Saturday, August 18, 2012

Catch-up ...

FedEx delivered my bike Thursday, so I got it put back together, and took it out for a ride this morning. I’ve been riding my old friend Waterford the last few days, but am glad to have my new Mosiac to ride again. It performed flawlessly on both coasts, having gone over 3,600 miles. This year I have ridden 4,180 miles for The Fuller Center for Affordable Housing. Another big thanks to those who have donated to make this possible. I am blessed!

I’m having a blast reading the Facebook postings from all the FCBA’ers, keeping in touch with each other because of the beautiful friendships made during this nine-week, 3,600-mile adventure, helping people get into affordable homes. I love all of these “kids” and I am blessed to have ridden with them, gotten to know them, and now get to follow them as we all get back to business as usual.

Life is good ...


West Coast final three days ...

Day 22 (of 22) riding ...
Oceanside, CA to San Diego, CA
Staying at Point Loma United Methodist Church
45.2 miles today, average pace 10.2 mph
Total ascent 1,647 feet (grades 5%)

***Chocolate Malt rating: 6.0

Today was our last ride together, at least on this adventure. We enjoyed a nice easy ride with a couple of stops along the way. I rode with Sarah and Sher again, and enjoyed the entire day. 

A few words about Sher. She celebrated her 60th birthday on this adventure, and had not ridden a bike in about 30 years before starting to ride again for this trip. She did a lot of training to get ready, some on a trainer. Since she and Tom live in a rural area, getting used to riding in traffic was quite a struggle for her. I swept our first practice ride in Seattle, and got to see firsthand how nervous she was riding in traffic situations. She was not a strong rider to begin with, so she rode in the back of the group most of the time. If there is too much distance between the lead riders and the sweeps, the day quickly becomes difficult to manage, because the van can't service the entire group from the front and back at the same time. Sher, however, was very aware of this problem, and was always most considerate of the group as a whole, and would on occasion put her bike in the trailer and ride in the van if she felt she might be creating a gap. I know she would have liked to have ridden more of the route, but always put the group’s convenience before her own wants. It was my sincere pleasure to get to know both Sher and Tom.

So here’s a picture of Jenn and me enjoying the ocean waves! Jenn lives about 45 miles from “Geezerville” where I live, and I’m hoping to get some riding time in with her in the future. She, like everyone else, will have to slow down if she wants to ride with me, however.

And this is a great picture I love of Rae leading the pack. She announced her engagement near the end of this ride, and I’m so happy for her. She is just a totally delightful person, and her faith is simply wonderful to witness.

It was tough today, saying goodbye to all the riders, giving hugs, and feeling sad for the adventure to be ending.

Peace ...

Build day ...

For our one build day on this adventure we split into two groups, to work at two different locations. My group replaced the entire kitchen cabinets with a new (floor model) set of cabinets for our assigned house. We also did a lot of landscaping, cleaning up, planting, and mulching. A special treat was adding a new outside playhouse for the kids. The other group painted the entire inside of their house, and also did yardwork.

When we finished up our work we went downtown and enjoyed a terrific pizza dinner. It’s  always great to meet the people behind the build days, and this was no exception. Bettie Youngs is the local affiliate director, and is the publisher of many books, including her own book, “The House That Love Built”, which  is the story of Linda and Millard Fuller. 

Next door to the pizza was a book signing, arranged by Bettie, for Tony Volpentest, "the fastest man in the world." What an inspiration he is, and certainly now he’s one of my heroes. He had retired from competition, but has now announced he’s back in training for the 2016 Olympics. I purchased four of his books (coincidentally titled “Fastest Man in the World”), three to use as gifts. I look forward to reading about Tony. He is shown here with another of my heroes, Jon, who is a cancer survivor, a FCBA biker, and a man of great character and faith. I’m proud to call him friend.

Peace ...

Day 21 (of 22) riding ...

Huntington Beach, CA to Oceanside, CA
Staying at  Grace Chapel of the Coast
54.5 miles today, average pace 11.8 mph
Total ascent 1,732 feet (grades 4%)

***Chocolate Malt rating: 6.0

Sweep today ... Carmen and I swept and hung out with Sher, and my riding buddy, Sarah. A pretty easy day, with no difficult climbs. I think this was the day that a local newspaper reporter stopped our group as we rode by, and interviewed us. I love the picture he took of me with the cookie in my mouth.

Peace ... 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 20 (of 22) riding ...

