservation and get back on track. Easier said than done. The directions we got landed us on a freeway, a place more comfortable when you are in a car than on a bike. We finally got back on track, only for Nick to get a flat.
Thinking that pretty much that could happen had already happened, we set off in what turned out to be a state of ignorance. Because this time we were led to a road that turned to gravel, that turned to sand and then disappeared. The wind had been so strong at our backs that the thought of turning around was pretty unacceptable. We would have had to walk a good distance and given that we had followed the directions correctly – novel as that was on that ride – we had no idea where to go. So we decided to go down into a large culvert that was paved and looked like a good riding surface while appearing to go in the right direction. Besides, given the time of year, how likely was a flash flood? At least we were right about that. But not about the good riding surface because the pavement soon disappeared only to be replaced by sand that our bikes definitely were not designed to negotiate. (At least that is my excuse for the scrapes on my arm and leg from taking a tumble at 2 mph while getting stuck in the sand; hence the “At Least Not Badly” in the title.) Nor were we correct about the culvert going in the right direction because it abruptly ended. Now what to do? Especially since going back looked pretty much impossible because of the sand and fierce wind, or at least way more difficult than we wanted to face. So we picked up our bikes and started walking with the wind literally whipping the bikes around (there was a reason for all of the windmills on the surrounding hills). After about a mile that seemed longer because we were in our bike shoes, through sheer luck we finally found a path that led to a road. And finally we were back on track, though 3+ hours behind schedule.
At least I set a couple of personal records. The first was for the slowest pace I have ever maintained over 30 miles. I know there was some headwind because there was a breeze in my face and I certainly wasn’t going fast enough to generate any wind movement. On a somewhat more positive note, I think that the 34 mph I hit was the fastest I have maintained with only a – 1% and less elevation grade. It is amazing what a tail wind can do for you.
I have to say that if I am going to have such an ill fated ride, I can’t think of a better partner than Nick. He didn’t lose his temper or get overly upset and we were able to joke about this being a part of our adventure of a lifetime. Of course we enjoyed it a lot more once we were finished and had our post ride showers.
It is now 1:30 a.m. and I am determined to post this even if I haven’t downloaded any photos. If I am still willing to think about it, I will add some tomorrow. No, wait; now is already tomorrow. See, I have to get to sleep.
Nick in the culvert

Nick in the culvert

Leaving From The Pacific Ocean; Day One Completed

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We got am early start on day one to meet the requirements of the media. Yep, we are celebrities, at least we are if appearing on the Azteca tv network qualifies as being celebrities (Azteca is one of the 3 Spanish language networks, behind Univision and Telemundo.) Well, we were also interviewed for the Lamorinda News and the East Bay Times. Since Nick and Alejandra are our only Spanish speakers, Azteca featured them. I guess my father was right when he used to tell me I should learn Spanish.
Thanks to Manuel Montanez, we got the Red Carpet treatment when it came time to dip our rear wheels in the Pacific for the traditional sendoff. He literally had plywood laid down so we could ride over the sand from the water’s edge. And he swept the existing boardwalk so it would be free of sand.
Also a thanks to Sandi for her heartfelt sendoff prayer. Together with the prayer minister Dave gave at the Launch Party and the warm thoughts and best wishes that so many of you have given us, we should be well fortified for our ride.
More kudos to Manuel and his wife Marguerita and his grandson Oscar for leading us all of the way from Santa Monica to San Bernadino. He chose a route that was free of bad traffic and for much of the ride he escorted us with flashing lights that kept much of the traffic at bay.
The ride itself was an easy 80 miles. There were no big climbs, no suffering to keep up with one of the breakaways that seem to frequently characterize our regular rides and no mad sprint to Rudgear. And the weather was great. The sweltering heat is still in our future. The most difficult part of the ride, and what made it take much longer than it otherwise would have, were the interminable stops and starts for stop lights and stop signs.
But we did finish our first day of riding with no mishaps. Only about 47 or so more riding days to go!
Although I hoped to post here daily, I found that that may be a bit more difficult than I thought. Even after an easy day, the 80 miles didn’t leave me with an abundance of energy, or time. But I will try.
Thank you to all of you who have sent us your encouragement and best wishes. And of course thank you to everyone whose generous donations have given our ride so much meaning.

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Classic Tourists: Beverly Hills, The Grove & Hollywood Blvd.

