Monday, July 30, 2012

Day off ...

San Francisco, CA
Staying at St. John's Armenian Apostolic Church

Today was a great relaxing day walking the San Francisco hills. However, I think maybe I would rather bike than walk. At least I stay with the same muscle groups. I’m finally learning how to use my smart phone to map out places I want to find and get directions to, driving, walking or public transportation--there’s hope for me yet!

So this morning a group of us biked, or took the bus to a bike store. I needed a new tire for a spare, some extra CO 2 cartridges, a couple of tubes, and some Stinger Waffles. This better hold me for the final two weeks of this adventure. 

***After shopping we found a nice place for some really good hamburgers, followed by, of course, a chocolate malt. It was kind of an old fashioned place, so I was expecting a really good malt, but only rated it a 6. Good flavor, good presentation, excellent atmosphere, but no thickness at all.

The afternoon we spent walking around Fisherman’s Wharf, which was a big disappointment because I saw nothing but a huge tourist trap, very crowded, of course, with tourists! Not my favorite environment. I’m sure I will appreciate the solitude of the road the next couple days. Glad we went down there, but very glad to leave the area for dinner at a place Turbo knew about.

We returned to the old fashioned ice cream place after dinner, because Chris and Turbo wanted chocolate malts made the old fashioned way. I tasted their malts and did not like them, so I ordered a root beer float because I didn’t want another mediocre malt. Watching "Dillon" make my float from scratch was very interesting. He started by using plain seltzer water, added the ice cream, added the root beer extract, added some other stuff, then put a toasted marshmallow on top. Quite an undertaking, but very good, along with the added entertainment of watching him prepare the drink. My dad was a "soda jerk" as a youngster, and used to sneak ice cream to his future wife. I wish I could ask him how he made the malts and floats back around 1930 or so when he was behind the counter.

We are losing two riders tomorrow: Hannah and Pete are leaving. Both are super great people who will be missed. But we are gaining two new riders: another Chris, and Dean. Looking forward to getting to know the new guys.

Tomorrow it’s back on the bike again for about 80 miles, and I’m hoping I can improve my mental toughness so I can enjoy the ride. Another five days of riding before we get another day off in Santa Barbara, CA next Sunday. Looks like we will have a century ride on Thursday.

Peace ...

Day 13 (of 22) riding ...

Santa Rosa, CA to San Francisco, CA
Staying at St. John's Armenian Apostolic Church
71.1 miles today, average pace 11.5 mph
Total ascent 3,675 feet (grades up to 12%)
San Francisco ... and the Golden Gate Bridge! 

My good buddy Sarah D and I were sweeping today, and she pretty much had to carry me most of the way. I don’t usually let myself get mentally down on these adventures, but today, for most of the day, I found myself wondering what I was doing out here on my bike, mile after mile, up and down these hills, bouncing over potholes, trying to keep from getting run over on some of these narrow or non-existent shoulders, all the time wondering how far behind I was letting us get. All the hills looked the same today, like I had already done the current hill just a few miles back. I kept wondering if we would ever get to the church.  A little good news for today, my knee was doing ok, and I was still able to get up out of my saddle to climb some of the hills.

Another good buddy, Chris C, is always looking out for me by chalking places for me to stop for chocolate malts. Unfortunately this one was too far from the church and I was way too far behind to be able to stop. Ya gotta love helpers like Chris!

Years ago when I was still a runner (jogger to tell the truth), and I was in San Francisco on a business trip, I looked out my hotel room at the Golden Gate Bridge and decided to lace up the running shoes, run to the bridge, and run across. Unfortunately, the bridge looked a lot closer than it actually was, considering all the distance added by going up and down all the hills, plus the difficulty of going up and down those hills. Well as I recall, I made it over and even back, but that was all I was good for. I had nothing left in my tank, and had to figure out how to get back to my hotel on the bus. These are some tough hills.
I’m not sure what’s on the agenda tomorrow for our day off. My chore group is getting up early to get laundry done, and then we have the rest of the day for doing whatever we choose. We tried to do the laundry tonight, but couldn’t find a large enough facility to handle all our clothes at one time. We changed chore groups today, so I’m not on the early breakfast chore any more (I’m not sad about that!). Jenn is my excellent chore group leader, and she helps me remember what I should be doing. 

Everyone enjoyed another great meal tonight, provided by yet another great congregation.
Peace ...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 12 (of 22) riding ...

