Day 9 - Kettleman City to Fresno. After three days of well deserved rest we departed from Kettleman City across the flat lands. Sure, thinking ahead it was flat, but what we didn't prepare for was the intense sun beating down upon our backs. The temperature got up there in the 90's which was a wake up call for how diverse this ride was from the coastal Route 1. Highway 41 had it's so called nickname of Blood Alley for a reason. Just because we are biking it should not permit the drivers to fall into the sense of being on the autobahn but we aren't that lucky. Once the shoulder began to dissipate we pulled off onto a farm road which went parallel to Highway 41. They brought us a good 25 miles up until we hit the outskirts of the thriving city of Fresno. Fresno lies in northern Mexico as an uncle of mine says from time to time. It was in the upper ninety's and we were ready to get out of the heat so we pulled into our hotel and enjoyed the air conditioning.
Day 10 - Fresno to Oakhurst. Leaving in the early morning the bustling city was just awakening. Riding our best ten miles of the trip we were able to reach the Friant Dam in great time. From there was another story. The foothills on road 211 were starting to be warmed up and they were relentless. Up to a point where it evened out when we merged with 220. Sadly our climbing wasnt over because we hit a stretch that the locals call Walkers Grade for its steep uphill over 5 miles. Then we took a break from the sun at the Shell Gas Station where we were told its only one more hill and a long downhill into Oakhurst. I can't imagine the ethics of what they meant of one more hill since it was another 5 miles uphill before we fell 1500 ft into Oakhurst just south of Yosemite National Park on Highway 41. That night we had a fun night on the town with Jeff Duncan who drove up from Fresno to spend time with us.
Day 11 - Oakhurst to Wawona. Enjoying a large breakfast at a local diner was the start to a long day. We were well aware of the climb the stared down upon us and we had to convince ourselves not to take a bus up. Not much is to say about today other than climbing more that 3000 ft along a busy highway while taking many breathers on the plentiful turnouts. At the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pines Railroad we stopped and had lunch before we completed the remainder of the climb to the South Gate of Yosemite. Then to end the day we dropped over 2000 ft into Wawona for the night which we did in 20 minutes visa several hours under the sun.
Day 12 - Wawona to Crane Flat Campground. Consequently due to our 20 minute downhill we lost our high status in elevation and we did not want another day of slow climbing with the weight our bikes withhold. We decided that it would be best to get a lift into the Valley so that we could have the right amount of time to take in the scenery, for it was my first time in the Park. Taking a gamble on the shuttle from the hotel into the Valley was assured by several rangers that we'd have no problem and get into the Valley before 10. However, with the shuttle departing at 8:30 we were risking the entire day since we needed to climb into the Valley and climb out of it on the Northern Rim. Our luck was our downfall because there needed to be a van full of people show up and a grumpy driver who refused to take us with the bikes. Walking the bikes from the steps of the hotel to the gas station we ran into three guys and an empty pick up truck. They were the caterers for the firemen working on a control fire close to the Ski Area that branched off the main route about half way to the Valley. Deon, Kevin, and Tony were happy to give us a ride. Deon was from Chicago and Kevin and Tony were both from around Tucson, Arizona. Once we approached the road they were going to turn off on to the Ski Area Deon just pulled by and said, "No, no. We're taking you all the way but the meter's still running." the entire time he had us in tears from laughing at all his jokes. Some included the actual thought of biking that road into the Valley. "I'm not racist, but this sounds like something a white guy would do." We reached our destination in an hour drive and unloaded our bikes and thanked them for basically our lives. From there we took our time and biked around the entire Yosemite Valley taking in the incredible sights. From there we climbed for over four hours until we reached the Crane Flat Campground.
Day 13 - Crane Flat Campground to High Sierra Park. One of the most memorable days for the ride itself instead of the overwhelming imagery surrounding us. It started off looking like a bad day with two small hills leaving the Campground since we were sore from the past three days of climbing. However, once we got to the top of the second it was a never ending downhill for an hour and 45 minutes. Smooth sailing until we hit the foothills after the North Gate to Yosemite. Pulling in at the park we made great time and were able to go cool off in the pool and sun bath which felt great on all of our muscles.