Reseda, CA to Huntington Beach, CA
Staying at St. Wilfrid's of York Episcopal Church
75.7 miles today, average pace 13.5 mph
Total ascent 1,519 feet (grades 4%-6%)

Accident ... Only one climb today, but unfortunately on the fun way down Jason caught some gravel and went down hard. We got quick response from the 911 call, and very soon Jason was on his way to the hospital. The preliminary report was stitches for his head and also his knee. Fortunately, no concussion! We were all praying that he would be ok, and were encouraged when he kept asking for pictures to be taken, but still bummed out that he had gotten hurt. Of course Jason’s accident put a big damper on the day, but we stayed in touch with him all day as he called with updates. Tonight Allen is on his way to get Jason from the hospital.

Other than that, it was a good strong day of riding, again with my buddy Sarah. Also Ryan joined the adventure late last night, and I rode some with him, Ray, Sarah R, Tim, and Chris. A nice easy ride with good weather all day. Pleasant in the morning, and not too hot this afternoon. The ride today took us along the coast, some routes on bike paths along the beach. 

We had had some flats, using my tubes the last couple of rides, so I decided to make a run to a bike store. Nobody else needed to go, so I pulled out my smart phone, and all by myself, I found the closest shop, mapped the route, and took off. After a couple of turns trying to figure out which way was which on the phone, I rode right to the shop. I got my tubes and a couple of CO2 cartridges, and then asked them where an ice cream store was. They didn’t know, so again I looked up a Baskin Robbins on my phone, mapped it, and rode right to it easily. It was even in the direction of the church. 

***I rated my last Baskin Robbins malt a 9.5, but this one gets only a 6.5. The server used the old metal mixer to make this malt, and they used a blender to make the malt the last time. So, that may be the reason for the lower rating, or else this guy was just not as good.

Finished my malt and pulled out my trusty iPhone, and quickly mapped my way back to the church, with no trouble at all. I AM SO PROUD of my new ability with finding things with my iPhone (finally)! I even gave Turbo a lesson the other day, and he’s up and running with it also.

Another great church! They had snacks, watermelon, and drinks ready for us when we got here. They are also providing dinner AND breakfast. They have a beautiful, large campus facility, and have received us most graciously. 

There’s been talk about our wearing costumes for our ride tomorrow, and now some action is taking place. The suspense is overwhelming as some have headed out to the Goodwill store close by.

Peace ...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day off ...

Reseda, CA
Kirk of the Valley Presbyterian Church

Turbo, Chris, and I went for breakfast this morning, after sleeping until 7:00. Just a short half mile walk to a grubby looking but decent diner. Then back to the church for a nap until about 10:00. 

Still feeling blah, so yesterday’s ride was evidently tougher on me than I realized. A lot of lethargy throughout the whole group this morning as we try to recover.

Not much planned today, as the forecast is for at least three days of 100+ temperature, and there’s not much energy within our group that I can see, so we’re all really taking a day off! 

Peace ... 

Day 19 (of 22) riding ...

Santa Barbara, CA to Reseda, CA
Staying at Kirk of the Valley Presbyterian Church
88.8 miles today, average pace 13.8 mph
Total ascent 2,467 feet (grades 4%-7%)

Heat ... This morning we took off in unexpected brightness. It took some time and miles to figure out that the very bright thing in the sky was the SUN. What a pleasant surprise. However, with the sun out all day the heat also found us. My computer registered over 110 F, and in that heat the real problem was, of course, staying hydrated. I was able to drink enough water until the last 20 miles. I drank about two-thirds of my second bottle, but the remaining water got so hot I couldn’t drink it, so just toughed out the last 6 miles with small sips. Not ideal, but I drank enough to get over the last pretty decent hill. We passed stores where I could have stopped, but I wanted to finish more than I wanted to stop for water. Considering everything, I was surprised I felt as good as I did. Some of the other riders were struggling, and suffering, trying to get rehydrated. 

Turbo's son Mike graciously came by after the ride to give free chiropractor adjustments to any of the riders who needed or wanted the adjustment. He commented that he was making a lot of similar adjustments. Makes sense, with all of us being in similar positions on the bike, that the same work would be needed. Mike also arranged for a massage therapist to come by and give half-hour massage to any who wanted to sign up and pay. I was not really interested in a half-hour massage, but signed up for a full hour!

