Monday, May 24, 2010

May 2010 - Tour of California

Stage 6, Palmdale to Big Bear - the Queen Stage of this years tour. Chris and I got an early start and arrived in Big Bear around 8:45, no traffic either. At 9:30 we were on our bikes riding the race course backwards towards Lake Arrowhead.

A few phrases were said many times on this ride, and they just about sum it up - "This doesn't suck", "Not a bad seat in the house" and "Are you feeling the altitude too?" We live around 600-900 ft above sea level. All of this riding was up around 7000 ft.

32 miles later we were down in Lake Arrowhead. Time to climb 32 miles back to Big Bear before the race comes into town. On the way back we stopped at a small market and ran into cycling scientist/fitness guru Allen Lim. He was very nice, stopping for about 10 minutes to chat with us.

The party at the finish line was awesome. Lot's of people showed up. Thousands I'm sure. We watched most of the race on a jumbo-tron, and saw the leaders sprint to a finish live.

Finally, the Tour of California, in its 5th year has a stage right in our backyard. On roads and hills I ride several times a week. Matt and I rode to the top of the Rockstore climb where Herbalife offered to measure our BMI and give us access to their "oh so posh, private, best seat in the house" party. It really was the best seat in the house too - complete with wraps, fruit, sushi and healthy shakes. We watched the peleton come up to the top for 2 of the 4 laps from this awesome vantage point.

Then we got on our bikes and rode over to the decent on Decker. We lucked out here too and found a great perch to watch the riders negotiate an off camber turn. Once the riders came through we rode to the finish line and watched the riders come in. Surely, a great day of racing and a great day for fans. I know we had a great time.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Why not now?

Living The Dream is what it says on the sign on the back of Ward's bike. They've spent the last 2 years riding around the world and will finish next spring (2010). Ward says, "Yeah, gotta go back to work". Ward and Jackie are a smart, warm couple that somehow, seem to have the important things in life, in focus. "Living the dream" may be their motto, but the operative word here is 'living'. They're do-ers. Interested in exploring the world and learning from other cultures.

I've been doing some homework of my own this summer. In early August we took a family trip to London and was swept up by the excitement of being in a cosmopolitan city (like NY) and all the culture it has to offer. Then we went to the countryside and I couldn't figure out why I was drawn to just sit or walk, and spend time in a small, out of the way town. I now have a better idea about why I was so effected by both.

Prior to that I've been accessing my own 'life deferment plan (LDF)'. You're familiar with LDF - we all have one. Sometimes better known as - 'I'll get to that project when..." or "if I just had some extra time I could ..." We all do it. And here I was speaking with Ward and Jackie and realizing I was seeing an honest, truthful, non-LDF right before my eyes.

Doing this ride, or any other event or milestone for that matter, is a 'part' of the dream. But living, and experiencing, every day is what I think it's all about. This became the overwhelming theme for me every day of this ride. And I hope, every day from here on. Why not now?

I need to thank our great crew for this ride. Not only were they always there with a bottle of water, but they are inspirational too. Sergio, now a runners coach, has won the San Francisco Marathon as well as other races. His PR is 2:11. World class!! Guillermo has made great strides in his running career most recently setting a personal best at the London Marathon. He aspires to times under 2:30 and a shot at the Mexican Olympic team. Sandra, Bernd's wife, not only offered feminine balance to the trip, but is an accomplished lawyer and runner as well. Her next marathon will be the 2010 Boston Marathon, which she has run before. Bernd posses just about everything you would want in a riding partner - experience, preparedness and a smart, steady pace. His friendship and support on the ride was invaluable. Lastly, thanks to my family and colleagues for giving me the confidence to be away and know that all will be well when I return.

You may have noticed a website at the bottom of my custom jersey for this ride - Ned Mann is a 20+ year friend and brilliant musician who was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrigs Disease) about 9 years ago. The courage it takes to get on the bike pales by comparison to the courage Ned musters every day. It was nice to have him along in spirit on this ride. I encourage you to visit his website. You'll hear great music, read some funny stories and see some cool pics and videos. He'd love to hear from you too.

For those of you into the technical specs of the ride:
6 days
652 miles (108 miles/day avg.)
36,000 ft. elevation gain (6,000 ft./day avg.)
According to Bernd's computer, we burned about 43,000 calories.

I lost no weight on this ride. And had no flats. I was surprised how much of the route I have memorized. We always met interesting people. I was never bored or wished for the riding to end. I laughed the hardest when Mark joined us.

I did this same 6 day ride 2 years ago. Last year, I rode cross country (North to South, 2000 miles in 19 days). I remember, very well, how I felt 2 years ago after each days ride. This was entirely different for me. I felt good & strong the entire time. Something must be working right.