Ukiah, CA to Santa Rosa, CA
Staying at Santa Rosa Bible Church
66.9 miles today, average pace 14.3 mph
Total ascent 1,335 feet (the few grades mostly 3% to 6%)

It's all about Carmen … this beautiful child of God has very quickly become a bike rider. She didn’t start out that way on the East Coast, but today she smoked the ride. She wanted to ride with Sarah D who was going to be riding with me (after Sarah D stood me up big time yesterday), so we all took off together. A number of riders missed one of the first turns, and I found myself leading the ride. We got to the next turn, I asked somebody to chalk it, and kept going. They let me lead for a while because I had picked it up a little, and then Carmen came up to me like she was going to pass me. I teased her about thinking she could pass me and picked up the speed considerably, leaving her calling to me not to go so fast, that she couldn’t go that fast. So, after putting some distance between us, I gradually slowed down and let her catch up.

Some of the other riders were in front of us a ways, even out of sight, and this time I increased my speed very slowly, telling Carmen to just keep up, pointed to my rear tire indicating that she should draft me, which she understood because I have been teaching her that for weeks. So the miles went by, and I was still slowly increasing my speed. When I looked in my mirror, low and behold, there she was, close or still drafting. Three of the faster riders were now in sight up ahead, riding three across, blocking our lane. A few more miles and we were now behind them and I hollered load enough for them and Carmen to “pick it up or move out of the way because there are some serious riders behind you, wanting to pass." One rider dropped back a little, so there were only two riders in front of us. I slowed down a little to draft on them at their speed, which was still a faster pace than Carmen had been used to. After a little while and a few more miles, I asked Carmen if she was ready to rock, and I immediately got an enthusiastic ‘yes’ response, so I called out "passing right" to let them know we were passing and I took off back up to the pace we had been going, and guess who was still in my mirror? Yep, none other than Carmen.

Except for downhill, the fastest pace Carmen had previously gone is 14 mph. I had told her earlier at the 10 mile point, that she had just gone 10 miles at 16 mph, and she was excited about that. Now I was setting a faster pace, and she was staying in my mirror, even when I was hitting 20 mph. The only time she fell back was when we would hit a hill that was a little longer, or had a grade greater than about 2%. Once over the hill she caught right back up. So we passed the 20 mile point, and I told her she had just done the last 10 miles at 16.9 mph. Then I decided to find out what she could really do, so I upped the speed a little more, staying close to 19 and 20 mph, and she continued in my mirror. The next 5 miles had some longer uphill grades, and she was falling behind a little, but tried to stay with me. I finally lost her from my mirror because of a couple longer inclines, but she arrived at the van stop doing the last 5 miles at 19.8 mph. All in all, a very impressive achievement for this young lady.

We had a quick van stop to refresh, and I was ready to get going. Turbo Tom took off with Carmen behind him, followed by Sarah, then me. After all the fuss at the van over Carmen and how she was smoking the ride, that was the last I saw of Carmen riding for the rest of the day. Sarah and I rode the remainder of the day together, enjoying a more leisurely pace, all the while wondering if Carmen had kept up with Turbo. We arrived at the next (and last) van stop and Carmen had already left.

The second section today found us riding with a triathlon that was in the biking part of the event, a couple times along our route. The first time we joined them as they were passing their aid station, and even though we told them we were not part of the race, they said it didn't matter, that we could help ourselves anyway. So Sarah grabbed a Clif Bar as she rode by, and I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade. We were with them less than a mile both times. My knees were doing much better, and they needed to be better for the last couple of miles to the church. We hit some short but tough hills before finally getting to the church. I was even able to get up out of my saddle to pump up the hills.

When I got to the church, Carmen was outside waiting for me, hollering, "I beat you to the church, I beat you." I gave her a big hug, and told her how awesome she was! She very enthusiastically told Sarah and then all the other riders as they came in all about her day.

It was a beautiful day for riding. No jacket needed this morning, just my vest, and then later no vest. Just sunshine, clear skies, and lots of vineyards. Vineyards, vineyards, vineyards everywhere we looked. Grapes of every kind. And what for? I bet not a single grape vine will produce a single drop of chocolate milk, even if a brown cow eats the grapes! Useless I say!  : ) But, another bit of beautiful scenery for us to view and enjoy.

We were on our own today at the church, preparing our own meals. Tomorrow we roll into San Francisco and the next day is an off day. It should be fun!

 Peace ...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 11 (of 22) riding ...

