Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One More..... "My Endless Summer"

For you people that might check back.... because it's never really over :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time to say "Goodbye"....

Yeah, I know. I've been putting it off. But it is time to say goodbye to all my Bloggers. I hope you guys liked reading about my adventures. Maybe this will turn into a Blog about my cycling life sometime? but my life is cycling, so I can just keep them one in the same.... Hmmm, maybe I'll do another tour next year? and I can pick up with that tour! that would be GREAT! If 42 Below wants to do another tour again next year, I've decided I'm totally down. I loved the trip, and it would be even more great to take it all in again, do a couple things different. Let loose a little more. Stay up late. Drink with new friends, instead of being so uptight about riding the next day. Who needs sleep? eh! Take naps so I can party more. Bring a faster bike :D so I can keep up with the boys more easily and more often! Take a better camera. Be 25 so I can be on camera! although that's still 2 years away! no rush. Be more fit going into the tour, so I don't take so long to adapt. NAAAAH! Hmmm, what else? Of course there's always meet more, new, interesting people! I always love meeting new people, but especially cyclists. So there would hopefully be some old "veterans" next year, but of course some new rookies!

The trip was a blast, a great, once in a lifetime experience. I rode everything from back country roads to interstates, "chipped seal" to smooth pavement, 110+ weather to pouring down rain, camping in the rain to wonderful Holiday Inn Express hotels, humidity to scorching dry, flat days to 4,200 feet climbs, desert to forest, 23 miles to 110 miles, and basically: New York to California! It was a great ride. Thanks again to everyone who helped out and Mr. Nick Koch for picking this kid! I hope the ride continues again next year, I loved it and I met some great people. Pick me again next year!

muchos love,
le Tour de Fran: Francesca

aka: Franimal, Frantasia, Chesca, Fran and whathaveyou

I'm off to my next life adventure: New York! Yes, New York. I will be moving to work for Cycles Plus in Huntington, Long Island. So stop by and see me if you're in the area! Buy your next bike from me! or just chat and ask me about my tour if you'd like. Meet Campy! Come by and check us out, I'll be the chick at the shop. The cool chick.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Some of my FAVORITE people of the trip!

I didn't get pics of everybody, I wish I had, but here are some of my favs of my favs! Ok. really, I just wanted to put up the romantical picture of Matt and Bayla but I didn't have a good excuse. So that's the truth.

Fred, Bayla, and I of course are favorites, the Fab 5 will always hold a place in my heart, oh Brian aka Lumber Jack, and of course, everyone's favorite Italian: DADE!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Road Signs

A collection of road signs:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Picture Albums

Somewhere in that big state of Texas, one of the days we got a really early start.
Dunno where, probably Texas!
Leaving Oklahoma City, I took this one with my iPhone too.
Charlottesville, VA early morning start also.
Event in Richmond, VA at a nice country club on the water.

Just, just, just, juuuust uploaded all my pics. I took 929 pictures, including a couple of my bags, etc before I took off. I shall try to sort them into a couple categories. I'll dedicate this first one to my Momma, who said she enjoyed the sunrises the most, so here goes: 5 of the top Sunrise/Sunset Pics of the trip.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Recap from Lititz, PA

Hello All!

Man! what a ride! I can't believe it, 4,194.9 miles from New York City to Los Angeles, no rest days, hot and cool, rain or shine, wind and hills, flats and thrills. What a ride. It still hasn't really set in, I guess I was so stoked at the beginning that I really made the 42 riders, it all seemed surreal and too good to be true. Well, it wasn't exactly a luxurious bike tour across America with all the bells and whistles, it was still hard work even though it was supported. You could think of a million excuses not to ride your bike every morning for 58 days straight. I'm tired. It's boring. Today's gonna be a hard one. I did it yesterday. Yada yada yada.

But I did it. Every morning I woke up and I told myself I could do it and I got on my bicycle. The first 2-3 weeks were probably the hardest. The first week was really hard but I was so excited and impressed with all the miles I was doing, it kept me occupied. By week 2 and 3 your bottom has never felt so wonderful and your knees and legs couldn't be more thrilled you signed up for this!

Riding from San Diego to San Clemente was really cool. We were along the coast a lot, and that was my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, which just solidified going Coast to Coast for me. I didn't get to dip my wheels in the Atlantic or the Pacific, but I don't really care, I've seen both via bicycle on this trip and that is enough for me. The last 2 days weren't easy days either. I was thinking they were gonna be pretty short, but they were both in the 70 mile range or so. The cue sheet on the last day was so messed up and confusing that everyone that didn't SAG added a good 10 miles. Yep. You think it's the last day? You think it's only 65 miles today? NOPE. Get lost at mile 65 and realize that you still have a good 10-15 left in an unfamiliar, busy, busy town, ugh. That was so frustrating and it completely broke my spirits. Being completely lost in the city limits of LA, my iPhone got pretty messed up from the heat and abuse of the tour so it was not dependable at all. Here I am at the Long Beach Airport, 20 miles from the end, and I still DO NOT understand this cue sheet. So I called Nick and Blaise (b/c at least the phone part of the iPhone works!) and between the two of them I remembered enough street names and verbal directions to get back on route. Oh Lordy. But it's over. I made my way to the Holiday Inn LAX, thinking that I'm dfl, and Mr. Roy is about a block in front of me! And he hits all the lights and I get all the reds, and Roy totally beats me to the finish line on the last day. Haha. But I wasn't the last one, several people came trickling in from the North and South route after I checked in and got settled.