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How could we not take Alejandra and Sarah to Beverly Hills? Which we did. Many stores were closed because it was Sunday but there were still enough outrageous prices and avant garde styles to be interesting. And oh so horribly ostentatiously American. What a target it would make for Bernie!
From there we went to the Farmers Market at the Grove. Although it has evolved into a huge, diverse food court, the Farmers Market is a long time Los Angeles institution (old enough that I visited while a child). On the other hand, the Grove feels much like a modern version of Main Street Disneyland: lots of activities, extremely clean, interesting people watching and a definite pre-planned feel to it.
We then had to head to Hollywood. In taking us to “Hollywood Blvd.,” our Garmin routed us into the Hollywood Hills where two way roads would have been narrow even if designated one way. However, the views on a clear day – and we were blessed with a clear day – of Los Angeles were fantastic. Unfortunately, none of us had the sense to take any pictures, maybe because we – at least I as the driver – were concerned about a car coming around a blind curve with no place to pass. Although it was an unexpected detour, we all agreed that the views – both from the height of the hills and of many of the homes – made it worthwhile.
We then dropped back down to the Hollywood Blvd. we had been aiming for. And it was what one would expect today: a mass of tourists – to which we contributed – costumed movie and comic book characters, street vendors and artists, tatoo parlors, side walk stars with the names of “celebrities,” some of whom you would recognize and many of whom you would not, and stores into which you shouldn’t take your children.
We have one more day of Los Angeles – with Nick, who is joining us Monday morning – and then the real adventure will begin.

Two Very Busy Days

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Alejandra arrived at SFO Wednesday evening and walked right by me at the gate. So much for my photo being memorable. However, I chased her down and, after spending time with her, was very pleased with the team we have put together.
After a Bart ride back to Lafayette, Alejandra, Sandi and I had dinner at Mangia’s. Given the 2 hour time difference, the early start to her day and the plane ride, Alejandra did well to stay awake until we finally got her home to get some much needed sleep.
Thursday was rushed. We started out going up to Skyline but it was so foggy that there was no view. At least I showed her one of the turn out points where people normally enjoy looking out over Oakland and the Bay to San Francisco. (I didn’t mention the other activities that it is known for.) We then made a quick drive around Cal’s campus, drove along Telegraph where I told her of the hippies of the ‘60s – when I was there, but definitely not as a hippie – and then along University Ave. to the freeway and then our beautiful Bay Bridge where Ale took some photos. We drove through SF and made the obligatory crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge. By then the fog had let up enough so that she could actually see something. We then spent some time in Sausalito – though Ale is less a shopper than many – and then returned to Lafayette via San Pablo Dam Rd., both to avoid Hwy 80’s constant traffic and to see the scenery along the Dam road that we frequently enjoy on our bike rides.
In Lafayette we got Alejandra a sim card so her iphone is useable here and ATM cards for Ale and Sarah after we spent some time driving through some of the Lafayette hills.
Then to the Launch Party. Which was great.  Great because of the good food. Great because of the anonymous donor who sponsored what I had expected to be a no host bar.  Great because of all of those whose generosity is making our ride so meaningful and rewarding. And mostly great because of all of the good friends and supporters who joined us.
Thank you so much to all of you who have already made this adventure so rewarding.

Packing

Almost full before Sarah and Alejandra's luggage

Almost full before Sarah and Alejandra’s luggage

Bear enjoying my kits

Bear enjoying my kits

Packing for a 2 month trip takes a bit of planning and effort. On top of the nutrition – much of which was graciously donated by ClifBar – spare parts, extra tubes and cartridges, basic tools, multiple days of riding clothes for dry, wet and hot weather and personal clothes, Bear, a very black cat, decided to join us by cuddling up in one of the containers on my riding clothes. While I am sure he would be good company much of the time, I think we will probably leave him at home. However, I will undoubtedly sport a reminder of him – his black hair – when I wear the clothes he was lying on.

Utilizing all of our space

Utilizing all of our space

So, we are getting close. Nick and I spent some time packing the SAG wagon yesterday and hope that Alejandra and Sarah are more economical in their packing than we have been. Or we might have to have someone ride on the roof or something. Of course, we can say that only we are taking bikes, parts and riding clothes. On the other hand, how often does a man pack more than a woman? Given the lack of space, this better be one of those times. (Though we intend to make room for Sarah’s guitar.)

