In between busy shoot days; Jim has been gearing up for an amazing adventure cycling below sea level in Death Valley, CA.

Jim’s bike was shipped last week and is waiting for him in Nevada. Cycling through this intriguing and mystic landscape he will cover 267 miles in 5 days of riding.  Along the way, the course will wind and dive from high elevations of +11,049 to extreme low points of -282 miles below sea level…. the lowest point in North America!
 They say the moonlight dances across the stark desert canvas and the milky way looks so close you could touch it.
 Here is an interactive map, Jim created highlighting the route:   DeathValley Trip   
We’ll do our best to keep you updated along the way!

I just returned this weekend from a 350 mile ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a two-lane road winding along the ridge of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and Virginia. Originally a WPA project built between the wars, the Parkway was conceived as a series of connected vistas running the spine of the mountains, and was (and is) for pleasure vehicles only.  That, along with the fact that the speed limit is 45 mph, makes for a perfect (though challenging) cycling route.

We were about 40 riders, of all ages and coming from all over.  Riding around every turn we’d have yet another breathtaking view, to the point that we began to feel gorged by day two.

Had to wear my Boston jersey, of course!

Yeah, I see why they call it the Blue Ridge.

Here’s the Linn Cove Viaduct, a piece that they had to build around the side of the mountain.

We camped every night.  Here’s our little campground on the last night of the trip – what a finish!

During the course of the 6 days’ riding, I climbed a total of 32,000 feet.  I was always in either my highest or my lowest gears – rarely the middle ones – because there simply are no flat parts. I just kept reminding myself, “after every hill, there must follow a descent!”  It’s good to be back.  I’m not sore, just a little stiff.

Days 3 and 4

September 3, 2009

Spent last night camping in Mt. Humbug State Park.  The traffic on Hwy 101 is much better now, so that is a relief.  We’re riding along a curving strip of road with the majestic Pacific to our right — finally, this is what I came for!  Yesterday coming into camp huge clouds of fog were coming in, mixed with bright sun.  Very cool lighting effects which I hope to show when I can.

I expected the riders in my group to have heavier touring bikes than it turns out.  Other than me and two or three others, they are mostly riding lightweight road bikes with narrow tires.  Although they’re lighter, those bikes are more fragile and indeed several people have had multiple flats and other mechanical problems.  My Hillborne is performing great, and I am greatful for the 24/30 super low gearing.  We have one recumbent rider among us.

Tomorrow is my turn to do the cooking — we take turns and I’ve got two helpers who claim they’re bad cooks, but it should be fine.  The way it works is each afternoon after making camp, the cook crew goes out in the van to shop for dinner and the next day’s breakfast and lunch.

I’ve got a BIG climb ahead when I leave this library internet — could I be stalling? Time for me to head out.  – J

Almost on my way …

August 27, 2009

I had hoped to show more details on the five bikes, and to explain what makes each one special.  Well, that’ll have to wait as I’ve run out of time — but anyway, the one I’m using on my tour is the one with the “H” headbadge, a Hillborne made by Rivendell.  Riv is a small company based in Walnut Creek CA, and the Hillborne is set up for a trip like this with wider-than-normal tires, fenders for the rain, racks for bags, and super-low gearing for those mountains.  With that low gear I can ride almost slower than a slow walk, and in the mountains that may be just what’s needed!

As a get-ready for my big trip out west, Elena and I spent a few days in Newport, RI, and we both did a lot of riding.  Here’s a night shot of the Newport-Jamestown bridge which I took while waiting for our ferry boat:


This will be my last post from Boston.  I leave for Oregon this Saturday, and if I can get internet access I hope to add photos during my trip.  So long for now!

My Five Bikes

August 14, 2009


Here is my current fleet of bikes.  I’ll write more on the particulars later, but first, if some of you are wondering what’s the point of having 5 bikes, believe me I know people who have twice as many!  Each of these is unique in its own way, but the one thing they have in common is that they’re all steel.  Not having aluminum, titanium, or carbon frames makes me kind of old-school, but so be it.