Tag: Fuller Center

Fuller 70 for 70

| June 20, 2023 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, we rode 80 miles, which gave me the opportunity to do my 70 miles for my 70th birthday. My previous two attempts ended prematurely with unfixable blowouts. The ride was delightful. Strained a bit at the end and was always anxious that a hard bump would generate a flat.

But I made it and it felt good. Even more importantly, I felt like I’m prepared for this week. I don’t usually train for these rides, but this time I did, sort of. Certainly did more riding that I ever have in anticipation of a ride.

Here’s the Moment I Hit 70 Miles

Fuller – American Pie

| June 18, 2023 | 0 Comments

One of the unexpected periodic opportunities I get from the Fuller rides is to experience pop and rock song lyrics. On a previous ride, I was “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.” On another trip, we stayed in Tonopah, made famous in Linda Ronstadt’s song, Willin’ with the lyric, “I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah”. I’ve also seen a “dead skunk in the middle of the road,” made famous by Loudon Wainwright III.

Last night, I checked another box. The song is American Pie by Don McLean. The lyric is “drove my Chevy to the Levy and the Levy was dry.”

In New Rochelle, we’re staying at the Holy Family Church, which is next to Iona College, of which Don McLean is an alum. Across the street from the college, the go-to student bar is now called the Beechmont Tavern. It used to be called The Levy when McLean was a student. Get it? One night, the bar was out of beer, leaving “the good ole boys…drinking whiskey and rye.”

There you have it. One of the many mysteries in that song solved.

Formerly Known as The Levy
The Proof
Fuller Riders

Fuller Bike Adventure 2023 Take 2

| June 17, 2023 | 0 Comments

This is the first time I’ve done two Fuller Rides in one year. As I write, I’m on the train from Boston to New Rochelle, NY to join the ride.

I honestly don’t know what pulls me back to these rides. The cause, the “living simply” experience, the camaraderie of my Fuller friends all play a big role. Honestly, the riding itself, while enjoyable (mostly) plays a smaller part of it.

This ride is different in a number of respects. It’s shorter than others. I usually do two weeks. This is only one week. Three hundred and fifty miles. I will be riding through my home region, New England, though not close to Boston, sadly. One big positive difference is that I don’t have to pack my bike in a box for air travel. I’m joining and departing the ride by Amtrak. Packing the bike is literally my least favorite part of these rides. It’s a huge relieve not to have to disassemble, pack, unpack and reassemble the bike twice, which was the case for almost all the other rides.

Amtrak, the ONLY way to travel with a bike
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The Fuller Center Ride – Catchup

| June 20, 2022 | 0 Comments
At the conclusion of the ride, we dip our front tires into Lake Erie to symbolize the conclusion of the ride. I’m second from the left.

It’s been a month since the conclusion of the Fuller Center ride and I’ve been tormented by my commitment to do a conclusionary post. My tendency of procrastination is at its peak when it comes to writing. It is only the point at which the pain of guilt from resisting writing something I need to write exceeds the pain of actually writing that I finally succumb. So, here I am. I’m going to begin trying to catch up. The picture above is the end, but I’m going to pick up where I left off and see if I can establish some record of the ride for posterity.

Actually, I had planned an extensive project of retro-posting a day by day account of the ride. Yeah, right. That wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I will recount the highlights and lowlights in a single post so I can get this off my conscience. And I’m just going to write stream of consciousness and go wherever it takes me.

I left off on Day 2 in which the trailer needed repair. So, I’ll pick things up on Day 3.

DAY 3 – June 15th

Glendale to Louisville – 59.4 miles

It was a relatively short jaunt from Glendale to Louisville. Unfortunately, it was a day of flats for me. I got three. They were all slow leaks, so I didn’t realize my tire was going flat until one of other riders pointed it out to me. All lot of the riding that day was on the shoulder of busy 2 or 4 land roads with a good number of trucks. The flat was caused by a wire from a retread from one of the trucks. I pulled over in a clearing to fix it. It turned out to the site of a fatal accident that killed two people, Donald and Sheila Williams. As it happened, our stop was one day before the 38th anniversary of the accident, as you can see from the monument. Sorry about the bio break being taken by the rider in the background who helped me with the flat. Didn’t notice when I was taking the picture.