Day 14 - High Sierra Park to Mokeumne Hill. Getting an early start to the day we enjoyed a big breakfast at the local diner in Groveland. Make sure to order the homemade cinnamon rolls, it was as large as my head. Not to much occurred on Highway 49 minus the foothills and having lunch in Angels Camp. We were getting closer and closer to Mokeumne Hill and climbed to the small town. The Leger Hotel was pretty interesting for its western qualities and was built in 1852 conjoined with the prior county court house before it was converged as a larger hotel. When the manager of the hotel asked that we must want to dive in the pool we both thought we was kidding but there you have it, there was a good size swimming pool out on the back courtyard. A good dinner and showers was all we could ask for after cooling off in the nice pool.
Day 15 - Mokeumne Hill to Fair Oaks. Checking out of the hotel full of history was a difficult task due to its great service but we needed to be on our way. We made our way out of the foothills which was a blessing and off of the questionable Highway 49 after Drytown. Which was just about the perfect name for it because the day was very dry and hot. Onto Highway 16 we went heading east which had much better road conditions and soon we reached Fair Oaks up Sunrise Boulevard. We needed to stop at Bob's Cycle for new brake pads for dad after day 13 and it was a nice bike shop. Don and Barbara were very gracious and made us feel right at home for the afternoon and we enjoyed a great dinner with my aunt Barb and my cousin Chris as well. Staying up past midnight we broke our record for the trip so far just catching up with everyone.
Day 16 - Fair Oaks to Knights Landing. Having even more of Barbara's great cooking we enjoyed a relaxing breakfast and took our time. Entering Sacramento was easier than both of us had expected because of the great 18 mile bike trail put in place along the banks of the American River that brought us straight into Old Sacramento in great time. From there we crossed the Sacramento River into West Sacramento and took farm roads all the way up to Woodland. After grabbing a bite to eat at In and Out Burger we got back on the road and strolled into Knights Landing with an average of 18 miles per hour on our bikes. Cousin Chris came up for the day on is Kawasaki Ninja street bike which we continually razzed him about but it was nice to spend time with him since I haven't seen him in 7 years. Day 17 - Knights Landing to Chico. Our longest and one of our worst days. Though the temperature was over a hundred for the day the heat wasn't a factor. Cruising into Colusa for a late breakfast after our 5:30 start we were battling a minor headwind that wasn't too bad. Leaving Colusa we thought the thermal heat hitting the Central Valley would wipe out the wind but all it did was fuel it. Since the temperature is rising into the 100's for this week after its unseasonably cool 80's the warm front gave a strong wind heading south. This was a battle for us since we had already ridden 40 miles and we were only half way. It took several hours since we could barely maintain 10 miles per hour on this flatland because of the strong headwind howling straight into us.
Day 1 - San Francisco to Pigeon Point. The day had a late start due to Mary's great cooking back in Pleasant Hill. Consequently the Golden Gate Bridge had been engulfed with a thick fog that we had been surprised to see, sadly it was not our last. The day's ride began smoothly with Jim doing a photo-shoot of us for several miles without our knowledge. Our first hills hit us hard but in good time we moved along at a decent pace. Devil's Slide became the highlight that will forever be on our mind for Day 1 to our adventure. The day seemed to never ending with climb after climb but coming around the bend into Pigeon Point Lighthouse was a great sight to see.
Day 2 - Pigeon Point to Sunset Beach. Starting with a misty and cold morning we stopped for a large breakfast in Davenport. We made our approach on Santa Cruz as the sun began to break through the strong haze. There at the boardwalk we took our time walking around, watching a beach volleyball competition as well as seeing all the attractions. There was a very skilled team of men wearing long dress' that would have seemed to be difficult to move in but they swept their way through the competition. Leaving Santa Cruz after a nice walk down main street and grabbing some lunch we cruised to Sunset Beach with time to spare.
