Posted: Fri, 4 June 2004
June 4 - 'Twas the Night Before...
June 4 - 'Twas the Night Before...
I've had three great days in San Francisco awaiting the start of The Cross Country Challenge. I have walked miles in this great city seeing once again the "sights" that draw so many tourists here and make it for many Americans their second favorite city (second only to their home town). Not much has changed from the recent past when I visited so often on business. Well, maybe more homeless people (unfortunately), but it still has a certain charm, a uniqueness that sets it apart.
It remains very foggy most mornings, still windy and COOL all day, but by mid-afternoon it is sunny and brighter and pleasant.
After a nostalgic ferry ride to Sausalito for lunch yesterday...and a chance to take some pictures, I had a very enjoyable dinner with Louie Mettler--a good friend from Naples--and her sister Susie, who happens to be a leader of the San Francisco chapter of the American Cancer Society. I learned so much about the good works of the organization that my ride takes on ever more meaning. The ACS is without question one of America's truly great charties in terms of really helping people.
Today I took the "City Tour" to see again where Joe Dimaggio first played baseball, Fisherman's Wharf, and where Michael Douglas and Robin Williams live, but also to see the beach at Golden Gate Park where we begin our journey, and the Presido and the "bridge" we cross heading for Fairfield, CA on our first day, Sunday. It is not surprising that we encountered many cyclists today...as it is certainly a beautiful place to ride.
I had my "last supper" at Morton's steakhouse tonight, which is located just off Union Sq., and which provided a terrific meal in advance of my next "52 buffets" gratiously provided by the Holiday Inns and Best Westerns as we come across America.
Tomorrow, I meet the group for bike assembly, orientation, and some sort of social gathering at dinner.
Sunday morning it's back on the bike and we are UNDERWAY!
Of course, I have some "anxious anticipation" as one would have before any long term undertaking, but I really WANT to do this, so I will take it as it comes and make the best of this once in a lifetime adventure.
I'll keep you informed of all the wonderful things we see and do as we go across the country together.
Posted: Mon, 31 May 2004
May 31 READY TO GO!
The past weeks have been filled with daily training rides (see some photos), and all those other necessary things to do before leaving on a 2 1/2 month journey.
The bike is on its way in a UPS box bound for California, where we ( mainly the mechanic in my case) will re-assemble it in preparation for the trip.
I depart for San Francisco on June 2 to spend a few relaxing days in the city and surrounding area prior to the gathering of the group on Saturday, June 5.
The training has continued right through Saturday, May 29 when a friend and I joined 50 members of the Caloosa Riders bike club for a "fast 42" mile race through the deserted backroads of Lehigh Acres, FL. It was a great ride with a group of very experienced and dedicated cyclists who really pushed. I finished in 2 1/2 hours with an average speed of 18 mph, clearly a "personal best" for me. FUN!
Some going away events, paying bills, learning to use my my new digital camera and laptop, packing, arranging for people to look after the house and pool while I'm away----I've been busy with all those details, while at the same time continuing to ride my (old) bike 50+ miles per day.
I have been riding the "Naples beach run", which is a beautiful ride through great neighborhoods with scenic views of the Gulf (as you can see by the photos). The weather has been in the 90's....sunny with beautiful clear skies...so early morning rides have been the norm. I'm at the point where a long bike ride every day is what I do ....and I enjoy it! So, I'm ready and anxious to get underway!
The tremendous support I have received continues to be a strong motivation for the trip. The bike ride for ACS is bigger than I, or any individual or group ---it has ,as many of you have told me, "taken on a life of its own". The donation dollars continue to mount. The scroll of names to be carried has grown to 65. The interest in the trip and in the website as well as well wishes from supporters increases each week. I am mindful of your encouragement and grateful for your support!
Posted: Mon, 3 May 2004
May 3 TRAINING AND PREPARATION
With only a month to go before our America by Bicycle group of cross-country cyclists gathers in San Francisco to begin our ride, I wanted to bring you up to date on my preparation and training for this challenging trek.
Most of the equipment and items needed are currently in place. My new bike is great! We have been spending a lot of time together, as you can imagine, and every day I'm pleased with the choice I made. This TREK 5200 high performance road (or touring) bike is made of super-lightweight OCLV carbon fiber that creates "the strongest, fastest, and most durable frame out there." It is the bike of Lance Armstrong and the USPS team, so I'm starting with the best equipment, if certainly not the strongest pair of legs. As some of you know, I had a little trouble mastering the clip-in pedals and biking shoes---but the "wounds" are healing and I'm staying "vertical" now.
I can't say the seat is comfortable, but I am able to ride long distances without difficulty. I'm reminded that they never said it would be a "walk in the park." I have several different brands of biking shorts (as advised) to minimize chafing, etc., and a very colorful, highly visible array of biking jerseys, the latest of which is one with Audubon CARES on the front and the American Cancer Society flag or logo on the back, with the initials EJW on the sleeve. It is an excellent reminder of who supports this trip and why I am making it.
My training schedule continues to be very demanding. I ride almost every day and work out in the fitness center to build stamina and strength. The EXHAUSTING "spinning" classes I take at the Y and at Gold's gym are terrific for cardiovascular improvement as well as leg strength. I have put 1,000 miles on the new bike in the last 5 weeks and will have cycled well over 2,500 miles in the period from January 2004 to the June 5 start date. Last week I completed my second "century" ride (100 miles in a day) in the Ocala, FL area. The week before, I completed three back-to-back-to-back 80 mile days to test my endurance factor.
With 30 days to go I will continue to ride...really at the expense of almost all other activities--even TENNIS! My favorite venues are the "rails to trails" rides near Ocala and the Chokoloskee Island-Everglades City to I-75 route (and return).
In order to keep commitment to those of you that asked me to keep a journal on the trip and provide commentary and photos on this web site, I am researching laptop computers and digital cameras to be able to do so.
I continue to be extremely pleased and amazed at the support I have received for this ride for the American Cancer Society. The Naples Daily News article on the trip has brought about numerous letters and contributions from local folks and friends that are truly inspirational! The scroll of names I will carry now exceeds 40...with more to go.
I look forward to the trip...and the challenge...and the rewards.