Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Checking out Wednesday's route

Don and I drove out this morning to check  the starting and meeting points for Wesnesday's ride. 

Turns out there was a car wash right next to the start and the SAG wagon was in dire need of a bath. So Don took it over and when they heard what we were doing, they gave us a huge discount. Big Daddy's #10 rocks!

From there Don drove to Irvine to pick up two high end rental bikes. They are superb. 

I rode down the course and it was beautiful but lots of traffic and disappearing bike lanes. We will need to be extra careful tomorrow. 

I'll add photos later.  

By the way, live tracking from Garmin works great! I got several panicked calls and messages from concerned trackers fearing I got my days mixed up!

Cheers, Dave

Sunday, March 29, 2015

More on Oxnard to San Pedro

Stan Steinberg, the founder of the heart foundation at Cedars Sinai joined us on the first 10 miles of our ride. He looked great sporting a HAA jersey while riding a pretty slick recumbent bicycle. Stan  had an aortic valve replacement just  8 weeks ago!

Next we  somehow managed to fly right by Andrea who had parked along the beach with snacks. Fortunately she spotted us and chased us down.

Later in the day we met Aiden (sp?) and a few of his friends cycling along the PCH. It was nice getting a free draft and talking about our lives as we dodged surfboards, cars, open car doors, dogs,  skate boards, and pedestrians. Sean's message rang true with Aiden and he shared his admiration for Sean's drive.

Finally we reached the Will Rogers park along the beach. It was great to see the van and hear the little cowbell ringing. We ate well and soon were joined by my college freshman roommate Gary Wimenitz and his wife Sarah. What a treat to see them again and it was nice to catch up on our lives.

Next Aiden swung by to meet Sean and wish us all well. It's always so neat to connect with someone  like this.

As we were getting ready to roll out Gary pointed out Gordon Ramsay who had just come out of the water. The camera crew went over and next thing we knew, he was over at our van greeting Sean. He asked if we needed a cook and we all clamored yes!

But alas, before we could work out a contract, it was time to roll, and thanks to Gary and Sarah, I could relax and just follow. Relax of course being a relative term as it was tough keeping up with them as they navigated through droves of pedestrians  and cyclists.

Along the way, Sean's Passoni bike did it's civil duty by picking up an errant plastic bag. It took a minute or two to unravel it but we successfully got it it off and  promptly put the bag in a sealed garbage can.


The surprise of the day came along a residential neighborhood when Gary and I were chasing each other up a hill. Lo and behold, there was my nephew  Chris Helminiak and his girlfriend Donna!

We agreed to meet at Starbucks (the one with a magnificent view) and when we arrived they showed us a big poster they had made and treated us all to some excellent coffee.  What a treat!

From there we rode to our hotel. The weather was cooling by then  and traffic was dwindling so no complaints there. Only spectacular, splendid views.

Our ride was followed by a quick dip or two in an unheated quite cold pool followed by a hot tub immersion. What a nice combo.

At 6 pm we headed out to a BBQ at photographer Mickey's son's house.  What a lovely couple! Great food, company, and lots of entertainment!

Thank you thank you thank you.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 6: SLO to Oxnard

The started off wonderfully well. Our earliest start yet (8:17 am) so Sean was pleased. We were looking forward to meeting Brian and a few of his cycling friends about midway into our ride.

We started off on Hwy 101 and it was not too bad. We had some fog cover and it gave the ride an eerie feeling. Sean called it "spooky". There was a  chill in the air and Don reminded us that once the sun breaks through we will be longing for this chill. So I savored it even though I was a bit cold.

As we climbed and descended gentle rollers, the poetry of cycling took heart in me. My heart was pumping steadily and I could feel it warming my arms and legs. We had a nice sea breeze that was refreshingly cool, beautiful scenery on both sides and when the tail winds kicked in, it felt like the pavement was just rolling under my tire and that everything was just passing by me as if I were watching a movie. It was quite the movie and I was definitely in the here and now.I think all cyclists experience  this and why so many of us love riding.

