Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 2 - Long ride to Blythe. Super hot, but the 133 miles to get here are in the books! It got up into the high 80's and the temperature off the road (we spent much of it on the shoulder of I-10) was listed at 110. Ice packs on our necks while we ride and lots of water and food support was the only thing to get us through today. Although I move them around constantly, I've got numb ring and pinky finger tips, otherwise I'm super tired, but in very good shape. Double dinners and tomorrow we cross into Arizona and the town of Wickenburg.
THANK YOU for the incredible support you send me and the surge of donation support today! I am moved beyond words.
*The photos are from: This morning leaving Palm Springs, Box Canyon, some of the roads we ride on and what came out of the pockets of my jersey at the end of todays ride.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

*The following entry was copied from the entry I made on my ride page on facebook. I'll try and make them a little different going forward with no promise. :)))

** Also, THANK YOU for all of your support in all of the many forms you've shared with me. I am so grateful.

Day 1 is finally in the books. Phew!! I'll back up for just a sec. Day 0 (yesterday) was filled with orientation meetings, getting to know my fellow riders, meeting my roommate (Really great, 20-something Marius from Norway who i found out today is a complete animal on a bike). Alot of the pre-ride jitters were quickly erased after initially sizing up the crowd and meeting the staff, who were all terrific too. (Mike, Jim, Karen and Judy who you will hear me reference over the next month). Quite an amazing collection of riders - 16, 11 are going all the way - 5 are going to New Mexico and then heading home. Riders are from UK, Australia, Norway, and from 'home' MA, VA, FL, and CA, to name a few.
Today - Day 1: A mix of heat in the high 80's zapped a lot of everyone's energy, mine included.

 Lunch was around mile 60 which was very welcomed. Mile 90 after riding the last 10 (and eventually the last 40 solo), and taking a full break and a terrific tail wind I had a second wind which really turned the afternoon around for me. The day was filled on bike paths, city streets, country roads and...the Interstate, which is where I had my first flat at about mile 91. (btw: the amount of crap on the side of the road is brutal to weave through.) Thankful there was a big, shaded tree way off the shoulder to change out the tire.
 I had another one just 1.7 miles from the hotel in Palm Springs and there was no way I was going to get picked up by the staff, being that close and walking in wasn't going to happen either - so another tube change and bingo - 121 miles were mine.
 I rider left the road early not feeling well and I was the only one w/ 'issues' w/ flats. Oh, well. I'll put on a fresh tire and tube before heading out tomorrow and it'll be fine. Tomorrow is 133 miles to Blythe and we can leave as early as 6:15...Oh, boy!!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Day 0!
Today we check in, make sure our bikes are in perfect shape, attend orientation and safety meetings, meet the support crew, fellow riders, roommates, do all of the last minute things to get ready for the take off tomorrow morning.
I will be pedaling across the US with a 2015 Specialized Roubaix Comp SL4, with a Ksyrium SLS wheelset. On-bike gear includes bags for tools, sunscreen, ID, $$, tubes, food, phone, bike computer, Go Pro, water bottles, pump, cue sheet clip and lights. At first I wasn't completely sold on the colors but quickly realized they are perfect. The blue represents the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean and the steel gray represents all of the roadway in between!! I love this bike. I guess I'd better, right?!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My most epic ride ever. Riding with America by Bicycle ( Leaving from Costa Mesa, CA on April 19th and arriving into Amesbury, MA on May 21st. 33 days. 3450 miles.
A really important organization that I've decided to ride for and that I have a personal connection to is Gender Spectrum.

To learn more about Gender Spectrum, click on the tab above. To learn more about my connection to Gender Spectrum and the fundraising page I've created for them, click on the 'Tad's Be Your Best Self...' tab above.

This is the adventure! One day at a time, one pedal at a time.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Rediscovering the Golden State - A memorable ride from September 2013...

I have always enjoyed bicycling for lots of reasons. From the health benefits, being outdoors, self-reliance, peace of mind and the simple freedom and fun that pedaling a bike gives me.
When an old college buddy (and big bicycling enthusiast) from St. Louis, MO, recently came to visit Northern California for the first time, I had the chance to rediscover and share the beauty of the state. Our plan was to ride our bikes during the 5-day window we had over as much of what I proposed to be the best of the best bicycling that defined California and the California Coast. We had hoped to include: Mt. Tamalpais, Big Sur, Lake Tahoe and the Wine Country. The plan was a tall order physically given our available time, but an exciting adventure, a chance at renewing a great friendship and an opportunity to see the Golden State from a different perspective – a bicycle.
Getting into town Saturday night, we quickly visited many San Francisco sight-seeing favorites: Lombard Street, Coit Tower, downtown, the Embarcadero and listening to the ‘singing seals’ at Pier 39.