Above is another photo of the One, my bike that was previously featured as being broken, to show that it is now back in working order. That is a good thing because although I am fortunate to have an outstanding bike as a backup, the One is definitely my favorite.

The Repaired One

The Repaired One

More important than a repaired bike, however, is that Nick is steadily recovering from the extreme blood loss he suffered May 12 that had resulted in 2 days of hospitalization. Thanks to a couple of intravenous iron infusions, and to his determination, he is rounding back into form. He has one more transfusion scheduled, this one being more along the lines of some performance enhancing chemicals. I asked if I could join him for that “boost,” but I don’t think his physician is going to approve. So that will give me an excuse if I don’t keep up, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

We also want to thank all of you for your tremendous support. We haven’t yet started pedaling and already you have donated and pledged more than $16,000 (for various technical reasons, the total is greater than the amount posted on our web page). We greatly appreciate your generosity and hope that more of you who follow us will also chip in. Remember, all of your donations go to help those afflicted with breast cancer who are served by the Lazarex Cancer Foundation. That is truly a worthy cause.

We also want to offer congratulations to Mark Ballock and Terry Cunningham of Old Spokes who just finished their own cross-country ride as Cancer Busters.

Thanks, Rick & Nick

2 Bridges Redux

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Saturday was yet another day in paradise. The weather was beautiful, the company good – thanks Nick, Freddy, Greg C. and Joe – and the views from our bikes were great on our second “2 Bridges” ride in the past few months.
We started in Lafayette, headed toward Martinez, rode up Franklin Canyon, and up and over the Cummings Skyway into Crockett. It was a good thing I wasn’t last up to the top of that climb because the way I descend, I no doubt otherwise would have been a distant last into Crockett because unlike the others, I feel uncomfortable hitting 40+mph going down hill. There we enjoyed a rest/social stop at a café – thank you, Greg, for treating us to our drinks -before all of us except Joe (who is young enough to still have family obligations and had to head back home via the closest Bart Station after having started his ride in Castro Valley) headed on to the the Carquinez Bridge and its beautiful Bay views. After taking a photo op, that led us into Vallejo where we had an 18%+ climb – thankfully it was short – on our way to Benicia where we rode past a number of very impressive Victorians. The Benecia Bridge – which is way better by bike than by car – took us back into Martinez. We then returned to Lafayette via Reliez Valley Road which is always a bit of a challenge even though in your car you may not notice that it hits up to 10% grades. And, just to put the right touch on things, we finished the ride with another 18%+ climb, this one over Deer Hill with Freddy leading the charge (a charge I didn’t see first hand because I was too far in back of him and Greg at that stage).
Though Nick may get in another long ride before we leave for Los Angeles, that was my last ride over 30 miles until we head from Santa Monica to San Bernadino on June 14 on the first day of Laura’s Ride 2016. All 4 of us – Nick, Sarah, Alejandra and I – are getting excited with the start drawing so near.
We hope to see as many of you as possible at the June 9, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Launch Party at Renaissance ClubSport in Walnut Creek. Aside from the company of a number of bike riders, we are offering complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Although the bar is no host, there will be lots of free water!
Also, a special shout out to our 2 new Sponsors, Very Nice Pools of Lafayette (Paul and Annie Barendregt) and SPI Consulting Engineers, Inc. (fellow riders Sal Italiano and Kat Arber).

Wish Upon A Star And Some Miscellaneous Training

W flowers Sarah Nick & Rick

 