Redway, CA to Ukiah, CA
Staying at Ukiah United Methodist Church
96.7 miles today, average pace 12.4 mph
Total ascent 5,203 feet (grades mostly 6% with a 7% here and there)

A false report yesterday. The final hill we climbed (that I had to walk some of), I reported as 12% grade. I found out this morning on the way down it was actually a 15% grade which explains why I had to walk it, because I have done 12% before and was surprised I could not make that climb. Going too slow I don’t get an accurate reading, and going downhill too fast I don’t get an accurate reading. So, this morning I went down the hill at a reasonable rate and got the reading of 15%. Then I checked it on a highway downhill that was marked as 7%, and it was right on.

Today was mostly a bummer for me. I started the ride and just could not find my legs. I was working much too hard and not getting any rhythm or speed going. I struggled almost the entire first 25 miles. I was the last person, and riding just in front of the sweeps; Jason was sweeping and was very supportive of my feeble efforts. I didn’t spend much time at the van stop, because I didn’t want to keep the sweeps out any longer than necessary. The second 25 miles I was feeling a little better, and actually caught up with some riders. I think they must have stopped for pictures or something. Then there was another group of riders struggling with a flat tire ‘cause they couldn’t get the tire off the rim. I wasn’t needed so I went on ahead of them. On the third leg I was struggling badly again, but at least I wasn’t back in front of the sweeps. The last 20 miles was a little better again, but I had gotten a flat just before the stop. A rock punctured the sidewall of my front tire, but after I changed the tube it managed to hold air the rest of the way. So, of course, I changed the tire tonight.

We enjoyed another great meal tonight, provided by a small group of the congregation. We then had a presentation to this small group of about 5 or 6 people. The presentation went well, and Allen had asked me to speak again. For a change, I think I managed to stay with what I wanted to say, and got in all the points I wanted to make.

Now it's close to bedtime. I’m sharing a room with Turbo and Chris, and these ‘old guys’ need to be in bed at 9:30, which is before official lights out at 10:00. So I'm typing this in the dark on my iPad and trying to be quiet.

Two more days of riding (only about 65 miles each day) and we'lll be in San Francisco to enjoy a day off on Monday. Somehow I thought we only had one more day of riding with a day off on Sunday, but, I thought wrong ... oh well.

Peace ...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 10 (of 22) riding ...

Eureka, CA to Redway, CA
Staying at New Wine Fellowship
76.9 miles today, average pace 13.3 mph
Total ascent 3,127 feet (grades mostly 6%, last hill to church was 12%)

We started the morning in a very heavy mist, which means we were getting wet. It was also a little cold, which means we were wet and cold. In other words, we were off on another great ride, heading for The Avenue of The Giants.

By the end of the first 20 miles, no more mist, and well before the end of the ride it was fairly warm. Some climbing today but nothing hard except the last hill that I actually had to walk a little. Again, in other words, another beautiful day of riding.

Looking forward to a ride tomorrow of about 95 miles, and the weather will probably be getting hot by the end of the day. Allen just announced lights out at 9:30 and breakfast at 5:00, for an early start to allow us to hopefully beat some of the heat.

By the end of this trip I will have ridden over 6,400 miles for The Fuller Center: last year from Salt Lake to DC; this year from Nashville to Jackson; then down the East Coast; and now riding down the West Coast. I have seen so much fantastic scenery throughout this country, finding something beautiful almost every place we have ridden. At this time two areas stand out: the West Coast shoreline, and the total magnificence of the trees of the redwood forest--I am in total awe of these trees. I look forward to what lies ahead!

Tired and heading to bed.

Peace ...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day off ...

Eureka, CA
Staying at Faith Center Foursquare Church

Up early and walked about a mile to a breakfast place with Turbo and Tim. Good conversation and a relaxing time for the start of our day off. After breakfast we made another mile walk to a sporting/bike store for more chamois butter and honey wafers. And, I found a merino wool (my favorite) long sleeve shirt on sale. However, I didn’t have my drivers license so they wouldn’t let me purchase without it. So, hmmmph, I decided I didn’t need those items after all.

More walking to go for lunch (a lot of walking for me for one day). I ended up at the same table for lunch with the pastor from the church. Turns out he is a marathon runner, and won the Portland marathon in a time of 2 hours 19 minutes. Young Chris had gone for a run with him this morning and was looking haggard afterwards, but greatly enjoyed the run.

I thought I’d go to the new Batman movie with the group, but they were riding their bikes, and I really didn’t want to leave my bike chained up outside, unattended, for over two hours. So I walked back to the church and did some laundry since the church had washer and dryer available for us to use.

