Tours

halfway_to_la.jpgSunday morning in San Diego. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the neighbors are getting annoyed at the 217th time they have to listen to Lily Allen sing The Fear. I woke up a few hours ago, dreaming I have to get my pretty-bag together, rush to the showers to stand in line with hundreds of people for a meager cup of thin coffee. None of that, today, though.

ALC 8 - AIDS LifeCycle - is over. We triumphantly entered Los Angeles, the most unlikely place in the world to end a bicycle ride, hugged and kissed each other good-bye, and laughed and cried with friends and family that had come to pick us up. We were promised the experience of a life time, and it certainly was. 

Here is my recap of the event - take it as a primer for first-time riders.

Read more: AIDS LifeCycle - the Recap

alc.jpgIf you haven't heard it yet, you will do so soon: I am participating in this year's AIDS LifeCycle ride. So far, I successfully skirted the issue by being busy or traveling, but this year my friends that are close to the AIDS Foundation told me that charity is drying up and that they need both the support and the free marketing desperately, like never before.

What is AIDS LifeCycle? Well, it's a bicycle tour that goes from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 6 grueling days. Modeled after other charity races, AIDS LifeCycle participants pledge to raise a minimum of $3000 for the good cause. As it turns out, people are more willing to give you money if you put your personal effort on the line.

I find everything about the ride challenging. There are the 100 daily miles for a week, the challenge of meeting thousands of strangers, and the need to ask people for money. But, heck, I knew that was going to happen - and I am pushing all the way to get my funding goal in! Please help if you can!

My friend Stephen and I decided to spend the Friday zipping down the peninsula, scorning the more common Marin ride. S. was about to embark on a week-long trip to the Caribbean and needed a boost of workout before languishing lazily at the pool, checking out the Caribbean belles.

We met at Peet's on Market (which meant I had to log my sorry butt over the hills of San Francisco) and went from there. I immediately nixed the route over Great Highway, since the day was one of those blustery winter days San Francisco's summer is so famous for.

Bundled up in our many layers, we started down Valencia, merged into Mission and then proceeded to hit on El Camino for the way down the Peninsula. It was obvious S. had never seen that part of town before, which I took to be a great new adventure. The scenery changes rapidly from the little shops in the Outer Mission (and the crowds of Friday morning) to the lavish cemeteries of Colma.

Read more: San Francisco to Woodside and Back

The Spectrum Ride

If you have been riding on the San Francisco Peninsula, chances are you have heard of this ride. It's not the most splendid setting per se (unless you happen to like your front man/woman's derriere), but it's a great ride, and you can join whenever you like.

Directions

The ride starts at 9 AM every Saturday, come rain of shine, at the intersection of Hollenbeck and Homestead in Mountain View. That's where the old Spectrum bike store used to be, and if you are an old timer, you still have your Spectrum store jersey with you!

Highway 87 has an exit "Homestead". Use that one, and go to the East from there. Soon you'll get to Hollenbeck and its Starbucks (why do all bikers end up at coffee houses?). The trek leaves at 9 sharp, so be punctual!

Basically, Spectrum is an open ride and anyone can participate. It is quite a fast ride, so you have to be fit to participate. A lot of us jump on and leave after a variable amount of minutes, proud of having been part of the pack. Others though are pretty annoyed at slower bikers, and people don't mince with their disapproval, especially at newcomers.

Read more: The Spectrum Ride

On Second Try

Marco made it to the topWednesday had been a horrible day for a bike ride up Haleakala. Gale force winds had been hammering the islands, accompanied by heavy rains. Power lines were down in Kihei, trees fell crashing to the ground, and the noise made it impossible to sleep.

Guess who chose that very same Wednesday for an attempt to climb Haleakala? Yours truly. Nothing discouraged me, and I even made it all the way to over 5,000', just to be pushed back by the storm, unable to manage even one more inch against the winds. I felt betrayed by my mana, as they say here, and froze myself down the mountain, slowly trying not to slip on the drenched street.

What a surprise on Friday, when it already seemed impossible to get up again. I checked the weather forecast, and the winds were expected to be down to an acceptable 20 mph. I collected all my gear, avoided the mistakes of the first try, and left home.

Read more: Climbing Up Haleakala

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