Day 3 - Sunset Beach to Andrew Molera State Park. Another cold beginning to our day we believed that the sun was never going to shine. Following a good start we had a large stop for breakfast in a great little diner. A few miles down Route 1 from our breakfast my front tire popped due to a shard of glass and stopped us for a while. Later we followed a scenic bike trail for around 9 miles until we faced our first large climb leaving Seaside and making our way up into Carmel. The headwind was very strong and it was a difficult climb but stopping in Carmel for lunch at Bruno's Market was a good rest stop. Meeting some interesting characters that were following our same route gave assurance that we weren't too crazy for trying this. On one of the several peaks we met a Englishman native to Vancouver. Though his name slips our tired minds his trip doesn't. He had started up in Vancouver and was biking the entire Pacific Coast down to Mexico and from there he was considering going down to Argentina which just astounded both of us. Later on we eventually made our way to our rustic campsite 21 at Andrew Molera before Big Sur.
Day 4 - Andrew Molera State Park to Plaskett Creek Campground. Departing early in the morning we were heavily determined to accomplish the steep climb into Big Sur on Route 1. Stopping at a nice Breakfast place half way up the mountain was nice because it gave us time to recoup and even lay eyes on the Sun Goddess. Once over the peak we thought that we were getting closer though we didn't know the difficult ride ahead. Several smaller hills followed and never seemed to stop at the way up until we reach Lucia where we had dinner at 2PM in the afternoon. Going down hill from there we reach Plaskett Creek Campground with no sweat and met other riders with similar bike routes. Throughout the day we passed numerous new GT Mustangs ending with a total of 26.
Day 5 - Plaskett Creek campground to Los Osos. Going only a small distance from Plaskett Creek into the small settlement of Gorda we sat down to a time consuming breakfast with a very talkative waiter. Not wanting to go back outside due to the cld my hot chocolate hit the spot. We took our time making our way up the rides largest climb from around 225 ft to 1000 ft above sea level in a gradual increase over 2 to 3 miles. Falling from that evaluation into the small community of Ragged Point the sun finally began to shine. From that point on there was a smooth 20 miles into Sam Simeon where I thought up the idea of going all the way to Los Osos to see the Hendrick's. That extra 25 miles wasn't too bad since the Californian coastline was hit with sunlight and we were given a questionable tailwind. Today, however; we counted a grand total of 38 new GT Mustangs.
It is necessary to send out a big "thank you" to everyone that will be supporting Jake and I on this journey that we are starting tomorrow. To use a phrase from a good friend and mentor "this is a defining moment" is an understatement. For Jake I hope this is a journey that he will always be able to look back on and remember that it took months of planning, lots of training, learning for the first time how to ride a bike, as he puts it, "with big wheels", and spending quality time with a father who loves him. For me, I have had several defining moments in my life, from my marriage to Sharon, the birth of my children, the loss of my parents, riding in the PMC with Otis and now the "Tour of California - 2009" to name a few.
A special thanks must go to my brother Jim (the transporter) and his wife Mary - we could not have done this trip without all your help. Thanks to my life long friends Mike Costanza, Bill Hendricks (and spouses) and Don and Barbara Moore for the hot showers and soft beds on our rest days. Also, to Keith and Deb Gauley for staying at our house and taking care of the dogs.
Obviously, this trip would have never taken place if it was not for the support of my true companion, Sharon. You have always believed in me and supported my crazy ideas, this by far being the craziest! Please rest easy, remember that we will be fine and enjoy your time with your mother. Kara and Rachel, you are the best daughters a father could ask for, be good for Mommy - I will see you on the 27th. I Love You!
Thanks go out to Mary for noticing the mistake I made when I added the days of the week to the itinerary. The dates are still correct, but the days were off by one. I hope that this will not be a problem for any of our host families, if so please call me at 774-408-6486. This will also be the phone # that we will have during the trip.
We're happy to announce that both Jake and I will are now virtual riders for the PMC this year! The two of us will not be taking part in the 193 mile ride that Sharon and I have participated in past but instead we will be embarking on a 1250 mile bicycle journey around the state of California from June 27th to July 27th 2009.