There is a fountain in front of the church building with benches around it. I was feeling melancholy, sitting at the fountain, meditating. Then I lay down on the bench. Next thing I knew, my leg had fallen off the bench, jarring my back, and abruptly woke me up. No damage to my back, but it sure scared me. Not sure how long I slept, but I’m now hoping I can still sleep ok tonight.

Dinner time, so we took a taxi to old town, (no more walking), and I enjoyed dinner with Luke and Turbo Tom.

We’ll be back on our bikes early tomorrow morning, and I’m looking forward to another beautiful ride through an even more spectacular redwood forest.

Peace ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 9 (of 22) riding ...

Crescent City, CA to Eureka, CA
Staying at Faith Center Foursquare Church
87.2 miles today, average pace 11.9 mph
Total ascent 4,445 feet (grades mostly 6% to 8%)

Felt like I was back climbing in Colorado this morning. We left the church, and after a quick warm-up, found ourselves on about a 7 mile climb of about 7% to 8% grade. The bike performed great, and so did I, even with a left knee that I could not push real hard. I had enough gears to still make it up ok. The last 5 days we have climbed a total of 18,074 feet, or an average of 3,615 feet per day.

The first climb took us up into a redwood forest. Reading about these trees, and seeing pictures of them, simply does not do justice to the magnificence of these trees as seen in person. To stand next to them, in the middle of a whole forest of them, is just breathtaking. We came to a regular road sign, "Big Tree" with an arrow pointing to, of course, a big tree. Since they are all big trees I found this terribly funny, until about 500 yards another sign, "Big Tree Recreational Area” which I found equally funny, realizing my mistake.

We have been on Hwy 101 a lot, but Allen keeps finding side roads that keep us away from as much traffic as he can. This also keeps giving us tremendous views of the redwoods and the ocean and shoreline. I managed to stay with a group of about 7 or 8 who were riding through the forest together, stopping and taking pictures, and experiencing this forest together. The routes we have been on on the West Coast ride have been so much more beautiful than the routes we were on on the East Coast. I’m so glad I’m able to experience this adventure.

I rode most of the last two quarters with Sarah D. again. We were both dragging along for most of the way, tired, but enjoying the sights and the slow pace on some rough narrow side roads and trails. The last 7 miles we were back on 101 with a wide shoulder and a better road, and I told Sarah that I was going to kick it up a notch to get us to the church for our shower. She was tired, but agreed to try to rock it in, which we did at a little better pace than we had been going.

A family from the church had us over to their house for dinner. They had a large pot of beef vegetable stew, rolls, cheese, etc, followed by two large containers of ice cream. This was followed by card games and fellowship. A great evening!

Tonight a group is watching a Batman movie here at the church, and some are planning to see the new Batman movie tomorrow on our day off. Stay tuned!

Peace ...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 8 (of 22) riding ...

Port Orford, OR to Crescent City, CA
Staying at Foursquare Gospel Church
85.1 miles today, average pace 13.2 mph
Total ascent 3,852 feet (grades mostly 4% to 6%)
Weather was perfect today. A little chilly this morning, but it turned warmer as the day progressed. Sunny and gorgeous the rest of the day. 

I rode near the back with Carmen almost all day. She had a flat about 10 miles into the ride, but after that we had no trouble. Carmen seems to be getting stronger every day, and is riding quite well; she continues to improve so much from when she started the East Coast ride.
T.O.M. (The Old Man), however, was struggling today. The first 25 miles were just fine, but somewhere on the next 20 miles the left knee started hurting, then it was ok, then it bothered again. By the time I got to the last 20 miles, I could not even get up out of my saddle. I did my exercises at the church before dinner, and my IT band was really sore. We have showers at the church, so it’s much easier to get the exercises in when we don’t have to load up in the van to go to showers like we have to do at most church locations. We need more hours in the day on these adventures! The hours just seem to fly on the ride, then before we know it, it’s lights out to be ready for an early breakfast, then time to ride again.
***A group headed out for a 1.5 mile walk for ice cream, and they asked me if I wanted to go. I fought with all my might, but after 85 miles pedaling, I didn’t have much resistance. My chocolate malt was only a 7.0 tonight, but the large bacon hamburger and fries were very good. Not something worth starting a rating system for, but very good.
After we finished eating food and ice cream Turbo Tom suggested taking a cab back, and I quickly got on board with that idea. It took a bit of arm twisting, but Chris finally agreed to the cab ride also. Jenn said she wanted to walk back because she claimed she has gained weight, and Eric decided to walk with her; imagine that! The folks at the restaurant called the cab for us, and they told us how nice the cab drivers are here. Sure enough, after telling Rick, the cabbie, why we are in town, he wouldn’t take any money for the cab ride. So, I gave Allen the money the cab would have cost, as a donation to The Fuller Center. So, thanks, Rick, the cabbie!
We have started our second segment, have gone from Washington to Oregon, and today we crossed into California, where we’ll spend the rest of the trip. California really is a long state, eh?
Peace ...

