Archive for the 'Biking' Category

May 03 2006

Ride Across California – Day 4

For me, this was the hardest day. We’re all sore from three days of riding, and the prospect of sitting in a bike again all day just was not a thrill. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do…

Here’s how today started:

And it went on like that for 15 miles, with a killer headwind, for 4 hours. Headwinds are just nasty. They kept our forward pace to 3-5 miles per hour and just wore us out. We kept hearing that the turn on to Route 78 would put the wind more at our backs, so that kept us going.

I don’t have many pictures from this leg of the race as I was too miserable to take any, my battery on the little camera had died, and Elaine was out wandering the desert taking pictures of flora and fauna:

That’s another ocotillo in bloom. Here’s a teddy bear cactus:

Here’s our team of riders on that day:

Erin’s apparently flashing some sort of gang sign. Make a note to look into elementary school gang activity… Hailley’s dad, Damon, joined us this day and we all stuck together for most of the rest of the ride. Here we cross the San Diego County Line:

Erin and I stop to soak up the view of the nuclear devestation the Carrizo Badlands:

By the time we got to lunch, Erin was still in good spirits:

And I was about done:

But there’s nothing like a dry, white sandwich to perk me back up:

I LOVE what that helmet does to my hair. I’d wear it everyday if it would fit into the headroom of the car.

Our next destination was Agua Caliente, which is Spanish for “Crowded Pool”:

We’d taken so long getting across the desert that the pool was just about to close when we arrived. Erin said, “Oh yeah, this is just about the best 5 minutes of my life.” I think she was being sarcastic, but she’s very subtle, like her dad, so it was hard to tell…

Then it was back on the bikes for a few more miles to Vallecito:

Which apparently has a stagecoach house museum thing, which Elaine thought to take pictures of and which I didn’t even notice because I was so tired I wanted to die:

Elaine got a neat shot of the sunset and an ocotillo:

I’m sure someone has a picture of Plaster City. This is my main memory of that day, riding in the blistering heat (95-100F) and avoiding the huge drywall trucks coming and going to the factory there.

For more pictures from Day 4, click here.

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Apr 25 2006

Ride Across California – Fox News Video Link

Fox News was at the beach when we arrived. Here’s the link:

Video –

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Apr 25 2006

Ride Across California – Day 3

Wednesday was designed to be an easy day to rest up from the 54 miles the day before, and get us ready for the trek across the desert on Thursday.

The Imperial Valley is flat and lush, lined with irrigation ditches. Most of the fields we passed by were for making hay:

Here is a chase team who cheered us on for the whole ride. They had the greatest energy!

We got to El Centro pretty quickly, and I got some pictures of its beauty:

Ok, there’s not much in El Centro… But, they do have a pool! Our Pit Boss, Gary, is a Navy Seal or something, and he broke us onto the El Centro Navy Air Facility to use the pool. It was tough cutting the barbed wire and drugging the dogs, and I’m sure the guards we subdued will all be just fine. Thankfully, once you penetrate the perimeter of the base, they let you take pictures:

This plane has its engine removed, or I would have taken it for a spin.

Here are Hailey, Divia, and Erin:

Erin has fun in the pool, and Divia gives me the stinkeye for yelling at her all the time:


These poor people didn’t know what hit them. It was like Caddy Day at the pool in “Caddyshack.” Minus the Baby Ruth.

Here’s where the parents hung out, under the awning, or in the hot tub in the back of the picture. I spent some time there myself. When I told Erin that I met one of her friends’ Dads in the hot tub, her reply was, “That’s awkward. You met some guy in a hot tub.” If you know me at all, I never let anything go, so “awkward” was the watchword for the rest of the trip. Erin’s still not talking to me…

After a few hours at the pool, we had about 5 miles of easy riding to the next school to camp. Or to park my bike then get a ride to the El Centro Ramada. I believe I’ve made my feelings about camping known….

We did hang around the school for quite a while, because they have a merry-go-round. I remember we had these torture implementations on the play ground when I was a kid, but they have been banned for a long time. I guess country kids are just tougher, or more expendable. I went to take a picture of Erin on the ride, and she said, “I can’t look up or I’ll barf!!!” Good times!

