This Marching Band Played for Me

| May 25, 2018 9:11 pm

On top of beautiful Twin Peaks in a past ACTC tour of San Francisco, I was thrilled to see the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Marching Band making their way up. Marching bands are my favorites; I used to spend my whole day at the UC Davis Picnic Day Battle of the Bands.

There were rows of empty seats and it was obvious where the band would be playing right in front. I sat my tired body there, anxiously awaiting. The band re-assembled and the Conductor was reviewing his musicians.

“You can’t sit there!” Ordered a guard in an authoritative voice, louder than a trombone. Not wanting to make a scene, I moved and stood to the side.

The Conductor saw and heard the commotion and then did the unthinkable. He directed the band to move to the left of the stand and centered in front of me.

The concert started. I don’t remember what happened to people in those seats but all I knew was the Band was playing for me! When you tour by bicycle, the world is on your side.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President


 

Build High the Bridge

| March 29, 2018 10:15 pm

“Whose strong hands … tills the soil, runs the foundry and the mill?
Fold your arms and the whole wide world stands still
Build high the bridge from span to span
Look up, fellow workers, the moment’s now at hand
Join your comrades on the line and don’t let them fall
For in Union there’s place for all”

Regardless if one agrees or not about the role of Unions, this beautiful Ronnie Gilbert’s song, “Build High the Bridge”, resonates well with ACTC. Sentiments, like No one left behind; Academy opening doors to new members; We are one, we are many; When we tour by bicycle, the world is on our side; Rejoice when friends reach a milestone or win an award; and Mourn when we lose a friend, are the intangibles that make ACTC special.

At the recent Award Dinner, Russ Stevens thanked me on continuing to lead the club and I really appreciated the recognition.

In truth, many other deserve the same accolade
Whose strong hands and legs
Build ACTC from wheel to wheel
Our club’s foundation stronger than steel
Join your friends on the pace line and don’t let them fall
For in ACTC there’s a place for all

Our work is never done and that is a good thing. It gives us a sense of purpose, a continuing challenge, and a raison d’être to be alive. Go ahead, unfold your arms and join us to make ACTC a better place for all of us.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Remembering Jon Kaplan

| February 21, 2018 10:17 pm

Heart broken, saddened, tragic, shocked, grieved, speechless are many of our thoughts remembering our dear friend Jon Kaplan, the Energizer Bunny, who was killed in an accident near the completion of his ACTC long distance training ride in Paicines.

ACTC members are invited to a service in remembrance of Jon Kaplan
Friday, February 23 noon
Congregation Etz Chayim
4161 Alma St
Palo Alto, CA 94306

As I was reading an email of Jewish Funeral Etiquette that Joan Freed kindly sent me, most are common sense such as follow directions, mostly just listen, low key is the key, your presence is important, don’t stay away, but this next passage really touched me.
“There is no greater mitzvah than to help bury someone, because it is a favor that cannot be returned.”

Rest in peace, Jon!

Tony Le, ACTC President

ACTC Mission Statement

| 10:14 pm

In January 1976, a blue document appeared in bicycling circles in San Jose, with the unusual title of “The Black and Blue Bottom”. Its introduction said: “This first issue of our new cycling club newsletter would like to be a welcome mat for new members. It is fun to get together as a group and enjoy a form of exercise you can do sitting down. We propose activities that will be as varied as overnight camping and indoor potluck parties and as exciting as passing cars down mountain roads or as quiet as a roll through the park when those cars are forbidden. Whatever we do, our purpose is to come together on bicycles and be friends to one another. It’s easy; come to a club meeting or be at the start of a ride.”

This ACTC Mission Statement remains true and strong today as we are the most welcoming bicycling club in the whole SF Bay Area. Our prolific ride schedule, Tierra Bella, Sierra to the Sea, a unique ACTC Academy, and our philanthropic actions are built on the characters of our diverse membership.

The late John Bass concluded on his historical take of ACTC in 1993: “The Almaden Cycle Touring Club is many things to many people, but it is a place to ride a bike and make friends above all else.”

Looking forward to a great 2018!

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Daniel Pearl World Music Days Concert 26 October 2017

| September 27, 2017 3:03 pm

When journalists are harassed, persecuted, maimed, or killed by both the far left and the far right, we know they are on the right track. It is then upon us to stand up for those who perished trying to uncover the truth or else “free press” might as well be free pass.

Daniel Pearl, a Stanford Alumnus, musician, and journalist extraordinaire was murdered in Pakistan in 2002. The Daniel Pearl Foundation promotes memorial concerts throughout the world to counter the hatred that took Daniel Pearl’s life.