Last night we had the pleasure of watching Sarah play Maleficent – although she was malevolent, “Malevolence” wasn’t her name – in the musical “Wish Upon A Star.” (That required some dedication on my part because the Warriors were playing – AND WINNING – the Western Conference Championship game at the same time; thank goodness for DVRs.) The play is an amalgamation of a number of stories, most notably Peter Pan with what seemed to be a cast of hundreds. Since it was the season’s final performance, I can’t tell you to rush out and get tickets but you might keep it in mind next year around this time. It is put on by the Peter Pan Foundation and was at a theater at Diablo Valley College. Sydney Bagley (I apologize, Sydney, for getting your name wrong the first time), a daughter of one of our riding group, also appeared, playing a striking Cinderella (I said it was a combination of a number of stories; we also got a hunchback, a genie, and numerous other characters).
Sunday I rode with a small contingent of riders from the Echelon Riders Club of Marin County that I was invited to through Liz, who I met at the Wine Country Century. We started in Novato, made our way to Pt. Reyes, through Nicasio and up and down Lucas Valley Road. The scenery skirted the coast and took us through some redwoods. As bicycle riders – in fact, all of us – we are truly blessed to live where we do; the scenery and the weather are both generally beautiful. Nor did it hurt that one of our stops included a muffin from a bakery that is a favorite stopping point in Pt. Reyes for bicyclists and others.
According to my Garmin, we rode 56.6 miles, climbed 2,884 feet and averaged 15.5 mph. We started with 6 riders, but finished with 3. One turned off early, Dave – who I will mention again in a moment – left us after Nicasio to join a daughter for lunch and Alex bent a wheel when he hit what he and Liz described as a large rock while speeding down a descent that he had repeatedly warned me is dangerous. Thankfully, his wheel was the only casualty because he remained upright, though Liz, who was closely following him, wasn’t entirely sure how he managed.
Dave is worth mentioning again because he was both embarrassing and cause for hope. Embarrassing not because he was first up the harder climbs – someone has to be and it is seldom me. No, it was embarrassing because he is in his mid-70s so that he totally obliterated my “but I’m older” explanation when I finally reach the top.  On the other hand, he is cause of hope for the same reason: he is still killing the hills – and doing just fine otherwise, too – while in his mid-70s. So maybe I have some good years left after all. Thanks to all of the riders, including Scott, who made for a very enjoyable ride. And thank you to Liz for her friendliness and refreshing candor. I hope to see you at our Saturday ride and at Laura’s Ride 2016’s June 9 Launch Party.
With some medical assistance – nothing too rule breaking – Nick is recovering from the blood loss he suffered a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully he will be back to full strength before we get started. And hopefully this blasted cold I have will then be just a distant memory.

Colnago with Campagnolo/ Formigli with Shimano

Colnago C60                                                                                                         Colnago C40

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In what we hope is an overabundance of caution, Nick and I are both bringing 2 bicycles with us on Laura’s Ride 2016. The SAG vehicle accompanying us – to be driven by Team Members Sarah and Alejandra – will carry the spare bikes together with all of our gear & supplies.
Since we don’t have to burden our bikes with anything other than us – and occasionally headlights for early morning starts to avoid the worst heat of the day on longer rides when we trek through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – we are taking the bikes we regularly ride and they are light weight performance bikes, not heavier, presumably more comfortable, touring bikes. (Please note that I used “performance” to describe our bikes, not us.)
Nick’s current ride of choice is a Colnago C 60 with Campagnolo Super Record EPS (electronic shifting) and hybrid hydraulic/cable disc brakes. His support bike is a Colnago C 40, also with Campy’s Super Record, but mechanical shifters and caliper brakes.
My primary bike will be my Formigli One, a custom made Italian bike. Maybe because I’m not Italian, I chose to pair it with Shimano’s DurAce Di2 with fully hydraulic disc brakes. My second bike is also a Formigli, also made to my measurements, the Genesi. It also has Shimano’s DuraAce Di2 but with traditional caliper brakes. I purchased the One because I loved the Genesi and as much as I like that, I like the One even better. That it gets a lot of unsolicited compliments out on the road doesn’t hurt, either!
Until very recently, Nick had been riding standard 53/39 crankset with a 11-27 cassette but has now gone to a 52/36 with the same cassette despite me telling him he should try the 50/34. (Though I think he is putting the 50/34 on the C 40 as a concession to his actual age.) Although I am way younger than Nick – 6 months or so – I don’t turn as big a gear as he has; both of my bikes use 50/34 cranksets with 11 – 28 cassettes. As a sign of my good judgment – which is contradicted by the fact I am making this ride – I have long known that my knees no longer need to be pushing 53/39 gears.
Above is a photo of my “Broken” One after an unfortunate encounter with what will be our SAG vehicle, my Suburban (it is only under duress that I admit that I was the driver). I was undeservedly lucky that the Deda M 35 handlebars and right brake lever were the only casualties of my dumbness. Because neither is currently available from their manufacturer, I had to spend a good portion of a day, not to mention a chunk of my wallet, locating replacement parts. Keep your fingers crossed with me that they make it in time!

Formigli One                                                                                                      Formigli Genesi

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