Donald and Sheila Williams, Died June 16th, 1984, May They Rest In Peace

We didn’t get the whole wire out, which caused two more flats before I finally fixed it permanently that evening. No more flats for the rest of the ride.

DAY 4 – June 16

Louisville – Build Day

Showers at the the Louisville Fire Department. Firefighters working out. A couple of riders took advantage of the cold plunge.

Day 5 – June 17th

Louisville to Warsaw

Today’s ride was 81 miles, so not nothing. We were challenged with a passing thunderstorm that required us to take cover at a gas station. The timing was pretty perfect in that this was our scheduled rest stop. The rain continued a bit even after the storm passed. So, we had to dig out our rain jackets from the trailer. But it did cool things down.

I took some heat over my jacket. Not the day-glo style designed for visibility

There was one big hill at the end before a nice down hill glide into Warsaw, a very nice resort town on the Ohio River.

Me and Ray Arriving in Warsaw

We had a nice dinner at a restaurant on the Ohio River.

Left to Right: Diane, John, Mark, Tim, me, Alex, Sandi

OK, I’m going to post this and continue posting updates subsequently.

Fuller Ride: Day 2, Bowling Green to Glendale

| June 14, 2022 | 0 Comments

So this week hasn’t gone quite as planned. Certainly not with respect to my attempted daily dispatches. The toll that COVID took on the riders and others before I arrived reduced the support team to such a point that the logistics of the day to day existence, separate from the ride itself, became significantly more challenging than usual for these rides. Much more of the time not on the bike was spent either obtaining food, eating food, locating and taking showers and other of life’s necessities. There was simply no time for me to write the daily blog posts I had planned to do. . So as a result, it is one week in and I’m only now reporting on the day two ride, otherwise know as “the ballbuster.

But first, to pick up where i left off, we had arrived in Bowling Green to the news that our trailer had a potentially catastrophic mechanical problem, something to do with the springs that would have caused the trailer to flip if not fixed immediately. So, we had to rent a new trailer while the first one was repaired. Suffice to say, that introduced some complications.

The route on Day 2 was 72 miles from Bowlig Green to Glendale, Kentucky. The heat index would go to over 100 degrees and there would be lots of hills. i made it to 60 miles before I hit the wall. My fancy new bike allowed me to do the hills better than in past rides, but, for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be able to control the heat. I asked for a pick-up at the top of a hill and was told that the van was on the way. So, I waited with the two “sweeps,” the guys who stay to the back of the pack to make sure everyone makes it. After a seemingly inordinate wait, we learned that another rider was suffering from heat stroke and they had called an ambulance. We actually saw the ambulance go by. I thought about flagging it down so I could hop in the back, but didn’t do it. In any event, the necessary triage meant that I had to get back on the bike and keep riding, with frequent stops. There was one more big hill that I managed to clear with the encouragement of the sweeps.. The van did eventually pick me up after about 5 miles more of riding.

Day One: Nashville to Bowling Green

| June 14, 2022 | 1 Comment
Early in the Ride We Crossed the Cumberland River

A baptism of fire, almost literally. Today’s ride was 70 miles with one big hill going into the first rest stop, which I cleared pretty well. It got hotter and hotter as the day progressed. Not surprisingly, the pedaling got tougher. As I approached the second rest stop, the temperature was in the high 90’s and I wasn’t sure I would make it.

One of my hopes for this ride was to get some good pictures. So, I packed my camera and telephoto lens in the bike bag with tools and extra tubes. When I pulled into the second rest stop at the 50 mile mark, I was spent. So, I removed my bike bag. OMG it was heavy. I gave it to another rider and he said, “Holy shit! That weighs more than your bike! What are you nuts?”

He was right. It literally did weigh more than the bike. So, don’t expect any awesome pictures on this trip. I’ll be using my phone, except when we’re at the church. I’m not lugging the camera with me anymore.

There was also a very tough stretch on the ride that seemed to be a favorite for truckers. It was the worst of all worlds. Two lane highway, with very narrow shoulders and teeth rattling rumble strips. Dump trucks, tractor trailers, etc. zooming by. Most gave us wide berth, but some did not. It was disconcerting.

Looking back, I suspect part of the reason I was having trouble was that I was listening to the January 6th hearing on my bike. I was mostly riding alone, which was good, since I’m not sure of the politics of my fellow riders. But, when Liz Cheney said “an apparently inebriated Rudy Giuliani” I laughed out loud and noticed one of the other drivers on my tail. So, I shut it off.