Day off ...

Port Orford, OR
Staying at American Legion
I sneaked off this morning and enjoyed a very nice breakfast at a local restaurant. Eggs perfect, good sausage and bacon, and the largest pancake I have ever seen.
Went back to ‘camp’ and wrote some notes for my presentation at Zion Lutheran Church, which I think went well. We were invited to fellowship after church and enjoyed conversation with an older congregation. Very nice and receptive folks, just like we meet every place we go.
***Lunch was on our own, with most of us eating at a local restaurant for fish dinner. Chocolate malt was about a 6.5, lacking somewhat in taste and consistency. Food, however, was excellent. 
Our day continued back at camp where we got laundry ready, took a walk to the beach area, had nice visit with the owner of a local art gallery, and wandered around this very pleasant small Oregon town. Next ate dinner, did cleanup, had a meeting covering new chores for each chore group, sorted and put away laundry, and organized to get ready for next morning’s 5:30 breakfast. Time for a card game, conversation, and lots of computer (Facebook, etc) time. Just another day on the road. We’ll have a couple of long days ahead, followed by another day off. 
I have been riding with my good buddy Sarah Doren a lot lately. She was on the trip last year, so it’s great riding with her again, getting to know her even better. Her Uncle Tom and Aunt Sher are on this adventure, he, the van driver and she, one of the riders. Great folks.

Here’s Sarah, trying to figure out how to get a tire off. She and I were sweeping this particular ride, changed a tire that was bad, so she just wrapped it around herself. However, getting the tire off proved more difficult than getting the tire on!

Peace ... 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day 7 riding ...

North Bend, OR to Port Orford, OR
Staying at American Legion
56.4 miles today, average pace 13.8 mph
Total ascent 2,484 feet (grades between 6% and 11%)
We have now finished 7 days of riding, for a total of 503 miles, which is only 72 miles per day. Our average for the entire trip is 75 miles per day. We had a short day to start and a short day today, but 7 days riding in a row is a lot to start this adventure. Some of the riders have been struggling with the hills, with good reason, but riding like champions, sucking it up and enjoying it, ending the day with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, and rightly so. I’m proud to be a part of this amazing group.
The first segment is over, two riders have left, and we picked up one rider, so I think we now have 31 total participants. The support van was on top of it today big time. They stopped and chalked a very large SLOW FCBA in the middle of the road to warn the riders of a very bad road condition which could have easily caused an accident. 

We are only a few blocks away from this beautiful view of the ocean. A group walked all the way down to the beach, after showers at the high school, and walked around for a while. I watched them from up high. I’m finding that I prefer riding my bike up steep hills rather than walking up them.
A day off tomorrow, and much needed. A lot of rear ends need a break from the saddle, mine included! I have three too many hot spots working up to no good. Not sure what is on tap for the day off besides resting up. Some were hoping for the new Batman movie to be playing, but they only have Snow White and the Hunchback or some such title. The wind coming off the ocean is a bit of a challenge, but refreshing at the same time. Actually it may be blowing out rather than in, Interesting.
A side note to my bike adventure: the following link is a YouTube video of my amazing daughter-in-law speaking in front of 34,000 youth in the Superdome in New Orleans.You should watch it!
Ok, I have chores to attend to, so more tomorrow if there is anything to report on.
Peace ...

Riding ...