Thanks so much for tuning in. I wish you all the best -

Ward and Jackie -
Ned Mann -
Bernd -
Joel -

Day 6 - Solvang to Malibu (Home)

Bernd and I at the top of San Marcos Pass, the highest point of the six days.

Malibu (Cross Creek) just a few more miles and I'm home.

What?!?! Doping control at my house?

Day 5 - Cambria to Solvang

Ballard Canyon - almost to Solvang. This route is on the Tour of California (Time Trial). Many of the roads we took are also on the tour.

Foxen Canyon

Foxen Canyon

Somewhere after lunch in Guadalupe. We had great tailwinds here and rode mostly at 30MPH.

One of the great mottos of this trip (for me) - Why Not Now. Is this a sign?

Bernd looking like a cycling star.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 4 - Carmel to Cambria (via Big Sur)

Big Sur is an experience. I wonder how to take pictures of an experience. Certainly, this is one of the most beautiful and serene places you could ever visit. Spend a few days in Big Sur, and something about you will probably change. Last time I did this ride, I said it was the best day I ever had on a bicycle. I would only add that some of my best days, on the bike or off, are when I'm physically or mentally, at Big Sur.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 3 - Half Moon Bay - Carmel by the Sea

Stage Road - just off and parallel to PCH.


Back on the coast, just north of Santa Cruz.

Endless farming... south of Santa Cruz.

The sign here read: Do not feed the vicious sea lions! They were awesome, loud and plentiful... and fun to watch.

I love Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. We had a great ride around the area finishing with a ride on 17 mile drive passing the Pebble Beach golf course and the Lone Cypress.

Day 2 - Bodega Bay - Half Moon Bay

Mark Gunther was my roommate last year on the cross country ride. Mark lives in San Francisco and guided us on a fabulous ride from Bodega Bay to Half Moon Bay via Stinson Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge and Devil's Slide.

Bernd & Mark.

Me at the start in Bodega Bay showing off our custom cycling jerseys.

Stinson Beach as we climb over the Pacific shoulder of Mt. Tam (where Mountain Biking was born).

Still climbing ;)

Riding through Sausalito.

The Golden Gate Bridge, view from Fort Baker.

The dynamic duo.

Day 1 - Living The Dream

I'll explain the title of this when I get a chance to write a bit. But in short - we met 2 people on the first day that have inspired me in several ways. More to come...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's Happening

On a self supported ride, there's much to do. I'm just not finding the time right now to write, what I want to write. So... I will post pictures of each day and then write something later. Thanks for understanding, and I hope you'll keep checking in.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 0 - Drive to Fort Bragg

Two years ago I rode my bicycle down the California coast, solo. My friend John Anderson was kind enough to drive my car, and my stuff, from hotel to hotel and join me for dinner as well. We had a great time.

It was the first long distance (650 miles), multi-day (6 days) cycling trip I ever did. Last year I was fortunate to ride my bicycle from the Canadian border, to El Paso, Texas, on the Mexican border (2000 miles/19 days). It was something I always wanted to do and I'm very proud of that accomplishment.

This year I had no set plan or goal, but thought it would be nice to repeat the Cali Coast ride with a friend. Enter, Bernd Straehle. When I was researching various California rides I came across Bernds' website and sent him an email. [Bernd has one of the best sites on long distance California cycling -] Since then we've ridden together a few times and found that we're compatible riders. When I mentioned this ride, I was very happy to hear that Bernd was interested.

Bernds' wife, Sandra, is a runner and a cyclist, but seems to be running more. Specifically marathons, like the Boston Marathon (for instance). Sandra, graciously agreed to drive support for us and brought along 2 of her marathon friends from Mexico - Guillermo y Sergio. Guillermo just completed the London marathon (in 2:50!!!) and Sergio has won (as in First Place) the San Francisco Marathon (in 1992) amongst others.

Bernd et al, picked me up at 7am. We drove through a very smokey San Fernando valley and proceeded on to the 5 North. Passed San Francisco and stopped for lunch. We were making good time, so we decided to take the scenic route over to the coast via route 128 and the Navarro Forest of Redwoods. We had a great time horsing around in these amazingly tall trees. The ground was covered in ferns and clovers. Really beautiful.

Tomorrow is our first day on the bike. Weather is cold up here (50's and 60's) and damp, lot's of marine layer. I'll try to update this blog after each days ride. Click on the pics to see larger versions. If you want to read about my last Cali Coast trip, or my cross country ride from last summer, it's all available on this blog.

Cheers :)