The euphoric feeling faded a bit as the miles stretched on and soon I was longing for the exit. Too many narrow bridges, retread tire portions on the road, and debris. It was a welcome site when we saw Brian. Andrea had also parked the van up the road a bit and we were greeted not just by a couple of cycling friends, but by 10-20 riders. It felt like 100! They were all welcoming and we spent a few minutes chatting before riding on.

Their knowledge of the area was very helpful and they modified our route and took us on some beautiful scenic rides. I thought the most comical event occurred when one of the riders asked if anyone needed a bio-break. This is always welcome, so I said yes. We promptly turned down a street and up the driveway of a private residence. "Wow, I expected a public facility at best, not your house" I said. He smiled and told me it wasn't his house, but one of the other riders! It turns out the other rider was his brother. It just goes though to show you how nice people are.

Our lunch break was great and we offered Brian a jersey as a token of appreciation. We got some good photos of him sporting it. LB, a woman rider in the group purchased one for herself and promised to wear it on her next double century.

The rest of the ride was good for Jose, Derek, Don and Sean but I started to feel the fatigue of being  navigator and always looking out for the next turn. It wears on you mentally.

Here are some shots from the afternoon:

But all in all, we made it safely. We had two mechanical issues...Sean's water bottle cage cracked and we had to tighten it down. Nothing like having  a bottle fly out and take out a rider or get caught in your spokes.  Then two miles from the hotel we heard a bang then Don said he thought he had a flat. But we rode on a few feet and what we saw was more a wobble. Sure enough, he popped a drive train spoke. Fortunately we were close and he was able to nurse the bike along the way.

When we pulled up to our hotel, I took a deep breath and was more than happy to get off my saddle,.

Now I need to work on tomorrow's route...The good news is my freshman college roommate, Gary Wimenitz, will be meeting us along the way and guiding us into Los Angeles.

Hasta tomorrow!


Good service, coffee and food!

It's Saturday already?

Time is flying.  Hard to believe it's Saturday already. We had a great meal last night at Andersen's Pea soup restaurant. We are all fueled up now. 

We had to leave from the emergency exit due to a bomb scare in the front parking lot.  They found a red backpack with wires coming out. Probably was one of our camera man's bags. 

I 'm feeling good this morning. Last night I was exhausted and hit the sack before 9! 

 Today we ride to Ventura and we will be met along the way by local cyclist Brian Knowles and some of his friends. I'm looking forward to this. 

 We hope to be on our way by 8:15.  

Cheers, Dave


Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 5 SLO to Buelton

Well another day in the books.

We started with a hearty breakfast at Margie's Diner. We suspect Margie must be  a Vegan triathlete and servers huge portions of food to keep the competition at bay. I've never seen so much food piled on a plate. It was good though and did the trick for today.

We started with an 8:15 am TV/Radio interview with a local station. It will be airing tonight at 5pm in both SLO and Buelton (channel 6,  I believe). The interviewer was very caring and impressed by Sean and his motivation. For a small local station, I think he asked some of the best questions.

As far as the ride went, we all expected the worst knowing we had 70 miles through traffic and a good 10 plus miles on Hwy 101. The commuter guys (Jose, Derek, and me) showed our colors by sporting all kinds of flashing lights. It turned out that the ride was much much better than we feared. Great tail winds and a nice wide shoulder on the freeway.

We stopped for a quick bio-break in Pismo beach then worked our way along Hwy 1 then up through Santa Maria where we stopped for sandwiches in a nice shady spot that Andrea found. We all ate well and it was nice to look out and spot Sean dozing in a grassy patch by the van. Always good to get some weight off  your legs!

The next 30 miles went by very quickly. It's not often you can ride 30+ miles an hour and not feel any wind!

Here's a screen shot from some of the video shot from Don.  Wait, where are his hands? We're moving fast!!!