Celebrate Daniel Pearl’s humanity at the Stanford Memorial Church on October 26, 2017, 7:30pm. This annual free concert always includes many first class musicians. Lead a bicycle ride there or drive if you have to. Free parking after 4pm on campus. Hope ACTC members will help pack the concert!

https://live.stanford.edu/calendar/october-2017/daniel-pearl-world-music-days-concert

www.danielpearl.org

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Luck, good or bad, depends on the eyes of the beholder

| August 19, 2017 7:30 am

No luck! Argh! A train strike — there went the plan to take the TGV and be back to Paris in a few hours. It took us nearly two days.

The Musée de l’Orangerie is full of beautiful Monet’s larger-than-life water lilies murals, except I never saw them because l’Orangerie was closed every time I was in Paris.

However, we had our share of good luck. We had perfect weather in nearly all our trips and overcame hardships with unexpected kindness from strangers.

On the first day of our trip from Toulouse to the Atlantic, we drove the sagwagon into a low bridge and destroyed the bike roof rack. A Toulousean good samaritan saw the accident from his home and offered us his bike rack so we could continue our journey.

Good Samaritan Livet Bruno helped Eric Jorgensen to install the loaner bike rack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of our epic ride from Geneva to Nice over the Madeleine, Glandon, Croix de Fer, Galibier, Alpes d’Huez, Izoard, Var, and Cayolle, we took an easy day to stroll along the beach and to visit the beautiful Marc Chagall National Museum. Once at the museum, a large crowd gathered at the gate with a podium. An explanation ensued that the museum was closed momentarily so that the Chagall family could thank the Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger families for their contribution of personal letters and paintings for a special exposition. After the presentation, the museum would be opened and the entry fee waived — we were on cloud nine. Granted, if French is not your language, skip the talk and wait it out at a nearby café. No one in our ACTC group is fluent in French but we all stayed and knew the significance of this historic grouping of Chagall, Léger, and Picasso. On trips, we accept everything graciously and count our blessings.

 

 

Marc Chagall National Museum, Nice France

 

 

 

 

 

Good or bad luck?
At the museum ticket counter, an American woman was pounding at the table demanding that she and her daughter (who was calm and collected) be allowed to pay and enter the museum now! The ticket agent was very patient and polite but firm. It was not a communication problem because the ticket agent spoke English. I made an U-turn and did not want to witness the rest. Later, she left in a huff and her poor daughter was in tears, pleading with her mom to stay. They did not and I felt very sad for that young girl, mature beyond her age.

Same day, same event — sometime we make our own luck.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President



	
	 





				
			

Build me a bicycle that carries many

| August 6, 2017 6:13 am

“The water is wide, I can’t cross over
And nor do I have light wings to fly,
Build me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I”

This Scottish folk song from the 1600’s, popularized by Pete Seeger, Peter Paul & Mary, and the Seekers (my favorite version), gathers a strong sentiment that we can achieve more when working together.

We accomplished many a thing this last five years and it has been joyful to lead ACTC. We have built an infrastructure that values our volunteers and lent support to our humble Board of Directors, Tierra Bella, Sierra to the Sea, and Academy leaders.

Although the stability of ACTC and our leadership group is important, renewal is paramount to our long-term success. In the coming months, there will be leadership role turn-overs, please step forward and help guide us to our next chapter.

Metaphorically, life is much like rowing a boat or cycling up a mountain, we can’t coast. Just when we think we are ahead, the current or gravity takes over. May ACTC be always going up and away!

The mountain is steep, I can’t climb over
And nor do I have light wings to fly,
Build me a bike that carries many
And all will pedal, my friends and I

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

History Rhymes

| May 29, 2017 8:33 am

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme — Mark Twain

It always amazes me to see interviews of people who are clueless of important historical events. Given a multiple choice question of how the name Civil War came about, many picked the answer that the combatants were civilized! Not!

Bringing history to live
Although it is impossible to relive the past, preserving and visiting historical sites lend credence to history lessons. Adventure Cycling (www.adventurecycling.org) routes follow the Underground Railroad or the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Michelin maps guide to WWII battlefields from D-Day beaches to Sainte-Mère Église to the Battle of the Bulge.

Walking up the steep bank of Omaha Beach in Vierville-sur-mer and imagining being fired on by machine-guns and artilleries brought understanding of the bravery and hardship of those young soldiers. Many did not make it.

