Sunday, July 27, 2014

Two Bridges Ride

The two newest bridges crossing the Carquinez Straight, the Alfred Zampa Bridge built in 2003 connecting Vallejo and Crockett, and the George Miller Bridge built in 2007 connecting Benicia and Martinez have incorporated exclusive bike lanes.

The local jurisdictions in collaboration with the East Bay Parks District have designs to connect the dots to facilitate bike travel between these two bridges.  In September 2014, the Carquinez Scenic Drive between Port Costa and Martinez is scheduled to be opened to the public.

Right now, you can travel between the two bridges through a combination of on and off road bike lanes, mostly on-road.  The good news is that most of the on-road travel is on lightly trafficked streets and country roads.

Since the completion of the George Miller Bridge (south-bound bridge) in 2007, riding the loop between the two bridges have been on my "to do" list.

I found a recommended route on the internet (shown on the blog album) connecting the two bridges - 31 miles with about 1,800' of climbing.

Today, Dick Fraschetti, Herb Lee, Kristina and David Vandershaf rode the loop with a side trip to the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo.

It's a beautiful ride through pleasant low-key communities of Benicia, Crockett, Port Costa and Martinez.

To view the album, click on "Two Bridges Ride" below photo:

From Two Bridges Ride

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Prologue - Juneau

We flew into Juneau at the beginning of our 20 day trip to Alaska.  We added 2 1/2 days to our itinerary before the bike tour to spend time in Juneau to check out the sights.

Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is a picturesque city with a population of 33,000. Its major economy is state government and tourism.

It's a major stop for the big cruise ships and there were five tied up when we arrived.  With about 3,000 passengers each, it means about 15,000 tourists descend on the town each day.

The sights we visited were the Mendenhall Glacier, Mt. Roberts, the state capital and city museum, and a walking tour of Chicken Hill, one of the city's prominent residential neighborhoods.

After our stay in Juneau, we caught the ferry to Skagway, where we rendezvoused with Stew and Jim to begin the bike tour portion of the tour.

To view the album, click on "Prologue - Juneau" below the photo:

From Prologue - Juneau

Tour of Yukon Territory and Alaska

The main purpose of coming to Alaska was a 12 day, 700 mile bike tour of the Yukon Territory and Alaska.  Weather wise, June is suppose to be the best month to do a bike tour.

Stew Patrignani of Davis, planned and organized this tour, and invited nine other cyclists to join him and his wife Paula. Stew's acumen at tour planning was off the charts.  He laid out a 12 day route on the remote Alcan Highway, now called the Alaska Highway, where lodging and food are far between.

There were some very long days since lodging were unavailable at reasonable intervals.  Due to the size of our group, he made advance reservations for each night to insure we had a pillow to lay our heads.  Being early in the season, it was sketchy whether some of these places would be open.

He planned lunch meals out of the ice chest, and arranged group dinners at some of the lodges where they had no dining room.  Everyone rotated driving the sag truck and stopped at timely intervals to provide support for the riders.

With all the variables that could go wrong on such a tour, the tour came off without a hitch.  My hats off to Stew for his leadership and organizational skills.

As far as the tour goes, I did not know what to expect since I've never been to Alaska before.  Without overstating the case . . . it was FRIGGIN' AWESOME!!

There are four things that impressed me the most:  The mountains, the lakes, the rivers, and unexpectedly, the friendliness and helpfulness of the local people.  These are genuine people without pretension.

It reminded me of our country of the 1950's when life was pretty simple and people were sincerely nice to each other.  It was an out of body experience.

Four people we met, all women, who singularly ran their lodges without male support, were the most memorable - Amanda, Buck Shot Betty, Mary, and Mabel.  They did all the work themselves - cleaned the rooms, prepared the meals, served the meals, ran the office, chopped the wood, maintained the buildings, and did all the heavy lifting.

They are truly what you would call independent, hard-working pioneer women.  You wouldn't want to mess with them either.  They carry fire arms.

As you will see, the scenery is beyond great.

To view the tour album, click on "Tour of Yukon Territory and Alaska" below the photo:

From Tour of Yukon Territory/Alaska

Epilogue - Anchorage and Kenai Fjords National Park

After the bike tour, we spent 3 1/2 days in Anchorage where we had a full itinerary sight-seeing and visiting friends for dinner.  Major highlights include the Anchorage Museum, the Alaska Native Medical Center, the Native Heritage Center and a day trip to Seward and the Kenai Fjords National Park.

