My latest adventure down the west coast is now over. Posts are listed by date on the right. In a departure from previous years, I am not asking for donations. Instead, I will be making a sizable donation on behalf of my father-in-law, father, and all the wonderful people who have supported me over the years.

My rides will continue to make a difference in the lives of families fighting lung disease and to increase awareness about the importance of lung health. Follow along … Together; we are improving life, one breath at a time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ride The West - Day 23 - Marina del Rey, CA to Newport Beach, CA

Another amazing trip has come to an end.  My friendships grew stronger with every mile I rode and every hill I climbed.  The outstanding ABB crew provided top notch support and helped ensure we all arrived safely.  While today was somewhat anticlimactic, the trip and the people certainly were not.  It provided me life long memories and deepened my love for cycling.  As I expected, the ride was more about the people than the miles.  I will remember the conversations, the laughs, the stories, and the comradery.

Our Half Way Shot ... Never Took One Today ... Thanks Guys!
The sites were not too shabby either.  In 23 days we covered over 1,400 miles and climbed almost 73,000 feet.  We saw it all ... two amazing states, rocky beaches, breathtaking ocean views, quaint and not so quaint beach towns, Victorian homes, steep climbs, busy highways, great bike paths, wineries, crops, huge redwood trees, surfers, tarantulas, bridges, and so much more. I know I will reread this blog and look at the pictures for years to come.

My wife and family make it all possible.  They support me, push me, and follow me.  Thanks for letting me do what I love.  Next year, the big trip will include them ... a trip to Costa Rica is in the works.  My riding mates have become such an important part of my life.   A big thanks to the other stooges (Jeff and Joe) for putting up with me, helping me, teasing me, and making me a stronger person and cyclist.  I could fill a blog with thanks and stories of my fellow riders.  Each one holds a special place in my heart.  It was great to spend time with all the 2010 North riders ... Leo, Howard, Shirley, Gary, Mark (and Susan), Don, Margo, Rick, and John (and Barb) ... you guys rock.  I also made new friendships ...  Chris, John A., Tracey, Russ, John D., CD, Mose, Phyllis, Char, Herb, Jim, Tim, and the Colorado crew (Rick, Denise, Alana, and Cindy).  I was moved and inspired by Tracey and Char. Last, but not least, a huge thank you to Mike and Barbara Munk, Karen Bauer, and Jim Benson.  Their dedication and support of our dream is second to none.  I continued to learn from them and enjoyed the chance to have more 1-1 time with each of them.

An Amazing Group ... Missing Mike & Barb (Courtesy of Mike Munk)
To keep true to my blog ... here is a recap of the day.  The day was 50 flat (with one 600 foot exception just south of Redondo Beach) miles -  I rode with Joe, Jeff, and Michael Louis (he rode with us in 2010 and joined us for the day) all day.  At times, we rode along side most of the other riders and enjoyed an easy going pace.  We spent almost half the day on quieter beach side bike paths and passed several marinas.  The day also included some busier, industrial areas.  I got my first flat in one of those sections about five miles before our SAG.  Redondo and Huntington beaches were particularly nice.

Early Morning Marina
Michael Louis (from 2010) Road With Us All Day
Jeff, Michael, and Me (Joe Took The Picture)
Joe Snapped Another One of Us Along A Beach Path

Karen Helped Me Make A Speedy Flat Change (Courtesy of Mike Munk)

Lots of Goodbyes at the SAG ... It Was Fun Mose (Courtesy of Mike Munk)
We arrived early, grabbed lunch, and then disassembled our bikes for our trip home tomorrow.  A relaxing dinner with the Geldings, Susan, and Gary capped off the day.  The stooges are together again for one more night before flying out tomorrow.  Our next trip beckons ... that one is TBD.  Thanks for following along.

Thanks Again Mike, Barb, Karen, and Jim

Last Dinner Out ... Mark Was Picture Taker

Good Night Joe
Good Night Moon ... Good Night Wife ... Good Night Son ... Good Night Daughter ... Good Night Stooges ... Good Night ABB Friends and Crew ... Good Night Ride The West

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ride The West - Day 22 - Oxnard, CA to Marina del Rey, CA

It was a great day along the coast through Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach.  Only 53 miles and a little less than 1300 feet of climbing -  I rode with Mark and Susan the whole day and really enjoyed our time together.  Leaving Oxnard we were on back roads past Missile Park before finding the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1).

Imagine My Speed With The Help of This Engine
Mark and Susan ... An Early Morning Sod Field
The ride along the Pacific Coast Highway was very scenic, but it required us to really be on our toes. A dedicated bike lane helped us stay away from the fast moving cars, but we had to watch closely for the parked ones carrying beach goers and surfers.  The water views, ocean side homes, and canyon side homes were amazing at every turn.  The road was flat with a few 100-200 foot risers that brought even better vistas.