The last day was very stressful for me. As soon as I arrived, I had to get all my bags and everything I've accumulated over the last 2 months out of the van and truck and get everything ready to go tonight, so I could leave first thing at 5:30 am in the morning :/ So I grabbed all my gear, I took a quick celebratory swig of whiskey from Chris's bottle (for him of course,) I got a bike box, and I started packing up my bike and minimizing all my stuff, trying to be as efficient as possible. It took my hours and hours to pack up my bike, people were constantly coming in and out of our room, drinking, celebrating, hootin' and hollering. I took a short break to eat some pizza. I final got Fedex worked out for my bike, after no help at all from my Tour Managers that rudely told me I was "on my own," apparently making it to LA wasn't just for us riders. And I took off for Mountain Bike Oregon the next morning. Which was awesome!

It's good to be back in Lititz. Not that I want to stay here forever, but there's nothing wrong with the fresh smell of chocolate in the air on a warm, sunny afternoon. I got in Monday around 11:15, after my final flight was delayed over an hour. The right engine wouldn't start. My little Campy missed me! and Isabel told me I've lost a lot of weight, which is always nice for a lady to hear! I'll have to tell my Pop that. I can't wait to go to Cafe Chocolate and see Selina, it's the best chocolate and coffee in the world, and I'm extremely confident in saying that. So if you're ever in Lititz, PA check out Cafe Chocolate and the Wilbur Chocolate factory. They're the only reason I still live here!

I got Belle in on Tuesday morning, not even a full 24 hours after I got in! FedEx mistakenly overnighted my bike across the country. I hope that doesn't cost me a fortune! I was glad to see my bike in so soon though, didn't give them enough time to beat it up at all. So I unpacked and built up my bike, gave her a full tune up, tightened and lubed, and she runs like a brand new DREAM machine! Love her!

So the moral of this story is basically this: RIDE YO BIKE! Yep. Ride your bicycle across the country, everyone in the world, every day for 2 months. Ok, maybe not that drastic. But really, ride a bike most preferably, or just do what you love. Life is short, don't put off things you've always wanted to do. I learned a lot from all of our various riders. We came in all shapes and sizes, we were all different ages, from a 21 year old female to Roy at age 73! From our hardcourt bicycle messengers to brand new cyclists that have only been cycling a year, to everything in between. I learned a lot about people, life, the road, bicycles, maintenance, fitness, food, and the humongousest state ever: Texas.

I really want to thank a couple people that made this tour possible..... First and foremost, I want to thank 42 Below and Javelin for coming up with this idea and sponsoring me to have a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can say first hand that 42 Below Vodka is delicious and you should try some. I was also thrilled to ride for such a good cause: The Alliance for Biking and Walking. I also want to thank Josh at Cycles Plus in Huntington, Long Island, he outfitted me with my wonderful bike, a Specialized Tricross (Belle,) he did a 3D Body Geometry fit, and totally hooked me up with all my spare parts, clothing, equipment, and everything we could wrangle our brains for that I might need, that I really never ended up using! I highly recommend Cycles Plus if you're in that area, they know their stuff, and they carry the best. A big thank you to all my friends and family that supported me: Gabe, Terry, Nora, Pam, Andrea, Megan, Josh, Selina, Thomas, Shelby, Christie and Brian, James and MaryRea, my little nieces Maci and Ana, and all others I might have missed, but were still there in spirit.

Most of all, I want to thank my wonderful Parents. Their endless love, support, and encouragement for all the crazy shit I do keeps me going. I love you guys so much, and I couldn't have done anything without you. You're the BEST parents I could've asked for.

And thank you Isabel, you've been a great supporter. Thank you for logging my miles, updating my blog every day, giving me motivational speeches on days I didn't feel like riding, and not subletting my room while I was gone for 2 months!

And a BIG thank you to my Trusty Tricross, Belle. She logged every mile of every day with me, good times and in bad, she took care of me and I took care of her. Great bike.

Thank you all for reading, as Nick would say "I like you all."

Ride on!
Francesca/Franimal/Chesca/Fran/Frantasia, etc etc

Stayed tuned though, I'll put up some of my favorite pictures from the trip when I get them all uploaded in the next couple o' days!

Friday, August 21, 2009


San Clemente, CA to Los Angeles, CA

So, the day was a lot longer than expected! But no worries! Cause Chesca went NY to LA with ZERO rest days. The first pic is Belle ready to go, then the LA county line, followed by Huntington Beach!

The last 2 pics are of the non saggers. First the Southern Route Fab 5, then the non-saggers of the whole tour! Way to represent the ladies Fran! I'm so proud...and I'm sure everyone else is as well!