Looking back over the 20 days of our tour, I would have to say without hesitation, this was one of the most remarkable and amazing trips of my life.  The scenery, the wildlife, the genuine warmth and hospitality of the local people are things that I will always remember about Alaska and the Yukon Territory.

The trip was made even more special because of my ten fellow travel companions who were so easy-going, fun and adventuresome.  Special thanks to Stew for organizing - truly - a trip of a lifetime.

To view the Epilogue album, click on "Epilogue - Anchorage and Kenai Fjords National Park" below photo:

From Epilogue - Anchorage and Kenai Fjords National Park

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wendy's Tour-de-Licious 2014

It was two years ago when we did the first Tour-de-Licious traveling from Sacramento to Kings Canyon National Park.  Wendy Sigerson, a professional caterer, approached me again for a repeat and it was an easy sell.

I conferred with Dave and Kristina Vandershaf about a route and Dave came up with an 8-day loop through Northern CA and Southern OR beginning and ending in Yreka.

If you know Dave, it was a doozy of a tour covering 355 miles with over 25,000' of vertical.  Five days had major passes to surmount.

Sixteen hard-core riders and wannabes signed up for the tour.  Many were repeaters from the last tour and some were new.  The Wendy Tours are known for fantastic food combined with hard-core riding.

This time, instead of doing a loaded tour, we had a sag truck to haul all our camping gear.  A very wise decision.

In spite of couple days of rain, the tour went amazingly well.  The route through the Klamath Mountains was incredibly scenic and remote.  It was a rare instance when we encountered a vehicle.

The best part of the tour was the group of 17 really clicked.  Cycle touring is really fun but when all the personalities are affable and cooperative it is a real bonus.

To view the complete album, click on "Wendy's Tour-de-Licious 2014" below photo:

From Wendy's Tour-de-Licious 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

2014 Amgen Tour of California Stage 1

The Amgen Tour of California visited Sacramento for the sixth time in nine years. Sixteen teams with 128 world-class riders are participating in this year's tour.

Stage 1, a 120 mile route traveled north along the Sacramento River, turned east to Lincoln and Auburn, and southeast on Hwy 49 to Cool and El Dorado Hills, before returning to Sacramento on the Jackson Highway.

The race ended with three circuit laps of two miles around the State Capitol and Mid-Town.

Nasty 20+ mph head and cross winds made for a challenging day for the riders. It was reported that one of the light-weight riders was blown into a ditch on the Jackson Highway.

To view the race album, click on "2014 Amgen Tour of California Stage 1" below photo:

From 2014 Amgen Tour of California Stage 1

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rinko Tour 2 - SF, Devil's Slide and More

The new bike and pedestrian trail at Devil's Slide recently opened.  I don't need much of an excuse to bike down the California coast so this was an excellent opportunity to do another Rinko Tour (train/bike) to one of my favorite hostels in Montara.

Frank Gerace and I packed our panniers and headed out on a five day tour booking two nights apiece at the Montara Lighthouse and SF Fort Mason Hostels respectively.

We took the Capital Corridor train from Sacramento to Oakland, the ferry across the Bay to SF, and rode down the coast to the Montara Lighthouse, truly one of the gem lodging facilities of the AYH chain.  The setting of this tiny lighthouse out on a point is beyond spectacular. It even has a coffee bar.

We rode the new Devil's Slide Trail enroute to the lighthouse.  The 1 1/2 mile section of old Hwy 1 has been refurbished into a first-class exclusive bike and pedestrian pathway with viewpoint amenities.  This pathway is closed to auto traffic and is an absolute delight to either bike or hike.

On the layover day, we rode to Pillar Point to check out the famous surfing venue, Maverick's Beach, and returned to Montara to hike some of the trails of McNee Ranch State Park.

On the return trip to SF, we decided to ride Old Pedro Mountain Road to Pacifica.  It is a gnarly one lane partially paved and dirt pathway over Montara Mountain.  Taking this option bypassed the narrow sections of Hwy 1 which is heavily trafficked but it is a true adventure and not for the faint of heart.

During our two days in SF, we biked along the bay front to China Basin and ATT Park and over the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands and Sausalito.  Heavy fog thwarted the ride into the Headlands.

Over four days, we experienced some incredible sights and places.  To view the album of this tour, click on "Rinko Tour 2 - SF, Devil's Slide and More" below photo:

From Rinko Tour 2 - SF, Devils Slide and More