Sunday morning we parked at the Presidio’s Sports Basement, picked up his great rental bike (Cannondale CAAD10 5 105), unpacked my Bianchi Imola from the car and began our bicycle adventure on what was an absolutely perfect weather day in the Bay Area.

We immediately climbed up and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (west side on the weekends) and then climbed up again into the Marin Headlands to enjoy amazing views looking back over the bridge into the city. This view never gets old. Returning back over the bridge, sharing the path with lots and lots of fellow bicyclists, we carefully disassembled the bikes enough to get them both, with all of our gear for the next 5 days, comfortably inside my car. By noon we were in Stinson Beach, climbing Pan Toll to Mt. Tamalpais and along Ridgecrest with views of the Stinson Beach/ Bolinas Bay coastline. A challenging ride but worth every last grinding pedal for the scenery and views. Pan Toll is very curvy and lined with redwood trees and fern and Ridgecrest Blvd., which feels more like an exaggerated bike path, is used in many car commercials because of its fantastic location, panoramic views and swerving road pattern. Total ascent was close to 2000 feet and took about 2 ½ hours to complete. A true California Delicious moment came afterwards with a stop at In-N-Out in Mill Valley before heading to the Monterey/ Carmel area.

Once in Monterey, we stayed at the Monterey Plaza Hotel, an incredibly beautiful hotel on the water, in the middle of the action in Monterey – seconds from the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium in one direction and Cannery Row in the other. Hearty meals were enjoyed at Monterey’s Cannery Row Brewing Company.

Everything I had read about riding a bike down the Big Sur coast warned you about the lack of shoulder to ride on, the size (RVs!) and speed of the cars on the two-lane highway you’d be sharing the road with and the physical climbs, descents and wind that would all be a constant part of your ride. To answer the question if what I read was correct? Yes! Check, check and check to all of it. You had to stay very focused for all the reasons listed above but especially because the wind swirls, so crossing bridges and coming around bends is very unpredictable as the wind gusts. As challenging as it was on a bike, it was equally as dramatic in the views and natural beauty that the coastline offered.

It was so dramatic and so beautiful. Just when we thought we’d see the best angle or view of the coastline, we’d ride a little further and there would be an even more impressive sight to be seen. One of the many highlights going down the coast was crossing the Bixby Bridge. It is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world and one of the most photographed bridges on the west coast due to its design and scenic location. The River Inn and general store, located inside the Anthony Molera State Park – about 25 miles from the south end of Carmel was a much needed and appreciated rest stop for us, as well for a couple bicycle touring groups and vacationers we met while there. Out of reach for us on our ride, but worth the trip further down the coast would have been Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Total miles covered on the Big Sur coast was 50 miles.

Tuesday was a light day in comparison. We first biked to Pebble Beach, entering 17-mile drive from the Carmel-by the Sea side. This is recommended so you aren’t competing with the tour buses and traffic. After marveling at the spectacle of several holes and the clubhouse at Pebble Beach, we cycled by the Lone Cypress, The Links at Spanish Bay, Cypress Point Lookout and Carmel Bay. Looping back around to the very quaint downtown area of Carmel. Big Sur and the Monterey/ Carmel peninsula were truly magical. A must-do location whether by bike or automobile.

We packed up for the 5-hour drive up to Truckee, which is just a few miles from Lake Tahoe. Once in Truckee, we had a delicious, family-favorite, dinner at Village Pizzeria.

Riding around the United State’s second deepest (and maybe most beautiful) lake is a 72-mile adventure. Of course there is the constant natural beauty, little traffic, some very good climbs and descents and all of the little changes in location and appearance from town to town – Nevada side/ California side as you circle the lake. It’s highly recommended to ride around the lake clockwise so that you have the lake at your side the whole time and also recommended to start your ride in Incline Village, NV to help get through higher climbs earlier in your ride and to minimize traffic through busier parts of the day as you go through South Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay, Tahoma, Homewood, Tahoe City, Kings Beach and Incline Village. Riding on a non-weekend day was beneficial too. Although we started our ride at 28 degrees (8:30am) it warmed up into the mid 60’s by the middle of the afternoon. All of it was great riding filled with incredible views. A little more than seven hours later (lunch in Sunnyside), we proudly joined the fraternity of fellow riders that have circled the lake by bike. The Emerald Bay climb out of South Lake wasn’t as bad as I thought and the stretch from Tahoe City to Kings Beach was longer than I thought.

Thursday was our last riding day and when we got to the Napa Valley town of Yountville in the early afternoon, it was 86 degrees with not a cloud in the sky.