Day 6 riding ... FRIDAY, JULY 20
Newport, OR to North Bend, OR
College Park Community Church
97.7 miles today, average pace 12.2 mph
Total ascent 4,528 feet
Started in the rain and cold again. No complaints, just what it is. Since we rode almost a century today, we knew the cold and rain would be with us, or not. I can't control that, but I can control whether or not I still have a good time and enjoy the ride. And, I love the challenge of completing the ride. I am, however, careful and have no desire to overdo anything just to say I finished!
Tim's derailer broke today. As I understand it, he had just finished a very fast descent, and slowed to start another climb, when it just sheared off. The good news is he was not hurt. The bad news is he will be four days without his bike, three of those riding days.
And today my friends the head winds joined my friends the hills. Again the grades were not bad, mostly 6% or occasionally a 7%, but we did climb 4,528 feet. One rider got in the van because of the weather, another just didn't ride, another was struggling with the hills and rode in the van for one of the 20 mile segments. Look for the picture of Luke at the van after the first 25 miles. He, like all of us, was covered in road dirt; he’s just covered in much more than most of us.
Toward the end of the ride I was about to make one of the last few turns in the city, and was looking for the chalk and street sign to make sure I had the right street and direction, when what do I see just before the turn, but a chalk saying, MALT, with an arrow pointing to a diner. So I pulled in (I was riding by myself at the time), ordered a chocolate malt, hamburger, and fries. (I found out we were having tacos for dinner, not my favorite food group, so I thought I’d dine early.) Then as I was eating, other riders started showing up, and they joined me in dining. 
***Since I was already finished and the others were still eating, I ordered another chocolate malt, just to make sure of my rating. And my ratings? Well, the first malt gets a 7.5, and the second gets a 6.0. The first would have gotten a higher rating, except they use soft serve ice cream.

Day 5 riding ... THURSDAY, JULY 19
Tillamook, OR to Newport, OR
Newport First Presbyterian Church
76.1 miles today, average pace 12.7 mph
Total ascent 4,045 feet
I get up each day and I’m ready to ride. I love the start of each ride, and I love each segment of each ride. And, of course, I especially love the finish of each ride. What I don't like is starting again after the van break every 20 miles, or whenever we stop for any length of time. My legs are the problem, because when I stop to refresh my body with water and snacks, the legs think their job is finished. So when I get back on the bike they immediately start screaming at me, "What do you think you are doing? We just did that, and NOW you want us to do this pedaling again? What are you? Crazy?” So the legs grumble (or worse) until they realize they are expected to keep doing the pedal thing again. This makes for interesting conversation between me and my legs for about the first mile after each stop (so if it appears I’m talking to myself, well, I am).
The kids keep asking me how I’m doing, and I keep answering fantastic! and keep getting strange looks. Actually I am doing fantastic, even if I am hurting, because at 70 years of age, I’m just thankful that I’m able to do these rides.
Really am enjoying the beautiful scenery along the coast. I did not realize Oregon has sand dunes (didn't get any pictures). Beautiful.
***A large group of us went out for ice cream after showers and dinner, to a place called Flashbacks Fountain and Grill. Real ice cream, nice malt flavor, a little weak on consistency, so it gets 7.5 rating.
Peace ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 4 riding ...

Naselle, WA to Tillamook, OR
Bethel Baptist
86.1 miles today, average pace 13.6 mph
Total ascent 3,248 feet
Washington to Oregon. The Oregon coast is just magnificent! Breathtaking views. The climbing was a welcome change from flat. All grades were 3% to 6.5%, so nothing very steep, but we did have length to some of the climbs, but probably not more than a few miles to any of them. The miles were manageable because unfortunately we had no headwinds to go with these climbs.

I was heartbroken today because my new love and windbreak, Luke, deserted me. He went and volunteered to sweep, so I had to work much harder today, and the others I rode with made me share the pulling. Then there is Carmen, who actually beat me to the first van stop, and also to the church. However, I stopped to help Turbo Tom with his flat tire, then we stopped to eat a late lunch before going to the church. Carmen is riding so much better than she was even at the end of the East Coast ride, and I hope she gets strong enough to kick my butt. 
Today I was riding with "the amazing Blake Smith" just long enough to get lost with him. I should have known better, but I didn’t want to be rude, so I stayed with him. He, of course, manages to get lost about every other day, without even trying. Thankfully Sarah noticed that we missed the turn, and called Blake to let us know to turn around. We only rode about an extra mile or so, so not so bad.
I have been greatly enjoying attending church services at all the different churches that we are privileged to stay at. It’s fascinating to be sitting in the service thinking that this is not the way I am used to worshipping. But then, as the service progresses, I find myself thinking that whatever you are comfortable with is the best way. We are all serving the same Christ, so however each worships is the right way. I have started to try getting into each service more and to try to experience what each congregation is experiencing. After I got home from the East Coast ride I attended my church (Lutheran) and of course I was so comfortable with the familiar worship setting. But, it’s good to experience different liturgies and forms of worship, because after all, we are all praying to the same Jesus.
All of the churches we stay at are very much appreciated. Some provide snacks when we arrive, then dinner, then breakfast as well. Some don't provide any meals, but allow us to use their kitchen, pots, pans, utensils, and refrigerator. Some just let us sleep there and we have to eat out, or just provide a cold meal from our coolers. Whatever is provided is all greatly appreciated because it saves money that stays with The Fuller Center, even though we have a sponsor that covers these expenses.
Tonight we had a presentation for Allen. We all chipped in to give him a new duffle bag, and announced that tomorrow night we’ll have a new pair of running shoes for him (both his duffle and shoes have seen much better days, so we were thrilled to be able to surprise him with these items).
Peace ...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Day 3 riding ...

