By Karen Kefauver – Sentinel correspondent
July 10, 2009
Link to Sentinel article
For many cyclists, summer truly starts in July, when
the Tour de France ramps up and the bike buzz centers on the drama
unfolding during the world’s most prestigious road race.
The 96th annual Tour de France started July 4 in
Monaco and will end 21 stages later on July 26 with a total distance of
2,174 miles. With the comeback of the seven-time champion Lance
Armstrong, 37, after a three-year retirement from cycling, Le Tour is
capturing an even wider audience this year. While the international
cycling superstars climb the gut-busting peaks of Europe, some bold
local cyclists are tackling challenging bike tours of their own, on
trips across the United States and in Africa and Croatia.
A Wheel Reunion
Bart Coddington, 65, hatched an ambitious plan to
ride across the United States to his 50th high school reunion in Rye,
N.Y., in 2006, after reading an article about similar adventures in
Adventure Cycling Magazine. Coddington had a few years to prepare for
the event — or so he thought. Turned out the reunion date, originally
set for 2012, was bumped up to 2009, so the Santa Cruz County resident
had only a few months to get in shape for the 4,000-mile cross-country
Pedaling solo, on a bike packed with four bulging,
waterproof bags containing his camping gear, Coddington left July 1 and
plans to arrive in New York the first week of October. So far, this
sturdy cyclist’s daily mileage has ranged between roughly 60-80 miles.
From the beginning, the president of the Santa Cruz County Cycling Club
got a sample of the perilous road conditions while riding at Devil’s
Slide on Highway 1 between Montara and Pacifica.
“This was some real white-knuckle cycling,”
Coddington wrote on his online journal. “The road has cement barriers on
the edge of the road to hold back rock slides, hence no room for
cyclists. Add to that very steep climbs, where we were doing about 3 mph
and holding up long lines of cars that were afraid to pass.”
One massive hurdle, the Sierra Nevada Mountains,
required Coddington to climb a total of more than 16,000 feet. Kathy and
Phil Trissell, owners of Sprockets, reported seeing Coddington on windy
Hwy. 89 on their way home from a Nevada road trip last weekend.
“He looked strong and happy as he headed up Carson
Pass,” they said, via e-mail. “His bike was running well. He was almost
to the top and it looked like there was plenty of steam left in the
Coddington has logged more than 500 miles now, and with a few thousand miles left, you can follow along at crazyguyonabike.com.
Tanzania by Unicycle
While Coddington was beginning his transcontinental
tour of the U.S. on two wheels, friends Nathan Hoover, Corbin Dunn and
Dunn’s wife Louise Lovelle, were finishing a trek across Kenya and
Tanzania, in eastern Africa, on unicycles. Their 16-day tour, which
finished July 5, was organized by Escape Adventures, which specializes
in trips for unicyclists. Hoover’s wife, Grace Fleming, who rides a
three-wheeled recumbent bike for comfort, joined the group in visiting
two game parks: Amboseli National Park in Kenya and Ngorongoro Crater in
Hoover, 50, a Los Gatos resident, trains for his
trips on long-distance rides in Corralitos, on Empire Grade and at
Wilder Ranch. Next up for Hoover, who has also toured India and Vietnam
by unicycle, is the 15th International Unicycle World Championships and
Convention in New Zealand at the end of the year.
Croatia awaits Santa Cruz Cyclists
As the organizers for Strawberry Fields Forever ride
and the founders of Cyclists for Global Exchange, Frank and Vita
Pritchard of Santa Cruz devote many hours to planning other people’s
bike adventures. This summer, they are embarking on a grand bike tour
after packing up their house and putting everything in storage. They
won’t be back in town until Thanksgiving.
“We’ll be bicycling the West Coast of America for two
months and flying over to Europe and visiting France, Italy and
Croatia, bicycling and living in our tent along the way,” e-mailed Frank
Pritchard in mid-June.
The Pritchards have already begun the domestic leg of
their trip. In mid-August, they and a handful of their companions from
the U.S. trip, including several from Santa Cruz, will fly to Europe.
They will tour France and Italy before joining the Cyclists for Cultural
Exchange group going to Croatia in October.
Cycling Closer to Home
You don’t have to travel as far as Africa or for
months at a time or by unicycle to have a bicycling adventure this
summer. Later this month, the 10th annual Santa Cruz Mountains
Challenge, which begins in Scotts Valley, will give cyclists a day’s
adventure, or at least weary legs. The ride offers a 100-mile and a
65-mile course, both chocked with hills. For those who want less of
challenge, check out the organization, Mere Mortals Mountain Biking
[mere-mortals.org], which schedules area rides and promises,”No
pressure, no egos.”
So, when you are not watching the Tour de France, get
out on your bicycle — whether you have one, two or three wheels — and
discover why this county is considered a slice of heaven for cyclists.