After stopping in for a map and some riding suggestions from the very helpful people at Napa Valley Bike Tours, we raced out to the Silverado Trail and up to the very comfortable grounds at V. Sattui winery in St. Helena and then on to Velo Vino (Clif Family Winery), which, especially if you are fan of bicycling, is a great little stop. Their friendly retail/tasting room pays great respect to the passions of bicycling, food and wine. We finished our ride with stops at the Robert Mondavi Winery and the incredible Silver Oak Cellars winery. The wine country in California is a treasured place, filled with great wines, beautiful wineries and some incredible restaurants. Total distance in the wine country, 30 miles.
Total for the 5 days: 194 miles.

Five days of all-out riding through head-shakingly-gorgeous parts of California, accented by the chance to experience it by bicycle and shared with a great friend made for a very, very memorable time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 7 - We made it to Los Angeles!

Day 7. The day and particular ride we all had worked so hard toward was here. We're riding into Los Angeles today. A little bitter sweet, but exciting just the same. There was a veteran rider that brought much joy and happiness to everyone during the week his name:  Chicken Lady. Getting to our bikes, rubberbanded to the top of our seats were plastic eggs with a message and LifeSaver inside. The message, a simple one, was a perfect note at a perfect time as we got on our bikes for the final day of ALC 10. Thank you Chicken Lady.

Missile Park, Point Mugu
We were told it was going to be an especially challenging 60 mile ride because we were riding out of Ventura and through Malibu on a Saturday which meant lots of parked cars with doors opening by the beach and people everywhere. The road didn't offer much of a shoulder for much of the ride into Santa Monica but did provide plenty of beautiful vistas by unbelievable properties that line the PCH through Malibu and into L.A.

Lunch was across the street from Pepperdine University on the Malibu Bluffs, which made for a nice final break before cycling into the city.
Almost there!
I happily coordinated to meet my wife and sister-in-law along the route on San Vicente with just a few miles to go. As we closed in on the VA Center, more and more people met us along the road until a roaring crowd met us as we entered the Center grounds. Coming around the final turn and into the grounds, I felt a great sense of relief and satisfaction. My 2002 Bianchi Imola had made it and so had I. Phew!

Neil Giuliano (CEO SF), Lorri Jean (CEO LA) and Jane Lynch (Actress)
The final riding total was listed at 550.1 miles. 7 Days. Around 2300 riders, around 550 roadie/support personnel. Oldest participant: 83 years old, youngest, 18. 41 States represented. 11 countries represented. Average calories burned by riders: 3,410. These are the real numbers: 1.7 million people are currently living with HIV/ AIDS nationwide and 33.3 million people are currently liviing with HIV/AIDS worldwide. My $3775.75 fund raising is part of this year's record $13 million raised from ALC 10, to which I am proud. To my financial supporters, thank you, to all of my supporters, thank you.
It wasn't until later Saturday night that I turned to my wife, realizing and then sharing "I just rode my BIKE to Los Angeles, my BIKE!" and the last 7 days had finally begun to hit me. The days ahead I am sure the impact of this experience will hit harder than now. Exhausted, I was grateful for a very nice welcoming dinner at my in-laws home with family and friends.

There are SO many more memories and thoughts and feelings that made up the last 7 days. Bicycling was really, believe it or not, a small part of the whole experience. With time, the bike part will actually play second fiddle to the event, the community of people and new friends I made along the way and the great many moments of reflection I experienced while bicycling as Rider 6145 every mile of every pedal at a time.
Rider 6145 and his bike!
With love, Tad

Day 6 - Back in the saddle and feeling great - Lompoc to Ventura

Day 6. As my tentmate, Neil, explained to me, we all have off days. To sustain 7 consecutive 'good day' rides, is really hard. To get through some of the down moments/ days you have to develop a kind of short-term memory loss and keep the task at hand your foremost thought. Stay in the present. Yesterday was just that - yesterday. Friday's ride took us from Lompoc to Ventura. It was 85 miles that had a little of everything. Paths, roads, highway. A pretty flat day w/ some nice tailwinds. I felt a renewed sense of accomplishment. There was a buzz in the air when we saw the ocean again, nearing Ventura, that we were getting into Los Angeles the next day. Along with living completely in the present, you have the chance to enjoy as much of where you are on the course as possible, not thinking of yesterday or tomorrow. Today we had 2 rest stops before lunch, which came at the 47 mile mark and then 2 more rest stops and a water break before getting into Ventura's San Buenaventura State Beach at mile 85. A highlight was the 'Paradise Pit' at a park in Santa Barbara - a declared Cliff Bar/ PowerAde free zone, it offered sundaes, cookies,etc. It was a true oasis!