Chehalis, WA to Naselle, WA
Naselle Assembly of God
89.6 miles today, average pace 14.2 mph
A number of bumps (some are calling hills), really not just flat
A great breakfast provided by Faith Baptist Church. Several members were up early to cook for our 5:30 breakfast, and what a breakfast it was! 
A nice ride again, in a paceline after Jenn, Luke, and Eric caught up with me (I had left before them). I had been riding by myself and they let me pull them for a while, until Luke finally pulled ahead because, as he said, "You look like you could use a rest." Now Luke is a big guy, and we had headwind, so this was a great draft--I would really, really enjoy Luke’s pulling me any time I’m on my bike. When he sat up and stretched, with hands outstretched to the side, I told him that if he would do that all the time I would pay him to pull me. It felt like riding behind a semi-truck, no kidding! 
Later then, when riding by myself again, I got to thinking about riding hands free of the bars. I have not been able to do that since I was a kid. Of course a kid with his first bike wants to show off by riding hands free, but is scared to try it, maybe until a lot of his buddies are doing it. Then he does it and is successful (meaning he doesn't crash) and he’s now showing off to the girls just like his buddies do. So that leaves me with the dilemma: do I try it now? do I not try? I’ve done it before (ok, ok, many, many years before). Most of these kids can do it, why not me? I have a good bike, it should be simple! Just let go and keep peddling. It would come in handy a lot of times. Like taking my helmet off for a second to let the bug out, or getting the lid off my chap stick, or drinking my chocolate malt easier, etc., etc. Well, maybe I’ll not try now. Maybe I’ll try it after this West Coast ride, or maybe after our epic ride in September, or maybe this winter with some soft snow around me, or maybe I’ll just wait until I’m 80. Yeah, that sounds like a much better time. 
When I’m sitting alone in the evening trying to put this blog together, I realize I could really use a voice recorder on my bike that I can use with one hand, since I can’t seem to remember all the things that happen during the ride that I want to blog about. But, this will have to do. 
Peace ...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 2 riding ...

Tacoma, WA to Chehalis, WA
Staying at Faith Baptist Church
58.4 miles today, average pace 15.7 mph
A number of bumps (some are calling them hills), really not just flat
A very nice day riding. Cool temperatures all day, mostly cloudy all day, now sunny this afternoon as we get showers and relax. There’s a Baskin Robbins 2.5 miles from the church, but too far to walk, and I don’t want to ride and get sweaty again after my shower. Maybe I’ll reconsider after dinner the church is providing for us. With this larger group it’s more difficult to make excursions because it takes gas money, and we have three van loads if everybody wants to go. 
We did have another fall today, but nothing serious (not serious means it wasn’t me who fell). But Susan, who did fall, has a sore side, a sore hand, and some road rash. We spent about 10 miles riding on a very nice trail. Only a few bumps in the blacktop, and some intersections that we had to slow down for, and we were able to ride side by side, visiting as we rode, getting to know each other a little more. Very pleasant and a nice pace. Sarah rode with her Aunt Sher for about 4 or 5 miles on this trail. I was riding with Jim a lot today, following him in a nice paceline, and then some on the trail. Turbo Tom was also with this paceline. I also got to ride a lot with Sarah today, because she was nice enough to slow down so I could keep up.
Getting to know another great group of riders is always a highlight of these trips. Already see a lot of helping and encouraging each other, as well as friendships developing. 
Another great dinner, provided by Faith Baptist Church. After dinner a group of us did an intervention with Allen by getting him to take us to the Nike outlet store, and then the group tried to buy him new shoes before his fall off his feet. Unfortunately the store did not have the style Allen was hoping to get, so we’ll try again at the stop after next. 
I don't know why everybody doesn’t sign up for an adventure like this. They are missing an important life development opportunity. Wake up, "geezerville" and the rest of you.
Washington State has been just beautiful, and as night approaches we have a most beautiful sunset.
Peace ...