I’d been holding off on listening to music so that i don’t tire of my playlist too quickly. But, with 10 miles to go, I had to pull over under a shady tree to collect myself. When I started out on this final stretch, I broke down, and put on a playlist from a previous ride. The first song that came on was Gimme Shelter and my legs just start pumping. I was renewed, energized. Next up Stage Fright by The Band. Another winner! Loan Me a Dime by Boz Scaggs. I was cranking.

It worked well for most of the way. But i have to admit I arrived at the church in pretty rough shape.

Tomorrow is supposed to be longer, with more hills and hotter.

Fuller Ride: Nashville

| June 12, 2022 | 4 Comments

Sunday – Arrival in Nashville

When I connected with the bike ride in Nashville, I felt like I was joining a military unit that had just been through a tough battle and taken many casualties.

Scenic View Baptist Church

Here are some of the things that happened over the last two weeks before I got here:

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Thursday’s Ride – 70 miles to Santa Maria

| July 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

I’m starting to get my bike legs and into the long distance bike ride mindset, so 70 miles seems like a moderate length ride. And after yesterday’s ball buster, 2,600 feet of climbing sounds like a bump in the road. There a big hill at the beginning and one at the end. We started along the coast and then went inland through farmland. Here’s a video of the ride.

Two interesting sights along the way. I spied a flock of turkey vultures circling overhead and landing periodical on fence posts. Everyone I told this to, on the ride and off, commenting that they probably saw me as a tasty future meal. Such is the confidence people have in my riding stamina.

Just waiting for me to falter…

We also passed a vast cilantro field. The scent was intense. I stopped briefly for a video of the farmworker picking the cilantro with Mexican music blaring from a car.

This is where your cilantro comes from.

The “church” was a reconditioned motel in Santa Maria, CA. The church provided us with a nice meal.

A rump group of beer drinkers gathered behind some bushes just off the property for some libations. Fuller Center rules prohibit alcohol on the church properties where we stay, so there are occasionally some creative efforts to celebrate the day’s accomplishments while complying with this rule. Sometimes there’s a bar walking distance from the church, which makes it easy. Sometimes not, which is where the creativity comes in. One our favorite support volunteers is willing to indulge the party animals and buy beer for us. I felt like a mischievous school kid.

Wednesday’s Ride – The Big One

| July 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

Wednesday’s ride was the toughest day of the whole Seattle to San Diego ride. It was from Carmel to Cambria, 100 miles with 8,000 feet of climbing over Big Sur. Full disclosure: I didn’t ride the whole way. I rode the beginning and the end, skipping the middle part involving riding over multiple huge hills with literally no shoulder on the road. As they say in New Jersey, “fuggedaboudit!”

In the vernacular of cycling, this was a ball buster. The night before, even very experienced riders were anxious. I thought about the famous picture of Eisenhower visiting the troops on the eve of D-Day. I wondered what those troops were thinking. What did they talk about? Our crew taking in quiet tones about climbs, elevation, road grade, wind speed and the weather forecast. Knowing I was going to forgo the hard part, I felt like one of the guys who got to stay on the ship off the coast of Normandy. The guilt of not joining the poor bastards in the LVs who would hit the beaches was offset by the knowledge they would likely be alive at the end of the day.

Because of the long day, we started early, lights on at 4:30 am and on the road by 6:00 am. The first 25 miles, which I rode, had a few hills, was pretty pleasant. The weather was very foggy, which persisted until the last leg after Big Sur. So, there was not a lot of sightseeing. I did try to get some landscape shots at the second rest top, which was by the ocean (picture below).

Going over Big Sur I had no regrets about riding the van. The hills were long and steep and the riding treacherous. The downhills are especially scary with no shoulder because the rider has to “take the road.” Cars are bound by law to give way to bikers. Some crazy bikers do down at speed of up to 45 mph. I’m on the brakes all the way down. And, if a car pulls up behind you, all you can think of is road rage and what he might do to get around you. And what he might do on the way by. In a previous ride, a guy actually pulled into our rest stop to berate me for not getting far enough to the right, where there was sand and a steep cliff. Nope! Not doin’ that!

I also road the last 20 miles, which were a delight. Mostly by the beach, mostly flat and the fog had lifted. I went by San Simeon, the Hearst mansion and some elephant seals.

