Day 36 – Monday, July 23, 2001

Lafayette, CA - Santa Cruz, CA

97.16 Miles
15.03 Average Speed
6:27:42 Ride Time
6:00 am Departure
8:00pm Arrival
Total Trek Miles-2184.95 miles

            The header is correct in identifying the beginning and end points of our trek today; however, the hardest part of the journey was not spent on a bicycle today—it was during the few hours we were able to meet with the children and family of those with EB. Three hours into our trip, after two flat tires and two broken spokes, down the city streets of South San Francisco along El Camino Real, we arrived at Stanford University where several families awaited to greet us with a loud cheer.

            Words cannot describe the feeling one gets while being among those whom have been affected by this terrible disease. The feelings are those of disbelief that an individual can bear such pain, as well as gratitude for one's own well being, while at the same time complete amazement at the strength displayed by the family and friends of each of the children who were in attendance that had some form of EB.

           The part I liked best was when these kids, pained and somewhat crippled from EB, walked to the front and held signs that said, "We Love the EB Bikers," "Pedaling for Pennies" and "Thank You Biker Boys." It was also neat watching the bikers interact with the children. They took pictures with the kids, showed them their bikes, raced with them in their wheelchairs, and carried them ever so carefully around the picnic area.     

           I sat in amazement as I listened to some of the daily tasks these children face--daily gauze changes, frequent treatments, and even operations. They are in pain and do not have the freedom to run and play like they deserve. But, not one child wore a scowl or had a bitter attitude. They were as cute and as friendly and as childlike as could be. I want to be more like them. I also want to appreciate the health that I enjoy, and especially the health of my baby boy.

Dr. Layne speaks about the current state of research in the Stanford Dermatology labs.

           Now for the more boring tidbits about the trip. We started out this morning by taking BART from Lafayette to Daly city by barely making the 6:35 train, which was the last one before the conductor announces over the loudspeaker that "bikes are not allowed on the train during commute hours." Once we disembarked in Daly City all ten of us stood around waiting for the leader to take charge. Several of us made a necessary pit stop before we mounted our bikes and headed to Stanford. This motley crew included Craig Stevens, the inspiration for the bike trip in the first place, Daryl Rains, Bob Garff, Sean Garff and me, Steve Hoopes, as well as the original five.

           "Leader, where shall we go?" Rocky and Jake each had a map but neither one made commands, or insisted we "hurry up", or got mad, or anything. It was like they had been biking together for over 2,000 miles and had long since realized that such nonsense was fruitless and decided it was just easier to read each other's minds. I believe they can, and were. The five of them were communicating via neurological brain waves only obtainable by being together for over 5 weeks pumping 60-70 pound bikes up and down the Western half of the United States.

           Then without loud words or stilty demands the five of them saddled up and headed towards the road. The other five, me included, pompously got on our light racing bikes, and motioned at drivers to "look out" because we had been biking for a whole two minutes, and we owned the road! It seemed that because we had been reading the daily updates we felt we could take ownership of the miles racked up by the original five, who had been on the road for what must seem like to them, forever.

            At the first stop light an original, I think it was Jake, assured us that however sad they looked on a bike, that in fact they had ridden all the miles the daily updates claim they had. We joked back that we were going to make sure none of them grabbed a taxi to the next stop. Maybe one or two of the "extras" should have. Keep reading...

           Yes, Dan is MacGyver. After just a few miles Bob got a flat, then another one, both of which Dan repaired in record time. Next, the bumpy city roads claimed two spokes, one of which Dan replaced on the spot. At Stanford, one of the spouses of an EB researcher, Ranch Kimball, let us in on a little secret — how to get to Highway 1 in one piece. Instead of the busy, shoulder-deficit Highway 17, Ranch, an experienced tri-althelte, led the remainder of us (the original five, Bob Garff, and myself) up Sand Hill Road to Old La Honda Road, a 3 mile incline. Next, we crossed Skyline Blvd, and then sped downhill spitting ourselves out on Highway 1. Although the route added about 40 miles to the mapped trip for this day, I think we were all glad that we had taken a path with very few cars to run us over.

           Once we could see the ocean, our spirits were lifted and the next 40 or so miles to Santa Cruz did not seem so daunting. As someone mentioned in an earlier update, there is truly something about the ocean that makes you pedal harder. It is either that, or the thought that once you finish the alotted miles, a warm bed awaits-- at least that was the case for the group tonight. We stopped for snacks and sandwiches at a local beach-side shack with the goal "EAT TO FUEL." Dan's oldest brother, Jon, looked for me along Highway 1, and just outside of Santa Cruz he found me. I left the determined group to conquer the last few miles to Santa Cruz as a group of six.

  day 37