Seattle ... day one riding ... July 15

Seattle, WA to Tacoma, WA
Staying at Urban Grace Church
39 miles today, average pace 13.1 mph
Rolling hills most about 9% the worst 13% (but nothing more than about 1/2 mile)
West Coast, we are here! Watch out for us and give us plenty of room, please. 
Today I lost my cool a little bit. I recruited a rider, Al, from our host church to ride with us to Tacoma, and I was following him when a car passed us and then turned right into a shopping center right in front of Al. He didn’t know the car was turning because he was alongside the car and to the back. He did manage to hit the brakes before running into the side of the car, and then grabbed the car to keep himself upright and hung on as he rode the car thru the rest of the turn, where the driver finally stopped the car. The good part about this was that the only injury or damage was that the handlebars needed to be straightened. The bad part was that I raised my voice very strongly to the driver. (The good part about that was I did not cuss, and I did apologize to her for yelling at her once I knew that Al and his bike were OK.)
The rest of the ride for me was uneventful, just some rain to deal with and the effort made to stay warm enough in it. One other rider had a fall, with a swollen ankle and some road rash.
I’m finally learning how to find retail stores thru Google and to map them to see how to get to them. Funny what wanting a chocolate malt will encourage one to do! So, off 6 of us went for a 1.2 mile walk, one way, to get our ice cream. To Baskin Robbins no less, and I was not expecting much after my experience with the other chain on the East Coast ride that did not even have malt. So I got my chocolate malt, a large of course, and asked for two straws. It passed the two straw test with flying colors, as I was able to use the two straws as a spoon to scoop up the malt, so the thickness was outstanding. Taste was very good, just a little heavier with the malt would have been even better. Consistency also was outstanding. They used real ice cream, not soft serve. 
***So, Baskin Robbins’ malt in Tacoma, WA gets a 9.5, and thus has set the standard for the rest of the trip! I was very impressed. Now I have to find another Baskin Robbins to see if the chain has any consistency.
Peace ...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Home ... July 1

It was so nice to be home Sunday evening after five weeks away. Then we left Tuesday for a business trip to Chicago, which also included a visit with Joel and Jen. Our new facility at Cragin Metals has come together very nicely -- great job done by Joel, Jen, Stanley, Wayne, and all the shop staff. Cragin is poised to grow, expand, and improve operations dramatically. We’re proud to have such great people working with us.
Returned home to rain and much cooler temperatures than in Chicago. Monday the van,     trailer, and five West Coast riders (Allen, Rae, Carmen, Chris, and Burgess) arrived to stay for a couple days’ rest. Allen drove the van from Key West, FL to Americus, GA, home of The Fuller Center, then loaded it up again with gear and riders to head to Seattle. Two days of driving and they arrived at our house to take a break from being in the van. 
In Key West I had boxed my bike up for Allen to carry up to Seattle for me, saving me some shipping costs. I pulled the bike off the trailer when they arrived, had it serviced, and boxed it back up to go back on the trailer to Seattle.
Tuesday we all got our bikes out and rode out to The Raptor Education Foundation in Brighton, a round trip of about 36 miles (where I volunteer when I’m not out on a Fuller Bike Adventure). I even got a chance to help Anne with a couple of birds before heading back home. 
The Anthem bike club hosted a pot luck for us that afternoon, with about 35 riders participating. Allen gave a brief presentation, we all introduced ourselves, then enjoyed fellowship, food, and Aspen Lodge amenities, including the outdoor pool. 

Everyone was up early Wednesday morning for a 5am breakfast at our house. Then all items got loaded on the trailer, and the group was joined by Jenn, a first-time Fuller biker. I’ll fly out Friday to meet them in Seattle. We’ll have some orientation Friday, a full orientation along with a practice ride Saturday, and Sunday we start another adventure down the West Coast to San Diego. 
Peace ...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Final day riding ... June 30

Marathon, FL to Key West, FL
Staying at Impact Community Church
53.17 miles today, average pace 14.7 mph
Flatter than Flat
OK, OK, OK, etc. (yes, I made it home, so quit bugging me now, eh?)
I have arrived at the end of my second Fuller Bike adventure this year, this one the East Coast from Saco, ME to Key West, FL. We all stopped about 5 miles out to regroup so we could all ride in together. We stopped at a beach as close to the end as we could get, took pictures, and Allen handed out metals for our accomplishment. (I hope I packed mine with my bike since it did not arrive home with me.) More pictures were take  at the closest point to Cuba, with a big marker to line up in front of to take the pictures. Lots of people were waiting in line at this point.
From Facebook:

Cyclist Tom "Geezerman" Weber is going to be so ANGRY if you don't read the wonderful article he penned for the Wilmington Star News!
More later, but I’m trying to get ready for the West Coast after a trip to Chicago after finishing the East Coast.
Peace ...