Carmen and I attended a grief recovery meeting after dinner. She has been riding in honor of her friend who died while on a bike ride last year. The group just happened to be meeting at the host church, and we asked if we could join them. It was a celebration of the end of their class, so we got to listen to the testimonies from each of the attendees. They use the Grief Recovery Method, which is very similar to the group I attended after my sister, Pat, died 18 years ago. I think Carmen will try to hook up with a facilitator when she gets home after the ride.

Peace ...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day off ...

Santa Barbara, CA
Staying at First Baptist Church
Church ... Attended my first ever Mormon service this morning. Dean and 'new' Chris are both Mormons and took three of us with them to the local temple for a testimony service. The service consisted of some hymns being sung by the congregation, and individuals going up to give personal testimony related to their lives. Dean and Chris both gave testimony about themselves in relation to the bike ride we are on, and some of the other testimonies related to us as well. The service was not what I expected, but then I didn’t know what to expect. I’m glad I had a chance to attend, especially with two friends who could explain some of what was going on. 
Following that service we went back to the host church, where I got to sit in on some of the Baptist service. I had to leave early to say goodbye to Wendy and Dean, two great people who are an inspiration to me, and were certainly a pleasure to meet and to ride with.
The host church did not plan to feed us any meals, but those who attended their service were invited to join in a meal afterwards. Our group is just too large for them to have invited all of us, but the few who were able to go enjoyed a good meal and interaction with the congregation. We were not allowed to use the kitchen at first, but once they saw who we were, they immediately told us to please make use of the kitchen and were very gracious to us.
The beach called us, so we walked down in various groups; some rode their bikes to avoid the walk. My group walked down, and after a brief visit to the beach, Turbo Tom and I took a taxi to the main wharf, where we toured a bit, then found an ice cream shop. No malts available, but I had a delicious cone of cookie dough. Three of the girls walked about 4 miles along the beach to meet up with us a couple hours later. They enjoyed the walk, but Sarah managed to lose her phone in the ocean while running and jumping to avoid the waves that were progressing up the beach as the tide rolled in.
There was a group down on the beach corner by the wharf that had set up hundreds of white crosses in the form of a military cemetery. The people were reading the names of all the teenage warriors who have been killed in Afghanistan. A bell was rung after each name and date of death were read. There were also about two rows of black crosses representing warriors who had returned home from Afghanistan but then committed suicide. It all made a very moving statement.
While waiting, we met up with Luke and then we all enjoyed dinner of fish and chips while watching some of the Olympics. There happened to be a Coldstone Ice Cream shop across the street, so I had to try a chocolate malt.  ***Chocolate malt rating: 4.0 no substance to the ice cream, too thin, and straws (2) that were so thin even the weak malt could hardly make it up to my mouth.
Another taxi ride took us back to the church to get ready for another long ride tomorrow. 
Peace ...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 18 (of 22) riding ...

Santa Maria, CA to Santa Barbara, CA
Staying at First Baptist Church
74.7 miles today, average pace 12.4 mph
Total ascent 3,153 feet (grades 4%-7.5%)

***Chocolate Malt rating:  pending, on walk to town 

Winding down ... The trip is winding down now -- only 4 more riding days, one build day, and a couple days off. Some extra days off because the local affiliates were not able to put together anything for us to work on. The build days have been a disappointment this year. The spring ride was great, but the East Coast ride had only two build days, and the West Coast ride will end up with only one. The Fuller Center has 55 affiliates throughout the country, but this is a large country, and we are a very young organization, only 7 years old. So, one of the main reasons for this trip is to spread the word about who we are and to get churches interested in becoming affiliates. Millard Fuller’s death created a huge gap in the growth of the organization, because he was so dynamic and in demand as a speaker.
The day started a little chilly, but no mist to speak of, and it soon turned clear and sunny for most of the day. Some said it even got hot, but they don't really know what hot is. A little warm at most. 

I was amazed as we rode by the fields. I learned this is how they take care of their raspberry crops.

My buddy Sarah had some structural problems with her back and leg today, so we were just out for an easy ride, even holding the sweeps back a little at one point. I was even climbing the hills faster than Sarah was. Well, some of the hills. The last 15 miles Sarah asked me to pull her home, so I picked it up a few notches and she managed to summon the energy to stay with me. Another great riding day.
So tomorrow is a day off, followed by a 98-mile day, followed by another day off, followed by two riding days, followed by a build day, followed by a ride to our final destination, San Diego. And the next day a plane ride home to be with my lovely wife again. This finish will put me over 4,000 miles biking this year for The Fuller Center for affordable housing.
Peace ...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Day 17 (of 22) riding ...