Great Ocean Views
The Marks
Me and the Duchess
One Of The Many Amazing Malibu Homes
After a quick SAG at Point Dume Beach we headed past Pepperdine University.  Another 10 miles on the Pacific Coast Highway flew by and we made our way onto the beach bike path that would carry us all the way to Venice Beach.  The closer we got to Santa Monica the more crowded it got.  There were people everywhere.  The path was like dodgem cars in some spots.  Going under the Santa Monica pier a guy on tricycle (pulling a trailer no less) decided to abruptly do a U turn.  Susan and I missed him by "this much".

Getty Villa Museum
Santa Monica Pier and Ferris Wheel
The path got busier and busier as we made our way to Venice Beach.  The beach was filled with wall to wall shops, cafes, street vendors, and people ... it was a mad house.  Mark, Susan, and I moved over to the pedestrian path that ran directly in front of all the shops and vendors.  After surveying a few lunch spots we settled on one and had a nice meal watching all the action.

Venice Beach ... This Was A Quieter Section
Amazing People Watching
From there we headed to the hotel in Marina del Rey.  Mark and Susan were finally able to get an early room (with Barb's help) and headed off to meet some family for the afternoon.  I headed back to the beach and had a few drinks with Russ and Mose.  More great people watching.  I did not see as many bathing beauties as I expected, but I did see some of pigs friends (one was sitting in the sun a bit too long).

Bathing Hotties On Venice Beach
Dinner was at a local Italian restaurant.  Michael and Matt Louis from our 2010 ride stopped by to say hello.  Michael will ride with us tomorrow.  We ended the evening with a great photo show of some of Mike Munk's pictures and all got the chance to say our goodbyes and thank yous.  As expected, it was an emotional and laugh filled time.  I donned my mask one last time to recount my least favorite trip moment.  Tracey Bail was given the most inspirational rider and received the route map.  He sang and played a heart felt version of America the Beautiful on his guitar.  A great way to cap off a great ride.  The last day is upon us.  50 more miles to Newport Beach.

Michael Louis From 2010 Joined Us For Dinner With His Son Matt
Emotional End to a Great Night ... Tracey Was a Big Inspiration To Us All
Good Night Moon ... Good Night Venice Beach ... Good Night Crew ... Good Night Riders

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ride The West - Day 21 - Solvang, CA to Oxnard, CA

Today was our last long day (81 miles) and last big climb (total climbing of 3,700 feet; highest elevation of 2,200 feet).  Today's data - The other stooges like to push faster up the big climbs and were on a quest for an in out out burger.  I spent most of the day riding with Gary and also rode several sections with Leo, Tim, Don, and Jim  Major punch buggy sighting leaving Solvang.  Leah would have punched my arm big time!.

Old VW Show In Solvang

Another Tarantula Sighting

Views Leaving Solvang Along Highway 154
We had some warm up climbs as we headed past the Cachuma Recreation Area.  We turned off Highway 154 onto Stagecoach Road  As the name implies, Stagecoach Road was an old stagecoach route back in the 1860's through early 1900's.  It is home to the Cold Springs Tavern that dates back to 1868.  The road was the only way to get over San Marcos Pass until the Arc Bridge was built in 1963.  We had the road all to ourselves and Barb set up our first SAG just after the tavern.

Cachuma Recreation Area
Char ... We Got Some Climbing to Do
Char Leads Me Up The Climb (Courtesy of Mike Munk)
Cold Springs Tavern

View of Bridge After We Reached The Top
 Once we reached the top, the real fun began.  Our descent included a mile on Kinevan Road which was barely one lane and pretty rough.  There were rocks protruding into the road at times.  Speeds were pretty slow.  Next, we spent a few miles back on Highway 154 and hit speeds up to 40 mph.  The last part of the descent was incredible.  We traversed San Marcos Road all the way down to Santa Barbara.  It was 4 miles I will not soon forget.  The bank turns were like riding on a velodrome track.
Gary, Watch Out For That Rock (Courtesy of Mike Munk)
Great Group Shot Before The Big Descent - Chris, Leo, Gary, Me, Tim, John (Courtesy of Mike Munk)
Hairpin Turns Like No Other I Have Seen
Bank Turns ... Probably 30% Or So
We were in Santa Barbara before we knew it.  The fog prevented us from seeing a lot of the ocean views.  The beaches and town were full of people and shops.  We meandered on bike paths and local roads and passed the Santa Barbara Polo Club.  We were hungry for lunch, so we pushed on.  Several folks stopped to watch a match that was in progress.  We found a great deli in Summerland (Cantwells).  A bit pricey, but tasty.  I had a teryaki chicken wrap and a nice big chocolate milk.  The locals were a pretty nice sight (at least Don and Jim thought so).