The people who road the whole way all said it wasn’t as bad as they expected. Yeah, right. But they all made it to the church. And I didn’t feel guilty at all.

Tomorrow, 70 miles to Santa Maria.

Iconic Bixby Bridge Leading into Big Sur
I was told these elephant seals are exhausted from swimming from Alaska

Leaving San Francisco, First Ride Day, Brutal

| July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
A Quick Stop at Pebble Beach. No Time for Golf

If this was my first ride with the Fuller Center, it would also have been my last. It was the most raggedy start to a ride I’ve had in the five rides I’ve done. The thing about the Fuller Ride is that when it’s good (which is the vast majority of the time), it’s the best thing you’ve ever done. But when it’s bad, it’s really bad. And today was really, really bad. But having ridden before, I know tomorrow will be better and there will be many magical moments in the week ahead.

So, either settle in or bail out now. This is a long story.

Everything started OK. I’m on the breakfast team who’s job it is to make sure food is out for the riders by 6 am. ‘Lights on” is at 5;30 am and by 6 am all the riders are expected to have packed up their mattresses, sleeping bags and luggage and deposit them at the trailer by 6 am. First day is always a scramble for me. Fortunately, with my wife Rita’s help, my luggage is pretty organized, at least at the beginning of the ride. So, I was able to pack and fulfill my breakfast duties. We circled up at 7 am, discussed the days ride, a short “devotional,” and off we went. That’s when things began to go south. It would be a seventy mile ride from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. We were told there would be some hills at the beginning but would flatten out after we left San Francisco. Which was sorta true.

Within 100 feet of the church, I realized that I had forgotten to adjust my seat. Not a big deal to fix, but in the five minutes it took, I’d dropped to the back of the pack. That usually takes a few miles riding, because I try to leave early and hang with the cool kids for a little while before they get tired of my pokey pace and ride on. Less then one minute from the church and they had all ridden on.

Then things got worse.

The church we were at was on a hill. So, I imagined that the first part of the ride would be going down hill. NOT! First there was one big steep hill, followed by a turn to another big steep hill. Then there was a slight leveling followed by another big hill. There was a brief, glorious down hill stretch, followed by another big steep hill.

And then it got worse.

i was riding down another brief, glorious down hill stretch when I felt something brush past my legs. Something had clearly dropped off the bike, but a quick scan suggested it was nothing important. In fact, it was. It was the Velcro strap I was using to keep the case holding my supplemental battery pack closed. I bought the best battery pack I could find because I’m a gadget freak and the batteries in my gadget don’t last the day, Even my IPhone can’t last a long ride playing music and using GPS the whole way. This battery would be a game changer. I’d be able to suck all the power I wanted on all my gadgets.

Shortly after I felt the brush against my leg, I heard a clunk below me on the road. I looked down and saw the case had opened and the battery had fallen out. I pulled the bike over and ran back to get the battery. Cars were coming down the road at about 40 miles an hour, heading towards the battery. All I could think was, “Am I going to be luck today?” I wasn’t. Two cars rode right over the batteries, tires mashing them into the road. I still had hope. A battery is a solid block. Maybe it will survive. It didn’t. Now I have to go back into strict power management on my gadgets.

From there, the ride was a brutal slog through thick fog. I could barely see thirty yards in front of me and nothing side to side. A few more hills making my way out of San Francisco. I was exhausted and the ride was only about 2 hours into a likely 7 hour day.

Then it got better, a brief magical moment when I made a turn heading down a hill. The fog had begun to lift and there was the Pacific Ocean in all its glory. I literally yelped out loud and started pumping my fist. What followed was the best part of the ride, flat roads along the beach and the sun began peaking through the clouds.

That went on for a while and a new villain appeared on the scene. Wind. For a good part of the next few hours, I was riding into strong head winds. Sometimes it was so strong that I had to pedal in lower gears on the downhills just to keep moving. So, that sucked. Couldn’t even enjoy the downhills.

This was not the way to start a cross country ride for which your training was three or four 20 milers the previous two weeks. That’ll teach me.

Tomorrow’s ride is only 55 miles with fewer hills, destination Carmel-by-the-sea. Wednesday is 100 miles with 8,000 feet of climbing.

A Lighthouse for Boats Unaware of the California Coast
A Beach on a Foggy Day