Archive for the 'ACTC Touring' category

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

A Dilemma

| February 19, 2017 3:45 pm

During our last visit to Dalian, China, a child, no older than 5, came up and hugged Jean, asking for money. We knew not to give children money or sweets because the apparent kind act may create beggars of them. Furthermore, parents then will send their children to beg rather than to school. However, what ensued in that encounter still bothers me today. A man walked up, hit the child in the head, and scolded him for begging. The mother quickly came out to retrieve the child. Poor kid, he was crying from pain and shock but way too young to understand. We felt very bad.

As I will embark to cycle in Vietnam this fall, it would be great to learn better ways to help begging children. Please write to me at president@actc.org and I will post them at a future Black and Blue Bottom.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

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!

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

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Amy celebrating at Passo Stelvio

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Bailing, poor planning!

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!

Best,
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!

Best,
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.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Taking the Long Way Home

| November 15, 2015 9:45 pm

Timeless travel books encouraged us to take a journey and to find our way.

“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes”, wrote Antoine St-Exupéry in his children’s book “Le Petit Prince”.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”, wrote Mark Twain in “The Innocents Abroad”. Other of Twain’s classic American novels are Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and many more.

John Steinbeck, known for the Grapes of Wrath, authored books with local flavor in Tortilla Flat, East of Eden, and Cannery Row. Doc Ricketts’ Pacific Biological Laboratories still exists and can be visited on special occasion.

More recent authors penned excellent travel books as well: Tom Vernon’s “Fat Man in France”; Karin Muller’s “Hitchhiking Guide Vietnam”; Andrew Pham’s “Catfish and Mandala”; Peter Hessler’s “River town” and “Oracle Bones”, and Barbara Savage’s “Miles from Nowhere”. Although many travel books are not cycling books, however, the theme is just as relevant, encouraging us to follow our heart, to search our soul, to seek the unknowns, and to discover new exciting things.

On our recent Big Sur Tour led by Brian Chun, nearly half our group took a wrong turn and went on Sweetwater to the Pinnacles instead of Carmel Valley. Guy Neenan apologized profusely to the entire group but no one was upset because ACTC members are what these travel books described — we enjoy taking the long way home.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Sierra to the Sea

| May 8, 2015 6:40 pm

The days are longest in June, the mountains most golden, the weather mostly warm, and the coast most beautiful even when mysteriously basked in fog. Sierra to the Sea, an uniquely ACTC event created by the late Rod Annable (who’s picture still graces the STTS webpage: www.sierratothesea.org) goes from Bear Valley to Golden Gate Park in seven days. The 28th anniversary tour is led once again by Steve Crosby and a very capable staff of 22 volunteers. Sierra to the Sea remains true to Rod’s goals of show-casing the beautiful riding areas of Northern California in an affordable way and remains the best cross-state ride, bar-none! I look forward to greet all the participants and to thank our wonderful staff at Bear Valley and then to welcome them home at the Golden Gate Park. “Well no matter where I wander, I will always find a welcome at the end of every journey, there will be friendly people waiting, California” sang the Kingston Trio. Have a safe journey in our beautiful Golden State.
PS. It is not too late to join the 2015 Sierra to the Sea – a few more spots!

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President