Three days of rest sounded like an eternity when we were pushing 50 mile days through the rice fields north of the Bay Area, but it's amazing how time flies when you're not riding your bike. Oakland marked the first major transition of our trip - from inland to the coast, we caught our first view of the Pacific in the hills above Vallejo. It's a companion we'll be staying very close to for the next 9,000+ miles.
We had all sorts of stuff to keep us busy in Oakland, between hanging out with family and friends, running around doing errands to resupply our gear needs, and eating as much good food as possible (side question: why is it that road food in the US is a bunch of fried nastiness, and in other countries it's simple deliciousness?). Still, there were a couple of things that we had to make time for. One was making a day trip up to Petaluma visit Linda Garrigan and the great folks at CamelBak, who are supplying all our hydration needs for The Long Road South. CamelBak is a large company that still has the feel of a small business and it looks like an amazing place to work. We showed up at lunch time and there were employees hoping on their road bikes and lacing up their running shoes to get in a quick workout. The company even provides cruiser bikes that employees can check out if they wan't to make a run into town to pick something up for lunch. It was`awesome seeing that, if a company provides the environment and infrastructure to keep people moving, they'll readily take advantage.
After meeting some of the people that helped get us supplied, Linda gave a tour of the facility, including a peek inside their design lab, which featured some amazing toys and machines abusing water bottles and bite valves until they failed. All in all, a nice glimpse into the workings of a pretty awesome company.
A day later we made a trip up to Berkeley, which has been a place on the forefront of the disability rights movement since such a thing existed. Kelly and I wanted to go check out the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), which is doing amazing things getting people with disabilities outside and moving.
BORP occupies a couple of ramshackle-looking buildings near the Berkeley Marina. Greg, a tanned, wiry man with an exuberance of energy runs their adaptive sports programs. Greg cycled across Africa in the mid-90's and is especially excited to talk about bikes and BORP's cycling program. Many disabled sports programs operate under what I like to call a duckling mentality. Activities are group-based and highly structured, and as a result, participants who might simply want to do their own thing are liable to shy away. BORP's cycling program features a stable of adaptive bikes and allows program participants to show up, check out a bike, and take it out for the day. While we were there, we even ran into one of Kelly's old patients from Emmanuel Hospital, Jorgé, who comes by BORP regularly to ride one of their handcycles. He was super excited to hear about our long tour and eager to share his own bike stories. At BORP, staff and volunteers are around to help those who need it, but folks who can manage themselves have a place to try out different equipment and get a workout in on their own terms. As a way of facilitating physical activity among people with a wide variety of disabilities, it seems highly effective.
After visiting Borp, we headed back to Oakland to finish preparing our gear to head out on the road, this time with my sister Jessica and her boyfriend Steve , our first participants in The Long road South, riding with us. We've had some epic riding since leaving Oakland, and that story's to come shortly, but now I'm tired and it's time to take a shower, go to bed, and put in some more miles tomorrow.