And now I see that it was so hot that the signs and road are melting!

 Spotting our hotel continues to be the highlight of each day. Riding is great but you realize how hot and tired you are when you see your beckoning hotel!

At the hotel, we said our goodbyes to Suzy and Karen. Both had a great time and it was speical sharing the experience with them. Karen described the ride as epic!

I just finished laundry and clothes are hanging to dry. But as I glance at my water bottle with Hammer Heed in it,  next to a water bottle containing Woolite, I realize that using a water bottle to store my laundry detergent might not have been such a great idea....

Time to head downstairs and see if we can catch Sean on the news!


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 4 Ragged Point to SLO

Today began for me at 4:00 am. This was about the only time of the day where internet traffic was low enough to allow me to modify our route to San Luis Obispo. I had not planned to get up this early, but the refrigerator in my room woke me up and I decided, why not..?

With feedback from those who rode the route yesterday as they dropped off Dedi, Randy, and Lee (a sad time for all of us), and taking advice from our friendly waiter to work in Turri road, I went to work. The results paid handsomely.

Our biggest concern was the heat along our route (highs in the mid 80s) and we wanted an early 8 am start. But we also wanted a hearty breakfast and restaurant did not open until 8:30. It was 9:10 before we hit the road.

The camera crew wanted to attach a ~2 foot pole to Sean's bike to create some great shots in the early morning light but with the strong winds and tricky descent I vetoed that and proposed  they attach it after lunch when we would be doing more uphill work. There were no objections. I hope the afternoon shots worked out. The early morning portion of the ride was beautiful. We also got to see elephant seals basking in the sun. What a life. And no sunscreen required!

Don and I took turns with our wrist mounted GoPro and Don sure demonstrated a steady hand. I think we got some great video. Here are some screen shots...

There was one sketchy part on our ride where we had to deal cars entering the highway as we exited, but we were clear with our signaling and made the exit gracefully.

As we rode up South Bay Boulevard towards Turri road I saw a good climb and hollered out to Derek "here's your hill" . He seems to like powering up short steep climbs. He took the bait and Karen followed. It was quite the site to see them fly up the hill right past the Turri road turn.  I guess that wasn't the hill. I got a good laugh out of that one...

Turri road was great with almost no traffic. And it had a nice climb which not surprisingly Derek attacked. He flew by a couple riding up the hill and from the distance we watched one of the riders try to catch Derek. No chance. Feeling a the urge, I too then took the bait and opened up the legs. It felt good.

As we approached SLO we saw a cyclist riding towards us. This was Tom  Robak who we had met last night at Ragged point. He lives in SLO, had parked his car at our hotel and had ridden out to help guide us in. He was shocked at how close we were. We can thank the tail wind for that.

As we rode with Tom, he invited us to his home for some wine and cheese. We gladly accepted and agreed to swing by at 5 pm. As we pulled into our hotel, we looked at our watches and were pleasantly surprised to see it was only a bit past 1 pm. Wow! We did fly and we had time to get some R&R before heading over.

R&R consisted of jumping in an ice cold pool then feasting on chicken burritos that Andrea purchased for us. They were the best. Derek did point out that hunger makes a great sauce!
Did I get that right?

Before we knew it, 5pm was approaching fast so we headed up to visit Tom and his wife  Charlotte. Their home was spectacular and his hospitality matched it!

We had a great visit  and enjoyed our time with them very much. It's so great to run into people like Tom and Charlotte that stop what they are doing and reach out to help a bunch of tired cyclists!
Spectacular views!
 What a day!

But it's late now, I am exhausted and have yet to pack up for tomorrow

Tomorrow will be another hot day and one where we will experience riding on Hwy 101 for extended times. A good day to bring out the flashing helmet lights and it's good for Sean to get this experience while riding with other cyclists...we are still 7 strong.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Carmel to Ragged Point

Today's ride had me a bit worried. 74 miles with 7,140 feet of climbing and 6,800 feet of steep descent. But all in all in turned out to be a spectacular day for all. Best day so far.