Only Visible Shot in Santa Barbara
Gary Along One of the Nicer Stretches of Santa Barbara Homes
 We had a quick SAG in Carpinteria and then spent about 5 miles on 101 South.  There was a bike lane, but it was busy and cars were flying by us.  After getting back on the Pacific Coast Highway we had better views of the beach for awhile.  Our views were then obstructed for a few miles thanks to scores of trailers and motor homes that park along the road.  Mike Munk calls in the Redneck Riviera. We passed lots of surfers and I could have sworn I saw pig and some of his friends dressed like California dudes riding the waves.  Some more flat riding along ocean side bike paths had us in classic suburban California beach side communities.  It looked like the Brady Bunch could have lived here.

Cruising Along 101 South

Redneck Riviera
Like Wow Pig ... Ride Them Waves Dude
I Think Marsha Lived In One of These Houses
The roads really started to get busy as we pushed through Ventura and into Oxnard.  A big bump in the road just after the Oxnard marina jarred my hands off the handlebars.  I was able to maintain control.  We finally pulled into the the hotel and found a very slow check in process followed by a room change (they gave me and Leo a single King size bed at first ... I like him, but not that much).

Oxnard Marina ... Hold On To Those Bars!

Good Night Moon ... Good Night Hairpin Turns ... Good Night Gary ... Good Nights RVs. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ride The West - Day 20 - Santa Maria, CA to Solvang, CA

After yesterday's long 85 mile day, the route sheet for today was certainly welcomed.  A mere 40 miles and only 2,100 feet of climbing ... what we call a rolling rest day.  It gave us a chance to ride easier, stop at some wineries, and enjoy the Scandinavian town of Solvang.  It was 60 degrees at departure and I rode without legs (warmers that is) for the first time this trip.  By the SAG stop at the Hermanos Winery, I would shed my under armour and vest too.  I rode with Mark and Susan until the SAG.

The Duchess Feeds Her Man Some Grapes
Lots More Vineyards On The Road Today (Peppers and Strawberries Too)
A Tarantula Sighting ... "They Jump Ya Know"
The day's climbing looks more intense on the Garmin data (see, but it was a nice gradual day with the exception of a few steeper sections.  From the SAG, it was a day for the stooges to have some fun.

Today's Episode ... "The Stooges Go Tasting"
Commemorative Wine Glasses Available For Purchase At
Our first visit was at the Fess Parker Winery.  Trivia time ... Fess passed away a few years ago and played Davy Crockett on TV.  Davy and I share the same birthday.  Mark and Susan joined us and we were were able to sample one wine for free.  Typically, the wineries offer a sampling of 4-5 wines for around $10.  I sampled the Parker Family Reserve which was a tasty blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Marsanne, and Riesling.  It had a nice fruity aroma (little bit of peach, mango, and apricot) and good acidity.
Stop Number 1 On Our Tour - Fess Parker
Jack Educates Susan, Mark, Jeff, and Joe On Today's Wines
Good Wine ... Bad Hair ... Fess Pictures In The Background
From there, we headed to the Curtis Winery.  At first we thought it was closed, but Joe inquired and actually flipped the sign from closed to open.  Nancy was our server and poured me a glass of 2009  Syrah from Crossroads Vineyard.  I really like Syrahs.  This one had a nice berry (raspberry and blueberry) aroma, classic tannins, and a strong linger of acidity.

Stop #2 - Curtis Winery
Joe and Jeff Sample a White and a Red
Curtis' Barrel Room
Great View (Again, Bad Hair) From Curtis' Lot
The stooges really wanted to stop at Firestone as well.  We learned it was only a couple miles out of the way, so we went off the cue sheet a bit and climbed the Firestone driveway to finish our trifecta.  The server (never got his name) was not quite as accommodating as our previous two visits.  He insisted we purchase a sample package even though we explained we could not drink more than one glass given we were on our bikes.  We graciously passed ... Joe vowed to never buy from them again. LOL.

No Freebies For The Stooges At Firestone
Heading back on route, we made our last climbs of the day and then descended to Solvang. The scenery continued to impress.  Solvang is a touristy town that offers a taste of Denmark including numerous bakeries, restaurants, and shops.  The architecture reflects traditional Danish style.  There are statues of the Little Mermaid (a copy of the one from Copenhagen) and Danish author Hans Christian Anderson.  I snapped a classic town photo of the horse drawn trolley in front of the town's replica of Copenhagen's Round Tower (Rundetarn).  We had a Danish smorgasbord for dinner that was not so great (although others seemed to like it).

Descending The Vineyards Into Solvang
Jeff Points Out The Danish Windmill

This Shot Epitomizes The Town
Strolling the shops was fun.  Char and I found a neat hat store that really had me thinking about pig and all the support he has provided me the past few years. Leo found a great cigar store and came home with a whopper of a stogie.  Our last big climb (almost 2,300 feet in elevation) and another 81 miles await us tomorrow.

A Striking Resemblance?
I Am Tonight's Pig Reference ... Thanks Cathy
Good Night Moon ... Good Night Stooges ... Good Night Wine ... Good Night Denmark ... Good Night Wife, Daughter, and Son