Sunday, May 17, 2009

Berkeley to Napa - everyone loving and giving to this ride!

Last nite a call came in while Tom and I were busy chatting away that I did not take. It was Shawn Raymond. He had already seen the blog I put up about my brake issue. I replied early this AM with a text that he followed with a phone call. An hour and a half after we had spoken,  he was in front of Berkeley city hall with a hack saw and the shoes I had asked him to bring that long had proven to work with the Eagle. Wow!!

Soon he was busy grinding and tweaking as Ron Bishop was also hard at work cutting the business cards he had made for my ride! The magic had already begun. This and more after Tom and Lucy had already filled me up with pancakes before he escorted me from their beautiful home high atop the Berkeley hills. In fact, as Tom played guitar on his deck and I sipped the freshly squeezed OJ his wife had made for us that morning, while looking out on his "backyard", miles of watershed and beautiful open space, Wildcat Canyon, I knew the ride ahead would be filled with even more love and miracles.

Shawn worked my front rack some more after the brake fix and we rolled into a day that would reach 99 degrees at 9 AM. Ron, Tom and I were joined by John Young and Diane Lee, both strong pedalers. After Tom and Ron guided us thru the Ohlone trail network, much of which traveled under the elevated BART tracks, strong legs were needed for the giant rolling hills of the I-80 bikeway ahead. Pleasant and lightly trafficked, the route did require some navigation slow downs but we made it to the vista overlook feeling excited to have conquered this northern finger of the SF bay before we then rolled over the Carquinnez Bridge.

The Vallejo side started out in heavenly fashion. Tame wide roads with newly striped bike lanes, the path to the wine country looked like it would be a golden one. Then we hit Hwy 29 at a point where we had to make 13 miles in an hour in the hottest part of the day. with stoplights and hundreds of cars passing us.

This was big challenge for me because holding 14 to 15 mph in these conditions, with gear, demanded a lot from me. But we made our meeting with Napa Vice-Mayor, Juliana Inman, on time!! Her husband, John, a cyclist, was there. He took a lot of pictures. Soon Clark Smith, of Penny Farthing Wines showed up with his wife, Sue. And then Ron Bishop and Diane Lee. In a pick up truck. Diane had flatted.

We assembled for group photos then adjourned to the nearby Ace Hardware where Ron had an idea for how to rig me a new rack to carry my gear, a sleeping bag, some tools, clothes and a tarp. Well a few hours came and went. Several of the employees got involved, as did Clark. We missed the chance for a group meal as they kept sawing and measuring when Sandy Houck, who had biked over from her house where I would be staying the night, realized the last bus to Berkeley was about to leave.

The project ended. A fix for the rack did not result. Everyone said good bye and soon I was biking to Sandy's house about five miles away. There her bicycle crazy husband, Rich, felt challenge. He pondered and pondered. Then he sprung into action. With Sandy's capable help, they concocted a mounting system that seems bullet proof! All with the nuts and bolts and other fasteners they had on hand! They were at it till 11pm!!

Of course, there again, in all my five decades I've never met a couple more bike-centric. There are bikes and bike posters and bike gear tastefully positioned everywhere you look in their home. Too exciting. Wow!!



  2. Martin.

    Looks like you have got a real adventure on your hands with no vehicle support. Best wishes, keep your head up and have a safe journey.