A visit to a Nazi concentration camp always brought me questions of what should and could have been done. Denial of their existence is not one of them. Mark Terrance, a friend of ACTC member Dennis Uyeno, wrote a book that maps all the concentration camps.
http://www.concentrationcampguide.com

On 60 Minutes, Veteran Ben Skardon, a Bataan death march survivor, described his experience indelible. Historical sites surround us, near and far. It is upon us to learn, to remember, and only let the good history rhymes.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

| May 10, 2017 11:16 am

On the eve of Bike to Work Day 2017, know that your voice matters but only if you speak up. Your action is equally important as a role model to family, friends, and colleagues. No need to shout or be a militant, instead emulate Dr. King on your way to the mountaintop.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” — Isaac Newton

Alex Zuckermann
It has been nearly a decade since Alex Zuckermann passed, but he will always be remembered by his namesake, the Alexander Zuckermann Bicycle Pedestrian Path on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

A tireless advocate for cyclists’ rights, Alex was instrumental in getting bicycle access to BART, AC Transit, and Bay Area bridges. Founder of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Alex’s accomplishment was “his ability to collaborate with a wide variety of bicyclists and other groups. Alex avoided embracing controversial ideas, yet he collaborated with people who espoused a variety of perspectives. He was neither a militant anti-highway opponent, nor did he adopt strident vehicular cycling principles. Instead, he rallied bicyclists to support particular projects. In turn, he persuaded elected officials and staff, building their comfort with our proposals. His pioneering advocacy opened the door for future gains by cyclists in the Bay Area,” wrote Robert Raburn, member of the BART Board of Directors.

Alex Zuckermann Bicycle Trail Eastern Span of Bay Bridge and Alex (red jacket) on Bicycling magazine cover


Ellen Fletcher

Ellen Fletcher’s Bryant Street Bicycle Boulevard was the FIRST of its kind in the US. Ellen, a PTA Mom, knew that safe routes to schools were critical, not just for safety, but would establish a healthy habit for children to last a lifetime.  A Holocaust survivor, Ellen spent her teen years as a refugee in World War II London, where she cycled to her factory job. This great habit never left her; Ellen was proud that she only refilled her car gasoline once a year. Ellen revived the Santa Clara Valley Bicycle Coalition (later rebranded as Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition) and was elected to serve as a Palo Alto City Council Member from 1977 to 1989.

There is not much that cyclists enjoy today that does not have Ellen’s imprint. A major accomplishment is Caltrain bicycle access that is second to none in the world, with a capacity of 72 bicycles per train, all without additional fare to cyclists. This is all thanks to Ellen and Daryl Skrabac, who started working with then Southern Pacific in 1977. At first not successful, the Peninsula Joint Powers Board inherited Caltrain in 1992 and they agreed to make room for bicycles. The beneficiaries, from bicycle access to Caltrain, BART, VTA, AC Transit, and Ferry, are not just the cyclists. Studies show that we are the most consistent users and contribute to the bottom line of these public transportation agencies in good and bad time.

“Ellen’s list of achievements and accomplishments could fill a book, but suffice it to write she’s inspired thousands,” wrote Richard Masoner, contributor to SF.StreetsBlog.org. Ellen Fletcher passed away in 2012.

Ellen on her namesake Bike Boulevard and on Caltrain

Inspirational and iconic figures make great stories but their accomplishments will lie in vain if our generation does not take up the challenge and continue to the mountaintop. Do not think for a minute that what Alex and Ellen fought for will always be here, so please stand up and be counted. In fact, go ahead and stand on Alex’s and Ellen’s shoulders. They would not want it any other way.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

If only we take the time…

| March 1, 2017 9:19 am

When travelling, it is always exciting to visit historical places: the Paris Mouffetard cafés where Hemingway met with Gertrude Stein and Picasso; Gare St-Lazare where Monet would setup his easel; or Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh roamed the melancholically beautiful wheatfield with crows in tow.

Closer to home at Cannery Row, a faded wooden shack stands between imposing buildings, mostly unnoticed by the thousands of visitors hurrying to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The Doc Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories looks so out of place yet it is filled with a proud history, if only the walls could talk. It was there where John Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts. Ricketts became a good friend and mentor to Steinbeck. Ricketts was fictionally portrayed in many Steinbeck novels: Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, Burning Bright, Dubious Battle, and the classic Grapes of Wrath.

Ricketts also trained the great mythologist Joseph Campbell whom George Lucas gave credit to his influence in creating Star Wars.

Ed Ricketts was a scientist ahead of his time. Though he made a living collecting and selling marine species to Universities and Colleges, he was an early advocate of now-common concepts such as habitat, predator-prey relationships, and intertidal organisms in an ecological context. Ricketts and Jack Calvin’s textbook “Between Pacific Tides” remains in use today and is the best-selling book of the Stanford University Press.

Sadly, Ricketts was killed when his stalled car was hit by a train. A beautiful Ricketts Memorial now resides at the train-crossing turned bicycle path at Drake Ave and Wave St. Take the time to enjoy our local treasures on your next bicycle ride to Monterey.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Doc Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories

Ricketts Memorial @ Drake Ave & Wave St