Have fun at Mtn Bike Oregon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day 57: Ridin' Along the Coast

San Diego to San Clemente, CA

A really hilly, cloudy day but hey, only 1 DAY left!

LA Tomorrow!!!

The Home Stretch......

Well hello everyone!

surprised I'm writing again so quick? You gotta love internet access at the Holiday Inn Express! Let's see, so I've climbed and descended about 4,200 feet since last time. That was quite the ride!

Brawley to Julian
The start of the ride was pretty slow and uneventful, I think I was still a little worked from the 90 mile day before, the legs just weren't in it to win it. We left town right after sunrise and worked our way out to a farming kind of area, it was a really pretty ride. I rode ok in the beginning and then after mile 20 or so I was kinda tired. Too early to be tired! We took a sharp left and headed towards mountains. Oh dear. They didn't get bad until the very end though. I remember sitting at the van at mile 50 or so, changing a slow leaking flat, and the hills didn't start to show yet. After I left the van my tire went flat again, right at the 1,000 ft elevation sign. Awesome. Failed patch. So I switched it one more time, my tires were getting pretty worn too. Switched out the tube, stopped at the dropped water spot and slowly I felt more tired and more tired because the incline was so unnoticeable. As the scenery got more beautiful, I noticed I was working my way not only through the mountains but along side of them. The road was kind of part of the side of one mountain, it was really cool. The landscape changed from desert and sand to a variety of cactus to TREES! yes TREES!! Oh my gosh, I never thought I'd be so happy to see a tree before! No more desert! There were also mountains of rocks and boulders that were real purty too. So like I said, as the scene gets nicer and nicer the hills get bigger and bigger. Then they come and don't stop, it's just switchback after switchback going up, up, up! I made excuses to stop along the way... as my legs get heavier and the air gets thinner. It was just pretty, I had to take pictures, right? :) You have no idea what a relief it was to see that 4,000 ft elevation sign! After that I got reacquainted with gears again! How fun! I rolled down into Julian and went to Julian Coffee House, ate a wonderful breakfast/lunch/dinner... and finished out the last 3 miles (all uphill!! Grrrr) to the campsite. Slept ok, it was actually chilly, so I got to use my sleeping bag right off the bat!

Julian to San Diego
Sooooo remember all those climbs/hills from yesterday? Yep, FUN TIME! I'd say about 70% or more of the day was spent descending. SO much fun! I rode down the first 10-20 miles and hit my 4,000 mile mark. 4,000 ft one day, 4,000 miles the next! How cool! The ride into San Diego was a lot of long, beautiful descents, even after we got out of Julian. There were at least 2 super bomb climbs that were completely unnecessary, but whatyougonnado? I was playing leap frog with Brian all morning and as we worked our way down closer to the coast and SD we stopped in to see his sister at her office. She took us out to eat, and it was cute to see the brother-sister interaction, makes me miss my big bro and sis :/ She was super nice and she and a couple friends came out to our event last night. We stayed at the International Hostel right in downtown, and that was probably the coolest place we've stayed at the entire trip! It was extremely unique with bright, vibrant, varied colored walls, tons of natural sunlight pouring in from windows and sky lights, and 3 floors! There were couches, sofas, and comfy chairs in every nook and corner. The kitchen on the third floor was massive as well. I'm beginning to become a fan of hostels......

San Diego to San Clemente
Today's ride wasn't all that great for me. It was actually really cool all morning and I was breaking into a cold sweat, so I had that lovely sickly feeling and I was cold for the first 40 miles. Ugh. But it was super gorgeous to see the COAST! The Pacific Ocean! I've never seen it before. Still haven't touched it yet. I'm saving it for tomorrow! It warmed up a little later, and I did see more bike riders today then ever before. There were bike lanes galore all day, and we rode through Camp Pendleton. The headwinds were not nice through Pendleton. I was going a good 10 mph, not feeling so hot. We cut onto a "bike path" immediately after Camp Pendleton, aka an old runway? It was about 3 lanes or so wide and not a soul in sight! Just the occasional rider. I saw a dude on a SL2 and rode with him for a little and chatted, he was asking about the ride and what have you. After we chatted for a while I told him not to let me hold him back, I was just cruising it out today, so he took off. The road took an S-curve and then he was out of sight. Must be nice riding that 15 (or less) pound bike! One day Francesca, one day. The rest of the ride was easy breezy after the bike path, and when I thought I had arrived at the Holiday Inn Express, I turned a curve to see a good 18% or more grade climb to the top by the hotel. Thanks for that! It was short though. But still, really? Really Holiday Inn? You couldn't have put it at the bottom of the hill? Today I packed up all my camping gear and some extra clothes and shipped them home. I'll beat them there though. I ate pizza at San Clemente Pizza Cafe: delicious. I'm gonna go finish it now that I think about it.... it's sitting in my fridge. Mmmm. Well folks, I do believe that's alls I gots for now. Tomorrow: LA, aka finish line! Whoop whoop!!! Got a full day ahead of me tomorrow though, I gotta pack up Belle and get her ready to ship out too :( I'll miss her! But I'll see her back in PA, I'm sure she'll like a rest day too.

Ride on!