We started off with a heart healthy breakfast in Don and Andreas cottage and some excellent espresso thanks to Sean Maloney and his fabulous Nespresso machine.

We then talked about safety. 2 cyclists die in the USA every day due to cycling accidents. Considering that most riders only ride 1-2 hours a week, the fact that we are out riding 8+ hours a day, puts us at risk. We  reviewed best practices and talked about clear communication. It paid off.

Now sorely missing John who headed back last night but welcoming Jose, who will ride with us to San Diego,  we all rode off  together at  8:15. We rode at a very comfortable pace. The 18 mph tail wind did not hurt either. In fact it got us to our first SAG wagon meeting point at 25 miles about 15 minutes ahead of the SAG wagon. But no one complained. We found a nice spot with good coffee and the film crew that made it there shortly after us had water. Just as we were getting ready to leave, the SAG wagon pulled up and we were thrilled. We filled our pockets with snacks and topped our water off with electrolytes and headed off.

The next 25 miles were sweet. Lots of climbing and sometimes a difficult time negotiating the 6" bike lane that disappeared at bridges and cliff overhangs but the scenery made up for it. Just as the hunger and bonk pangs started to sound we spotted the SAG wagon and were treated to great sandwiches and salty potato chips thanks to Dedi and Andrea's shopping trip to Safeway.

I don't think I've ever had a better sandwich. Of course  thousands of feet of climbing and beautiful scenery makes everything look good. But it was a good sandwich!

After lunch we continued our journey and the scenery was unbelievable. We kept a moderate pace and even when the wind shifted to a head wind we simply enjoyed the cooling breeze.

Highlights included watching Derek fly by us on a big uphill, carrying momentum from a previous descent. It left a few of us dumbfounded. Derek is a big guy but climbs like an antelope!

Randy had his fun on climb or two, and Don and I both enjoyed a few flying descents.

What else...?...

Let's see, Lee Cannon took over as bike photographer. It was a nice break for me, and Lee did a great job. Some of his photos are included below.

We arrived at our hotel around 3pm which is about as good as it gets. We all met at 5:30 for some of the classic Best Energy Electrolyte Replacement System and then had dinner at 7:00. It was a great meal with lots of laughter, emotion, and camaraderie.  Andrea, who was navigating the SAG vehicle and passed us after lunch commented on how great it was to see the 7 of us riding together so cohesively in a straight line.

The evening ended with Derek inviting us to join him for a last beer. Jose blindly said yes but the rest of us passed on the opportunity despite Derek pleading, you "Can't just leave a Mexican and a Paddy alone drinking a beer!" We were all in stitches. I hope Jose survives the evening.

So here we are. We had a big day with great sights and no mishaps. Sean did great. Held his line the whole way and did a reasonably good job of staying hydrated.

So enough rambling...here are some photos that capture some of the day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

safe and sound in Carmel

Another great day of riding.

We started the day with a hearty breakfast and some good coffee and were able to hold Sean off until 9:15 before heading out. He was set on a 8 am departure! We were also treated to the sight of a whale breaching near shore. So neat to see.

We took off with a big cheer and the ride was spectacular. Sunny skies and the winds were between neutral and favorable!

Only mishap happened when Tom fell off his bike trying to avoid glass at low speed. Fortunately no real injury...just surface wounds. But road rash is never fun.

Here's a shot of Sean and Dedi as we approach Monterey. We were all laughing  after Sean tried his first Espresso Gu packet and was just roaring to go!

Tomorrow's ride will be one of our toughest. Tom is icing his knee so it's not clear yet whether he will need a day of rest or not. My advice would be to take the day off but who knows what he'll decide. Dedi is also feeling some knee and foot pain. Back to back days of riding pays a toll.

