Archive for September, 2009

Success on Mt. Whitney

On the last day of summer 2009 two friends (Lynn and Gary Clark) and I completed a day hike up on Mt. Whitney. It was a very long day, a 14h roundtrip with a pre-dawn start (7.5h up, 1h top, 5.5h down). The weather was perfect – as is often the case this time of the year – with great visibility, warm, sunny and dry with hardly any wind.

Mt. Whitney, the highest point of the lower 48 States, marks the 3rd of my Panamerican Peaks. It’s next nearest higher mountain (parent peak) is Pico Orizaba in Mexico, my 4th Panamerican Peak.

Here is the Mt. Whitney Picasa photo album.

See also the Mt. Whitney page.

Add comment September 22nd, 2009

High Sierra

View above Lone Pine prior to sunrise

It feels good to be in the mountains again! Last night I slept at 9000ft to help acclimatization. Sleeping bag, no tent, fresh air, starry night, brilliant milkyway, colorful dawn and sunrise.

High Sierra and Owens Valley above Lone Pine

The morning air up here is dry and clear; excellent light for photography! California is a great place. It makes me realize again how much we are missing living in Florida…

Morning Light in the Sierra Nevada

Today I will meet with two rider/hikers I met in British Columbia and then we will pick up our climbing permit for the planned ascent tomorrow…

Add comment September 20th, 2009

Southern California

Riding on the Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California

Southern California – sunny beaches, scenic bike paths, sun-tanned surfers and beach volleyballers, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu, Hermosa Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Newport Beach etc. All this and more in the last couple of days!

Getting back on the paved bike path across the sand

Over the last couple of days I have been falling a bit behind with updating my daily notes and the Blog. There was a lot of riding and I had a few meetings with friends – also the days are getting noticeably shorter now with sunset by 7pm (soon we will hit the equinox) and many State Parks simply don’t offer wireless Internet or a place to sit and type on the computer…

When there is only one road, bikers go on it, even on the freeway!

Today I finally managed a rest day here near San Diego at a friends’ house where I was invited to visit and stay. So I did some updates today, including saving the SPOT track (of the last 7 days), adding daily notes to the US ride page with all notes from Oregon and California, and uploading a few dozen select photos to my California PicasaWeb photo library.

Here are a few quick photos capturing the flair of riding along Southern California.

Memorial to lifeguard service men in Hermosa Beach

Evening ride on the bike path right on the beach near Long Beach

Looking back West in the evening near Long Beach

Tomorrow I’m planning to take a rental car and driving to Lone Pine in the Owens Valley for the climb of Mt. Whitney. Look for my SPOT track on Whitney and updates on the Whitney page soon thereafter.

1 comment September 19th, 2009

Riding with (and for) Best Buddies

At the 2009 Audi sponsored BestBuddies ride Monterey to Hearst Castle

This weekend by chance I happened to cross path with an organized ride from Monterey down to Hearst Castle. It was Audi’s BestBuddies challenge, with 1000 riders tackling a variety of distances between 35km and 160km (!) along the hilly Coast line. is a 501(c) registered charitable organization seeking to support disabled children and youths. Audi is the main sponsor of this particular event.

My campground had been about 50km before the finish line, so I (and some of the other riders at our hiker/biker campsite) rode an intermediate distance. As the morning progressed, there were more and more riders who caught me on the uphills. I was one of the slowest riders going up the hills with my 60kg heavyweight rig. Downhill however, I could hang with the fastest of them 🙂

After the last big hill the last 25km or so the terrain levels out and it’s mostly flat. This was probably the first time on my entire trip that I felt a little bit in “racing mode”. It was just fun to try to keep up with some other riders – must have been a fun picture for those other riders to see a heavily loaded touring biker on a recumbent cruise along among them!

Nearing the finish line of the BestBuddies challenge ride

Near the Hearst Castle area I hesitated at first to cross the finish line, but got sort of swept up in the moment and the group of riders arriving simultaneously. The ride commentator called me out as not being part of the ride, but guessed that I was “riding from Canada to Mexico” and as such deserved a medal as well. I was also invited to join the others for drinks and food – something no touring biker will turn down.

Getting a Medal and invitation for food and drinks!

After eating and cooling down I walked up to the commentator, explained to him the nature of my Panamerican Peaks project and gave him one of my prospectus. I asked whether he could make a brief announcement about my project. He immediatedly introduced the project to the several hundred riders in the finish area; then he handed me the microphone to talk about the project in my own words! So I gave a brief rundown of the task, the timeline and the fundraising purpose. It was a great way to get exposure and some publicity for my project. A few individuals contacted me afterwards and I gave them a card.

To return the favor of the free food and publicity I went online at the next day and gave a small online contribution. Thanks for a great ride and for supporting a good cause!

Add comment September 14th, 2009

Santa Cruz, Monterey and the Pacific Coast

One of the many surfer bays en route to Santa Cruz

A long and eventful day brought me from San Francisco down to Santa Cruz. First I got stopped by a cop because I didn’t stop at a Stop sign – just rolled through gently on a downhill near the Golden Gate Recreation Area. (He lectured me on not driving recklessly, then let me go with an appeal to “make a better effort” at trying to stop / slow down. Got it!) Then I had a flat tire on my Bob Yak trailer caused by a tiny wire (like a paper staple) – a first after 6,700km.

At the Santa Cruz county line

Lastly, in the evening the cable of my gear shifter snapped with about 15km to go to Santa Cruz 🙁 Since I didn’t carry any spare I was left without the ability to shift gears; I manually selected a middle gear suitable for flat ground, cruised down the hills and pedaled like mad before getting to any uphills… Kelly, a local friendly rider helped me by waiting for me and then showing me some quiet backroads to the center of Santa Cruz.

I find a cheap hotel to stay in Santa Cruz to get to a bike shop next morning – my first hotel room on this entire trip! I stay there after having a nice evening conversation over dinner with Lou, a “road warrior” I had met two months ago up in Yukon at the Toad River lodge. (You can follow him on Twitter @bacpkr). We both reminisce on the trip to/from Alaska and philosophized on the value of time and traveling.

Lou and I over dinner in Santa Cruz

Next day I bring my bike to a nearby bike shop. They replaced the cables and also the worn out brake pads of my rear Magura disk brake. In the meantime I have time to explore the Santa Cruz beach on foot – not a bad place to get stuck for a few hours while waiting for the bike repairs…

Santa Curz Beach from Wharf

However, it made for a late start to the day around 2pm, so I wouldn’t reach Monterey until 7pm when it gets dark (hence no time to visit the famous aquarium there). Rolling hills, dry pastures and cultivated farmland with artichoke and strawberry fields dominate the scenery (and a lot of cheap laborers picking fruit). I arrive in Monterey at sunset.

Arriving in Monterey at sunset

After some Indian food for dinner I push my bike up a steep hill to the Vets Memorial State Park and camp there for the night.

The following day brings very nice and rugged coastal scenery, but also some pretty big hills. US1 leads via Big Sur to a small campground between Lucia and Gorda (both these “villages” consist pretty much of one restaurant and grocery store).

Pacific Coast South of Monterey

More coastline and hills South of Monterey

The views in this area are spectacular, the price for food outrageous, there is no cell phone signal and only in one place did I find wireless Internet. I think this is about as remote as it gets nowadays along the California Coast. But hey, that’s why we riders come here, right?

1 comment September 13th, 2009

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