Since the PMC is the single largest contributor to the Jimmy Fund at the Dana- Farber Cancer Institute, we dedicate our greatest energies to this charity. It is a cause that is dear to us. Cancer doesn't discriminate. It hasn't skipped over our family and friends. Some are fighting cancer, some are in remission, and some have died from this disease. This year will mark the 22nd anniversary of the death of Mike's father who lost his battle to pancreatic cancer. We ride this year in memory of him and other family members including Sharon's half-brother, Terry Webb, and her aunt, Liz Boyd. However, there is hope for a cure. Since 1980, the PMC has raised $240 million for research! You can make a difference.
The beauty of being a virtual rider is that there is no minimum to raise unlike the riders in the actual two day event who must raise $4200.00. We are just asking to please keep us in mind and if you would like to make a donation please follow the directions below. All of you have taken this challenge seriously over the past seven years and have helped Sharon and I raise over $31,000. Thank you for your support in the past and we thank you in advance for your continued support this year!
You may also use your credit card for your gift. The easiest (and most cost effective) way is to go online to either:
to sponsor us. You may also mail us (15 Vineyard Lane, Harwich MA 02645) your donation in the form of a check made out to “PMC/Jimmy Fund”. Your emotional support along with gifts at any level is very important to us.
If you would like to dedicate your contribution to someone dear, please include his or her name. We will add the name(s) to the 52 names from previous rides and wear them on our jerseys during our ride in hope that the power of this effort will bring comfort to those special people.
We encourage you to visit the PMC website http://www.pmc.org/. There are wonderful video clips and information for those of you who live far away and have never seen this amazing event in person. Somewhere along the journey around California lies a cure for cancer. You can help us find it, maybe just over the next hill.
It's been a while since our last posting and a few plans have changed. The biggest change are the dates for Jake's soccer camp, it has been moved up one week. So, to make our trip work we have had to shorten it by 5 days so he can get back to New Hampshire on Sunday July 26th. We will be taking the red eye in to Boston on the 25th, arriving at 7:40 am on the 26th, go back to the Cape, drop off all the biking junk, pick up all the soccer junk and turn around and drive up to Keene, NH that day.
Good news - Jake's bike is finished! Photos to follow, we just need to purchuse a couple racks, bike boxes and shoes.
I just picked up my new bike and we are building Jake's from scratch, what better way for him to learn all about his bike. We have just started planning the daily agenda for the trip (see "On Going Plans"). We are planning on riding about 50 miles a day with just three to four days off. To cover the mileage for the trip Jake says we must travel 42 miles per day in 32 days to complete the trip. Jim, my brother, doesn't know this yet but he will be picking us up June 26th at the SFO and we plan to depart from San Fran on the 28th. If all goes well Jim will have to pick us up in Cloverdale on July 23rd. We are taking the red eye home the night of the July 25th back to Boston.
I am hoping to show Jake places in California that I visited and/or lived in while I was growing up. Friends and locations we will be visiting (besides Jim and Mary's) are Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Bill and Maggie Hendricks in Los Osos/Morro Bay, Jeff Duncan in Fresno, Yosemite Valley, Don and Barbara Moore in Fair Oaks in hopes that my sister and Chris will come visit from Rocklyn, Mike and Karen Costanza in Chico, the Redwood Forest, Northern coast - Fort Bragg and back home to Jim and Mary's for a long hot shower!!!!
Well, a lot has happened in the last month - I bought a new bike, I bought maps of the ride along the route from adventure cycle, we will be flying to and from SFO. We will fly in June 26th and leave July 30. Much More to come.
I have just started to plan our 1200 mile bike trip with my son, Jake, around California. This is a change from what we want to do but Jake must report to soccer camp earlier then we had thought. We know nothing about bike touring but I want to do something with my son before he gets to that age!!? I also wanted to continue to raise money for the PMC to help fight cancer!! I plan to be in touch with several old friends and family members in the future to start setting up places to rest up and take hot showers. There will be a lot to plan and more information will be on the blog as soon as I can figure out what we will be doing. Please keep in touch!