Money does not guarantee happiness

| October 12, 2016 3:15 pm

On our September low-cost self-supported Italian trip, it was predicted to rain and perhaps snow up at Passo Stelvio by noon that day. We all started bright and early and nearly everyone made it to the top before the rain. As we were waiting it out, warm inside a cafe with an expresso, a premier tour group ($5K for one week) was stumbling in, everyone wetter than drowned rats.

“Where was the sag wagon?”
“Where is my bag of clothes?”
“Can you go back to curve # 21, Dave was not responsive”
“Where is my hot chocolate?”

Well, they did get their pre-ordered drink and food when they arrived. Afterward nearly everyone filed into the sagwagon and skipped the beautiful downhill!

Same day, same Passo Stelvio, very different results — Without a sag, we had to plan our timing to perfection, everyday. Furthermore by not relying on a sag, we had our rain jacket, warm gloves, and wool hat right there.

Spend less and experience more!

Tony Le, ACTC President


Amy celebrating at Passo Stelvio


Bailing, poor planning!

Daniel Pearl World Music Days

| September 26, 2016 2:37 pm

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

On this, the 15th Anniversary-Remembrance of 9/11, a helpful way for me to move forward is to listen to meaningful music. A favorite is the Daniel Pearl World Music Days, an international network of concerts that use the power of music to reaffirm our commitment to tolerance and humanity.

Daniel Pearl is the Stanford graduate, violinist, and Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002. His life and work is celebrated yearly with a free concert at the Stanford Memorial Church.

Join me on Oct 27, 7:30-9:30

Tony Le, ACTC President

John Muir Slept Here!

| August 19, 2016 8:30 am

Range of Light
“Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city. Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light.” John Muir

On this the centennial anniversary of our National Parks, an uniquely American idea to preserve parks for our children, let us to pay tribute to John Muir, the father of the National Parks. Muir lived a part of his illustrious life in the Bay Area. His home in Martinez, a National Historic Site, can be visited on the Around the Bay in Two Days led by Sheila and Russ Stevens and many Contra Costa Canal Trail rides.

Another exciting part is that Muir’s first historic 33-day walk from San Francisco to Yosemite in 1868 went through our backyard. He “followed the Diablo foothills along the San José Valley to Gilroy, thence over the Diablo Mountains to valley of San Joaquin by the Pacific pass, thence down the valley opposite the mouth of the Merced River, … and up into the Sierra Nevada.” Although much of Muir’s ramble is paved over, Peter and Donna Thomas of Santa Cruz concluded in their book “Muir Ramble Route” that he likely followed the Coyote Creek to Morgan Hill, up to Henry Coe, Pacheco Fall, and then through Pacheco Pass. Following Muir’s footsteps gives a new meaning to many ACTC Bears and Goats rides!

Tony Le, ACTC President

Old is New

| 8:16 am

Years ago, we used to have the Olema Campout on the President’s Weekend in February, cold and rainy! It lasted about five years and then another eight years after we moved it to the Point Reyes Hostel. Even though only Jean and I were there during the latter years of the Olema/Point Reyes event, we still had a wonderful time. We befriended a family who kept returning the same weekend and the hostel caretaker Bob Baez, who gave us a treasured out of print book “My Life on Two Wheels” by Dr. Clifford Grave, an American cycle-touring pioneer.

Today, Muriel and Michael Hudick, with help from Linda Kahn, Jeff Lew, Lynn Repetsky, Patty Dougherty, Lou Galbiati, Jared Smolens, Donny Axtell, and Paul Vlasveld, resurrected the Olema Campout with 47 ACTC members present. The weather was great; food was yummy, scenery as beautiful as I remember.

Thank you Michael and his wonderful staff! Can’t wait to go back!

Tony Le, ACTC President

Sitting — the New Smoking

| July 8, 2016 11:07 am

“Sitting, more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” — Dr. James Levine, Mayo Clinic

Sitting, like smoking, is clearly not healthy. Heart diseases and many forms of cancer prefer sedentary bodies, obesity and diabetes thrive with inactivity, and recent studies showed that even our mental capacity disappears faster the more we sit around every day.

However, many of these diseases are preventable so we have some control of our destiny. ACTC weekend rides are good starts but a daily dose of exercise is necessary to keep the doctor away.

Many ACTC members already ride nearly everyday so it may be like preaching to the choir but we all have family and friends who need some encouragement. We are proud that ACTC have many family-friendly events: Rotary Playgarden Celebration and July 4th Pancake Breakfast, upcoming Ice Cream Social, Olema Campout, and Progressive Dinner, but all ride-leaders are encouraged to lead at least one LM no-one-left-behind ride so beginning friends and family can start their journey with ACTC to sit less!

Best with no smoking and less sitting,
Tony Le, ACTC President

When You Tour by Bicycle, the World Is On Your Side

| June 10, 2016 5:08 pm

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” Muhammad Ali

This year, many ACTCers travel to far-flung places: Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, New Zealand, across the US, and our own Sierra to the Sea.