Sean is riding strong and smartly wanted nothing to do with the 17 mile drive detour a few of our riders opted to take.  4880 miles to go so let's play it safe!

Todd led the way for a few minutes while I played sweeper, and he promptly added a bonus out and back climb. ...and yes there were grumbles from the peanut gallery. So glad I was not the culprit this time!

We will soon head out for some good Mexican food. I'm ready!

Goodbye JoeBlow

You've served me well. But it's time for you to move on. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day was a complete success

I think luck was on our side but in addition  the hard work by those working behind the scenes set the framework for success.

Sean gave a very energetic start of the day with a speech at the Intel Museum. He ended with a very enthusiastic call of "Let's ride!"

We rode off with about 100 riders and despite the varying ability of the cyclists as well as a mix of road bikes, mountain bikes, TT bikes, and  bikes towing trailers,  and somewhat wet roads, to my knowledge no accidents occurred. Ahmad did a great job policing  riders that gave even the slightest hint of being a hazard.

Palo Alto greeted us with a huge welcome. There were booths set up everywhere, great food and beverages. I couldn't find any coffee but Ahmad showed up and shared his cup with me. Not sure where he got the coffee but it's the best I've ever had. Even better was seeing friends and family showing up from all over.

The ride to HP was splendid with police escorts. So nice to own the road!

At this point we swapped Sean's nice Passoni bike for his trusted Trek just to make sure he can get used to the new bike before putting major miles on it. He seemed disappointed but agreed to play it safe.

I expected the worse for the next segment but it actually worked out great. Everyone took Old La Honda at their own pace and seemed to enjoy it. I heard rumors that Tom reached the top thinking he was only half way up. He was so elated when he found out he was at the summit that he ran around in circles giving high 5's to all who ventured to raise their hands. I think he only dislocated the shoulders of two of the unsuspecting climbers!

The ride down 84 was a bit cold and drizzly. Sean was shivering at one point and he gladly accepted the light windbreaker I offered him. Worked for me. One less thing in my pockets!

We stopped in San Gregorio and it was great to see so many Heart Across America riders, many sporting their jerseys. We took a short break, rehydrated and then it was, "Where's Sean?"  "Oh he just took off"  I was told. So the chase began! Fortunately he wasn't too far ahead and we all rode together along Highway 1.

At this point, the sun started to shine through the dispersing clouds and the wind changed to a lovely NW. Everyone felt like a super hero. We were cruising at 20+ MPH with minimal effort. The hills though were still there and I will admit the last climb had me thinking about getting to the hotel!

Davenport finally showed up and we arrived a bit before 5 pm. Not bad considering the late start. By 6:15 pm  we were all showered and ready for food and drink. We worked out tomorrow's schedule...departing at 9:00 am. Sean wanted 7:30 am but in addition to a threatened mutiny, morning logistics just didn't work for the early start. This will give us more time to get everything in its place and make sure nothing is left behind.

Today's missing items included, a helmet, 2 water bottles at the start, two water bottles at San Gregorio, sunglasses, arm warmers, gloves, street shoes, and a new floor pump.. Andrea recovered the water bottles from San Gregorio and teamwork sharing took care of the rest. Not bad for a day 1. And no, all missing items were not from one person!

The surprise of the day came from Bruce Hollibaugh owner of Concept Cyclery bikes in Morgan Hill. He spotted us using my 10 year old duct taped and zip chord tied pump and drove all the way to Morgan Hill and back to Davenport to deliver two brand new pumps! The sad news is that Don and Dedi made me promise to toss the old pump to make room in the van. I liked that pump. (note the use of the past tense).

So tomorrow now awaits us. The grill next door opens at 6:30 am and we don't leave until 9. This also gives John time to get up here from Santa Cruz to join us. Somehow John's room in Davenport got lost and he ended up having to stay in Santa Cruz. I'm probably guilty and that's ok....things worked out  in the end.