Cambria, CA to Santa Maria, CA
Staying at First Christian Church
73.8 miles today, average pace 12.7 mph
Total ascent 2,111 feet (grades 4%-6%)
***Chocolate malt rating today:  6.0 good taste, but no body
***Chocolate malt rating for yesterday:  bad day, found none
***Chocolate malt rating for two days ago:  1st one, 1.0; 2nd one, 6.0
Easy riding again ... So, if it was so easy, why was my average speed slower today than yesterday? Hmmmmmmmmmm. Rode again with my buddy Sarah, and also some with Wendy. Not much climbing today, and what climbs we did have were not very long. However, we did have one hill that I had to walk. I got part way up and had to stop while I was showing 13% grade, and it was getting steeper. I had every intention of riding this thing, but could not summon the will to carry on. Kurt had it rated at about 22%, but I don't think that could be accurate. I should have tried harder, and was disappointed that I did not. I found out later that Carmen made that climb and I was so proud of her. And then, of course, more disappointed in myself for not trying harder.
The day started out with a heavy mist again, which finally cleared just before the 25 mile mark, and finally warmed enough for me to get my jacket and then vest off for the last 15 miles or so. The trouble is that I sweat under the jacket that’s keeping me dry and warm, but then I can't get out of the jacket because I’m wet, and it’s too cold with the jacket off because I’m too wet. Oh, my -- the troubles of a bike rider.
We passed by more strawberry fields, as well as fields of other crops. When we stopped for pictures a worker told us they were harvesting, packaging, and shipping broccoli. Quite an operation all done out in the field. Makes the build day we had on the East Coast more meaningful, having provided a migrant family with a two-story home for under $10,000.
I had some mental problems trying to keep myself going in the ride again today, but made a fast effort to block them successfully, and was able to enjoy 99% of the ride.
Showers again at a local community center that had an amazing swimming facility. We had access to the showers only between 3:00 and 5:00 because of the swimming programs they run, but that worked for us!
Tonight we enjoyed a lasagna dinner provided by the church folks. A very receptive group, and they invited us to talk to them following dinner, after the dishes were all cleaned up. Allen gave his usual good presentation, after which the folks asked for stories from the riders. So, of course, I talked for a while, as did four others. The church members will also provide breakfast for us at 5:30, which is a nice treat and makes it easier and quicker for us to get out on the road.  
Peace ...

Day 16 (of 22) riding ...

Carmel, CA to Cambria, CA
Staying at First Baptist Church of Cambria
105.4 miles today, average pace 12.9 mph
Total ascent 7,178 feet (grades 4%-8%)
Lots of work today ... the Big Sur region, along the central coast of California, is incredibly beautiful, as well as dangerous. Awesome scenery to view, when it could be seen through the clouds/fog. 

Lots and lots  and lots of climbing with some nice descents to go along with all the work of getting to the top. Lots and lots of curves in the road. Very little shoulder most of the time. Lots and lots and lots and lots of dumb drivers, passing us by crossing over the double yellow lines when they were heading into a blind curve. No injuries, so all is well, but just stupid chances taken time after time.
The challenge was definitely there today. Over 7,000 feet elevation gain going up and down these hills at some strong grades, combined with the 105 mile distance, was just plain work. Lots of fun biking, which, with the curves, road conditions, and traffic, created a challenge that kept us on our toes all day long. Difficult to keep the concentration level needed for riding in the area while trying to see the scenery or trying to find a place to stop for pictures. A great day of riding!

We did find a good place to stop for some photos of the seals. Fascinating to watch their interaction, or in some cases, seeming lack of action. 
I rode mostly with Sarah again today, and told her, “You pass me going up hills, you run away from me on the downhills, you set a pace on the flats that I can't keep up with, and you’re just a girl! How is that fair?” And she answered, “Because you’re just an old man!” Ya gotta love good buddies!
I have called Sarah a ‘goofpot’ (a warm term of endearment!) ever since sharing the bike adventure with her last summer. She proved my point again by posing in front of this road sign.
Bedtime will be early tonight, after this beautiful day of adventure ends with a rinse off in the sink because showers were not available.
Peace ... 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 15 (of 22) riding ...