Almost all of the riding on the entire trip is done in single-file, so much of your daytime conversations while riding are done during very slow passes of fellow riders or at intersection stops/ delays as we wait for clear roads to cross. There is ALOT of communicating between riders while on each day's ride. "Passing on your left rider - thank you," "On your left." "Slowing." "Stopping". "Rolling." "Car back." "Car up." "Car left." Car right." During the morning there are a lot of "Passing on your left, good morning." With the cordial response back, "Thank you, good morning."  It was as if 2300 people had just completed finishing school and decided to take a bike ride to celebrate the class graduation. Kidding aside, all of the hand gestures, constant yelling communications was essential to the success of every day's ride, I'm certain of it. At the end of the day during announcements, an accounting of how 'safe' the day was is share. "Today we had a very safe day, only 4 people went to the hosptial." Of course I'm thinking, "What the hell happened to these four people?" Did they not hear that a car was coming or that the road had sand on it or there was a pothole or debri in the way? As I learned on Day 5, anything can happen at any single moment along the way.
Santa Barbara merchants hosted an incredible "Paradise Pit" break for us. A Cliff bar and PowerAde free zone!

Dinner /Announcement Tent
Back to Day 5 for second...I ran into rider 5759 at camp today. He had 7 stitches to this face under his nose, chipped his front two teeth, had some scrapes on his face and...he was back on the road riding! Now, that's the spirit. He didn't completely remember what happened, so after explaining what I saw, I told him how relieved I was that he was ok and back at it. He was planning to ride partial days but wasn't giving up. Again, it was another reminder that it really wasn't about the actual ride, but about WHY we were riding. I've met a lot of people riding and am constantly reminded and inspired by what has so many different kinds of athletic, social, culturally diverse people riding the same ride, all for their own personal and public reasons. It is a very interesting dynamic of 2300 people doing the same thing - essentially by themselves.

Friday night in camp after the nightly announcements, there was a candle light vigil that led everyone participating from the dinner tents out to the beach. Friends and family of riders and roadies were invited to be part of this as well, as the path out to the beach was outlined by volunteers holding glow sticks. We helped light each others candles and silently walked out to the beach, making a circle, several people deep, that stretched far down the shore. Many minutes passed before everyone had assembled on the beach. Candles raised to the star-filled sky, brought back down and then brought out silently to the surf to be extinguished. This was absolutely amazing with 2000 + people, sharing silent moments of reflection, thanks, prayer and peace. Even though I had rode almost 500 miles to that point, my thoughts had nothing to do with bicycling. They were solely focused on my own family and friends and how incredible they are and how lucky I am to have them in my life, on the people and families directly assisted by the services that the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center provide and how fortunate I WAS to be able to be part of all of this.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 5 - Crash and burn. Tough day. Looking forward to Day 6.

A group stretching in the morning before their ride.

Day 5. Things can change on a dime. Four days in. Rides of 85, 107, 66 and 97 miles. Today was the shortest ride day - 40 miles from Santa Maria to Lompoc. Day 5 is "Red Dress Day" on the ride. All riders are encouraged to ride in our AIDS awareness red best, whatever that means to you. There was a lot of primping and posing, smiles, laughter and general good-natured compliments everywhere, toward everyone. To see a single line of red-dressed cyclists as far as you can see was quite a sight.

There was going to be a few climbs at mile 18 and mile 24, but how bad could it be and in total 40 miles. I think I backed off my focus just a little. Didn't drink enough, didn't eat enough. We barely were on our way and at mile 4 a rider right in front of me and another rider (Stuart from Glasgow, Scotland), caught the side edge of his front tire on the side of a raised part of the road on the shoulder, tried redirecting the bike, but lost control of it and spilled hard. I called the emergency services number written on the wristband we wore the whole week, while Stuart tried attending to him. Help came almost immediately and we had to trudge on. I just remember his number was 5759. I hoped we was going to be ok. Stuart and I stopped for coffee to clear our heads, before digging back into the day. No matter where you were or how you were feeling, everyone was encouraging, helping, praising, complimenting and thanking their fellow riders (and roadies) for their efforts, however small or large. If you rode by someone on the side of the road, you'd make sure they were ok before continuing on. People helping people all the time, all day long. The amount of support on the road (and in camp) was second to none.
Lots of weather changes and a couple tough climbs picked at me all day. We all have great days and less than great days. Today was a less than great day for me, but one thing is for sure out here is that you have to have short term memory loss. You work toward the next rest stop, the next break and eventually the ride for the day is over. Tomorrow is an 80+ miler that should be a beautiful day from Lompoc to Ventura through Santa Barbara. Tomorrow I will wake w/ the task at hand, planning to enjoy every pedal of every mile of every moment I'm riding and enjoy the rest stops I'm breaking in. I'm planning on it being that easy. I hope it is.