We had dinner, settled the bikes in with the Blackmans, then walked to the campfire. As I passed through the dining area, I sniffed the distinctive odor of clay chips, and, sure enough, there was a Texas Holdem poker game about to start. I firmly lectured the group of men about to play about the immorality of cards, then noticed they had a spot open. While Elaine and Erin went to the campfire, I almost went bust, then fought back to about double my original chip stack. Elaine walked back from the campfire and said she’d wait in the car, so I kept going All In to bust out and get to a real bed at the Ramada. Sadly, I kept winning, so eventually I gave my chips to a guy who had already been busted out. It was almost the perfect poker game. I didn’t lose, and all night I had the hope that I won! I didn’t. John went all in on a straight, and lost to a flush. At least that’s the story I got from all the guys the next day… 🙂

Click here for more pictures from Day 3.

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Apr 24 2006

Ride Across California GPS Based Google Map

I made some maps earlier based on the chase drivers maps. This map comes directly from the tracks files from a GPS one of the Dads had on the ride, so it is totally accurate.

Here are the data files so you can play with them yourselves:

KMZ File – works with Google Earth
GPX File – GPS eXchange Format
GDB File – the base Garmin DataBase that came from the device

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Apr 24 2006

Ride Across California Elevation Chart

I received great GPS data from some of the guys who had devices on the ride. I was able to make elevation charts. Someone with more patience can figure out our total climb. Here’s the whole 267 mile ride as one chart (note that the scale changes on the Day charts, so they are not directly comparable):

Day 1 – River to Gold Rock Ranch:

Day 2 – Gold Rock Ranch, across the Dunes, to Pine School:

Day 3 – Pine School to the El Centro pool, to Westside School:

Day 4 – Westside School, through Plaster City, to Vallecito Camp Ground:

Day 5 – Vallecito, up Banner Grade, to Julian and Spencer Valley School:

Day 6 – Spencer Valley School, through Black Canyon, to San Pasqual School:

Day 7 – San Pasqual, to yummy breakfast, to the coast!

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Apr 24 2006

Ride Across California Flickr Pictures

It’s going to take me a while to get all the days written up.

Here is a link to all of my pictures on Flickr. 

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Apr 23 2006

Ride Across California – Day 2

The desert winds whipped the tent around all night, and the light pole right above our tent made it seem that it was morning all night. Sleep was fitful at best, mostly nonexistent. I’m so happy that Elaine arranged hotels for some of our future night stays.

ONE of us had a good night’s sleep:

Nathan got to sleep in the van, which was less susceptible to violent winds.

There was one working bathroom in the offices, so I thought I’d be clever and get up before Gary, the Pitt Boss, had revelry go off at 6am. Sadly, everyone else had this idea, so there was a line anyway. We all stumbled around, found bushes to water, then got in line for breakfast.

Here are the dead bathrooms, on the left:

The ocotillo is in full bloom, so I got a picture of one by our tent. My mother in law assumes all flower pictures I take are for her since she’s way into flowers and plants, and I’m happy letting her think that 🙂

Food was prepared for us at every stop. Breakfast was usually eggs and some bread substance.

This is Hailey, one of Erin’s classmates. Her Dad had to work until Thursday, so she hung out with me and Erin on the roads.

We were told over and over again that the kids were not to be riding alone, and it really mattered. The 153 riders could be spaced out over 10+ miles of distance, so a kid could possibly wander off the road and get lost. There were chase vehicles every 2 miles or so, offering water and great moral support. They did a pretty good job of grabbing orphaned children and hooking them up with adults. I do admit that one of the hardest parts of the ride for me was slowing my pace to stay with my daughter and her buddies, but I got it into my head that this was a ride, not a race. Staying together, despite the pain it causes and extra time it took, was more important than getting ahead.