Santa Cruz, CA to Carmel, CA
Staying at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church
57.5 miles today, average pace 12.6 mph
Total ascent 2,385 feet (grades 4%-6%, one at 15%, some at 12%, some at 11%)

Another perfect day of riding. Some challenging hills near the end of the ride today, but none of the steep hills were very long. We came around a curve and were suddenly faced with 15% hill, and the others were scrambling to find their granny gears, while all I had to do was let up a little on the pedal pressure, spin my shifter four quick clicks, take another pedal or two, spin it again, the bike is in granny gear, and I’m ready to work my way up this new challenge. Love my new bike!
My buddy Sarah and I rode together again today. We rode strong the first 25 miles with 7 other riders and I felt real good again. (I think I can forget about the bad day I had two rides ago now.) We split from the other riders after the first van break, and Sarah and I rode the rest of the way, with Tim joining us for most of that time. Tim was riding stronger than we were, so he kept pulling away and then coming back to us. 
As we biked through one region today we noticed a delightful fragrance in the air. We were biking through field after field after field of strawberries! The view of all the migrant workers toiling in the fields, with the packing stations, aid stations, trailer facilities, lockers, etc., was quite a lovely picture. 
I must tell you about the ride after the Golden Gate Bridge the other day (which, of course, I forgot about then). There are a lot of disrespectful (rude) riders in that area (kind of like in Boulder), and they will not even announce that they are coming up on you and passing you. This, of course, is just not a safe way to ride, as the potential for accidents increases greatly. So yet another male rider, with no acknowledgement, zoomed by me and then Sarah as we were going into a pretty steep hill. I could just feel Sarah steaming at yet another rude person, and after pondering for just a minute, she was up out of her saddle and after this guy. As she overtook him she called out loudly, “Bike left,” and rode past him, up the hill. At the top of the hill she stopped to wait for me and gave the guy her best smile, with her delightfully shy expression. I could hardly wait to get to the top and give her a "beautifully done" hearty high five and awkward bike hug.
Tonight we have to prepare our own dinner, and I’m now on that chore group, so I’m glad I’ve already been to town and had a late lunch/early dinner. Actually, in spite of me, we usually have good meals when we cook for ourselves, maybe just not as hearty as when the churches cook for us.
This group of FCBA riders is another outstanding group of folks who have come together and are so supportive of one another, so helpful to one another. This is just a wonderful "team" effort that has come together in a very satisfying manner. It’s great to be a part of this adventure.
Looks like we have a century plus ride tomorrow followed by two 75 mile days before another day off. How could it be any better?
Peace ...

Day 14 (of 22) riding

San Francisco, CA to Santa Cruz, CA
Staying at Vintage Faith Church
79.6 miles today, average pace 12.4 mph
Total ascent 4,193 feet (grades 4%-6% one short 13%)
Adventure ... today a mountain bike would have been a lot more fun to be riding on for about 6 miles of our 79-mile day. At the bike shop yesterday some of us were talking with the bike store owner, who advised us to take a shortcut over San Pedro Mountain. He said it’s no problem riding the route with a road bike, although a mountain bike would be better. He suggested the shortcut because Hwy CA-1 has a very narrow shoulder and sharp curves on the portion we would miss using the shortcut, a dangerous portion of the road to be riding on. Once we got back on CA-1 we still had a short distance to ride on the dangerous section, so we appreciated his shortcut advice.
The shortcut was a good idea. It’s called "The Devils Slide Detour," and I just loved it. Three miles up through a thick jungle-like trail (actually I’ve never been on a jungle trail to really know that, but that’s what it seemed to me), and three miles down over the roughest terrain I have ever ridden my road bike. Riding on broken pavement, gravel, dirt, sand, rocks, along the edge of cliffs -- a typical dirt bike trail. JUST what I needed to break out of the mental struggles I had on the last ride. I was doing ok for the first 15 miles before this detour, but for the rest of the ride I felt renewed and refreshed, even with the bit of climbing that we did. The hills were my friends again!
Once we arrived we took a walk downtown to CVA, enjoyed a pizza slice, and went to Trader Joe's for some snacks. 
For dinner we met with a large group of young religion students, participated in their church program that consisted of prayer, testimony from individuals, a singalong, acknowledgements of individuals, a short presentation by Allen, a sermon, and then break-out groups. Because of the hour we skipped the break-out groups and headed back to the gym to get ready for bed.
Peace ...