Bicycle traveling is perfect: it is fast enough to see the world, yet slow enough to meet the humanity. It is not uncommon for cyclo-tourists to get invited to dinner and perhaps a stay over by total strangers, receive advice for not-to-be-missed sites, good restaurants, concerts, or farmers markets, many of which cannot be found in guidebooks.

Beginners or even veteran cyclists often mistakenly think that they can’t do it. They are not fast enough. The rides are too hard. The trips are too expensive. Impossible — Not!

Speed is rarely a prerequisite to have an enjoyable tour. Ride at your own pace, stop to smell the roses, take videos and pictures, sample the local cuisine, and make a point not to go by a bakery without checking it out.

Flat rides are usually windy and hilly rides, well, hilly. They are especially taxing with extra weight of panniers, but smart cyclo-tourists keep the average daily mileage between 20-50 miles. If it is unusually hilly, make it even shorter and take rest days.

Rick Steves has a saying that, the more money one spends, the higher the wall surrounds oneself. Not many regular folks stay at 5-star hotels. It is counter-intuitive that less expensive trips, like many led by ACTC members, are the best, bar none.

Make your next vacation a bicycle tour – it is not impossible. Once you try it, you will never go back because when you travel by bicycle, the world is on your side.

Tony Le, ACTC President

In Flanders Fields and the Four Chaplains

| 5:02 pm


Having grown up in Vietnam during the 60’s, I remembered the poverty of the Vietnamese populace and the sheer war-horror. On Memorial Day, my two treasured remembrances are to read “In Flanders Fields” and the Four Chaplains.

In Flanders fields
By Canadian physician John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Humanity at its finest
In WWII, four Army chaplains, Lt. George Fox, a Methodist; Lt. Alexander Goode, a Jewish Rabbi; Lt. John Washington, a Roman Catholic Priest; and Lt. Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed Minister, gave up their life jackets; Rabbi Goode gave up his gloves as well as their transport ship, Dorchester, was sinking into the icy cold North Atlantic. When giving up their life jackets, they did not call out for a Jew, a Catholic, a Protestant, or an Atheist. They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line. Their bravery and openness stands the test of time as what our nation stands for, as applicable today as when we were fighting the fascist Nazi ideologue.

Watch the Four Chaplains documentary movie on youtube

Tony Le, ACTC President

A Journey Together

| May 2, 2016 2:40 pm

A Journey together
On the 39th Tierra Bella;
Beautiful countryside
Over a thousand joined this great ride

Impossible without our volunteers
Who made Tierra Bella a success with no peers;
Janice and Ray Low
Came from faraway Novato

Although not filled to capacity,
Michael Hudick and company
Did our very best;
I was impressed

Our volunteers did everything Rita asked
Together we accomplished many tasks;
The camaraderie we treasured
A journey together

Tony Le, ACTC President

Spaceship Earth

| April 22, 2016 8:02 am

Imagine we are astronauts on a spaceship with a finite amount of supplies and space, one would not wastefully and carelessly use everything up. We all are — this spaceship Earth.

Like it or not, our daily choice of driving, walking, cycling, and a host of everything else, has a profound effect on the environment. Some exemplary ACTC members don’t own a car, many choose to commute by bicycle, and many more ride to and from ACTC rides. I applaud them for the extra effort as if every day is Earth Day.

Earth Day, every day, on this spaceship Earth.

Tony Le, ACTC President

Almaden Cycle Explorers — ACTC Program for Children

| April 8, 2016 4:38 pm

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision” — Helen Keller

The future of ACTC rests in part on our ability to motivate children to become life-long cyclists. In the last decade, we proudly supported children-programs such as Turning Wheels for Kids, Kidical Mass, and Aztec Bicycle Club at Gardner Academy. These programs, although meritorious, lack continuity. ACTC has year-round bicycle rides, so should a children-program (at least the dry and warmer months).

It takes an enormous amount of dedication and perseverance to transform a vision into action. Pam Harlow, having just finished with the Aztec elementary school bicycle club, will coordinate the new Almaden Cycle Explorers (coined by Lee Smolens), a home-grown ACTC program to promote cycling to elementary school children. We will have a pool of children-bicycles and helmets for Bikeathons, Bike Rodeos, field trips, ice cream rides, etc. (See a Bikeathon video by Pam below.) The Almaden Cycle Explorers will have its own budget, like the ACTC Academy. If we are successful in our endeavor, there will be many winners beside ACTC — a healthier populace, a cleaner environment, and an abundance of safer and bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Thank you Pam!

“Some men see things as they are and say, Why? I dream of things that never were and say, Why not?” — Robert Kennedy

Our vision — Almaden Cycle Explorers — Why yes!

Tony Le, ACTC President

Click on this link to see the video => Bikeathon_Video_Harlow