Elaine and Nathan had to run back to San Diego, so we didn’t get a lot of pictures on this day. I’m hoping to collect pictures from the other families to fill in the gaps. The ride itself was very difficult. We had strong headwinds the first 15 miles which took us 4 hours to cover. Once we got to the 78, we had more of a tail wind and covered a lot of distance. One of the most striking features of the ride was crossing the Dunes on 78. It’s a comic book version of a desert, with long mounds of tan sand drifting across the distance. We saw a snow plow used to keep the drifts back from the highway.

After 54.22 miles, Erin made it to Pine School.

Erin was just awesome! She got her pace and just moseyed herself across the desert. I was keeping an eye on some stragglers, so Erin would often get ahead of us. This was a little scary for me, but the chase drivers were great about making sure everyone was ok. Erin did a lot of training with me for this ride, so she knew how to be safe and maintain a pace. I am so proud of her!

I arrived shortly after with Divia, one of Erin’s buddies:

This was a really hard day. It turns out it wasn’t the hardest.

Click here for more pictures from Day 2.

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Apr 20 2006

Ride Across California – Day 1

We started at the Colorado River at the border of AZ and CA by Yuma. Everyone had to put their back wheel in the water:

As you can see, I’m well carbed up for the ride. If you are mean, you are making bosoms jokes about my picture right now. I know I would be. It was the light. Or maybe 40 years of Oreos. Thankfully, we were equipped with BMD (Bosom Masking Devices) to spare people looking at pictures on the web:

There was one celebrity there to see us off, Starsky from TV’s “Starsky & Hutch:”

Here’s the obligatory colorful-riders-all-in-a-row picture. I photoshopped in an attack helicopter and Starsk’s departure to make it more interesting:

Actually, the helicopter was real. I guess it’s pretty boring out in the desert, so if you have a helicopter it’s fun to buzz 150 bike riders (kids and adults).

And we’re OFF!

Actually, that’s not me and Erin. I’ve got some quality control issues with our photographer, but I’ll take it out of her bonus.

What followed was about 25 miles of this:

The first 2.5 miles were on soft sand. I was very happy to be on my wide tires and not the road bike. There are a few riders with road bikes, but they had done the ride before and knew to just carry the bike on this stretch. Even with the wide tires, we had to work hard to get through, and were glad to see pavement. One highlight of this section was pushing the leader of the chase vehicles, Gary (in the vest):

and his cool Tacoma out of the sand. You can tell when people didn’t grow up getting cars out of snowdrifts… 🙂

Our support team went on ahead and set up camp:

Three hours later, we came to the turn off for Gold Rock Ranch, our first stop. Of course, it’s a mile off the road, on another stretch of sand. Just the thing to get us hungry for the spaghetti dinner at the other end. In Illinois, someone would have put down a layer of oil and made a proper surface with the road, but the desert is run by hippies who wouldn’t think that was cool. Of course, these hippies all have dune buggies and dirt bikes, so I think they have a hidden agenda.

After dinner I grabbed a shower for a dollar – had to have quarters… Thanks to the support team I was set. Luckily I took one early, because someone flushed a towel down a toilet and the whole plumbing system went nuts and they had to shut down the bathrooms. That left 200 people with one bathroom in the main office building. Camping is fun!

Next, there was a campfire where we burned the slowest child on the ride and his spirit was released to the heavens:

Seemed a little harsh to me, but hey, it’s the desert, man. Things are tough out here.

I had fun with the campfire light:

Then we raved til dawn. It’s pretty much the same as Burning Man.

Click here for more pictures from Day 1.

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Apr 18 2006

Camping is stupid

Rode 30

15% sand

Gusty winds

Sand everywhere

200 people

1 bathroom

Mythical sleep

Get up

Ride 54

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Apr 16 2006

Ride Across California Map Geeking

If you’re new to this site, I’m a map geek. Combining this sickness with next week’s RAC, below are some views of way too much time spent in Google Earth.

If you are interested in seeing the source files and playing with the maps yourself, download the free Google Earth here, then grab all the .kmz files.

Here’s an overview of the whole ride. Each color is a different day:

Here are the individual days:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

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