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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Waves to Wine Ride 2012

I have only ever been to San Fransisco once and in that short period of time acquired some sympathy for that old crooner Tony Bennett. Seemingly he had  left one of his major organs there.
Although my visit was brief, it was long enough to develop an overwhelming desire to return. 

Not many people know that when Tony Bennett first sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" the song was actually the B side to "Once Upon A Time."
In California San Francisco may also be on the B side to Los Angeles but just like the song we all know which one is more popular.

Situated at the end of its very own peninsula the city is bordered by The mighty Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east. Inland the mainland soon elevates creating a natural amphitheatre overlooking the great metropolis  which can be viewed in its entirety.
 Through my life I have visited America many times and have zig zaged across its vast continent. New York Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles,  Seattle, Miami, Houston, Nashville, New Orleans, Denver and many places in between. I have  tried to assimilate the 'American Way' and understand how this 'young' country has evolved.
San Francisco seems oddly out of kilter - as if it does its own thing. It also seems oddly European.
If the inhabitants all spoke French and donned a few berets you could almost imagine you were on the French Riviera, only the wine is cheaper and tastier.

As I started writing this blogpost I wanted to establish what other free thinkers thought.
Unsurprisingly I am not alone.
 One day if I go to heaven…I’ll look around and say “It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco”. (Herb Caen)
You know what it is? (It) is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away. (John Steinbeck)
San Franciscans are very proud of their city, and they should be. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. (Robert Redford)
Of all cities in the United States I have seen, San Francisco is the most beautiful. (Nikita Kruschev)
I prefer a wet San Francisco to a dry Manhattan. (Larry Geraldi)
I never dreamed I’d like any city as well as London. San Francisco is exciting, moody, exhilarating. I even love the muted fogs. (Julie Christie)
In all my travels I have never seen the hospitality of San Francisco equalled anywhere in the world. (Conrad Hilton)
 It is a good thing the early settlers landed on the East Coast; if they’d landed in San Francisco first, the rest of the country would still be uninhabited. (Herbert Mye)
 What fetched me instantly (and thousands of other newcomers with me) was the subtle but unmistakable sense of escape from the United States. (H.L. Mencken)
Every man should be allowed to love two cities, his own and San Francisco. (Gene Fowler)
 God took the beauty of the Bay of Naples, the Valley of the Nile, the Swiss Alps, the Hudson River Valley, rolled them into one and made San Francisco Bay. (Fiorello La Guardia)

San Francisco is poetry. Even the hills rhyme. (Pat Montandon)
I love this city. If I am elected, I’ll move the White House to San Francisco. Everybody’s so friendly. (Robert Kennedy)
I like the fog that creeps over the whole city every night about five, and the warm protective feeling it gives…and lights of San Francisco at night, the fog horn, the bay at dusk and the little flower stands where spring flowers appear before anywhere else in the country…But, most of all, I like the view of the ocean from the Cliff House. (Irene Dunne)

If somebody was to ask me 'What would be your dream cycle trip?'
My answer would go like this:-
'Id start in San Fransisco about 7am on a Saturday morning whilst its still relatively quiet.
I'd cycle through part of the city ................
Then along San Francisco bay towards and over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Id have a break and sample some wine before exploring the wine region more fully the following day'

Well the MS Society obviously read my mind and have a two day event 22/23rd September 2012 called 'Waves to Wine' which starts in San Francisco and finishes in the Sonoma wine region.
It takes two days and is about 150+ miles.
After discovering this gem I had little choice but to call my benevolent twin brother and share my dream.
Within hours of talking to him he had entered our Anglo/American Mule Team. So far we have 5 Mules a number we will look to multiply over the coming months.

Having already completed the MS 150 Houston to Austin 5 times I know that the quality that goes into the organisation and support will be be second to none.
This support was evident as soon as we had registered in the shape of Liz Bernstein who works for the MS Society.
Its not easy trying to logistically advise a global gathering of cyclists but she does a remarkable job.
She also has Anglo/American links.
After being brought up in Southern California Liz actually went to University in the same county that I live in -which is in my beloved Yorkshire, England. It also contains some of the Anglo Mule favorite riding territory.

Whilst at university Liz started running (Big Hills in Bradford) and in 2002 did a marathon in Hawaii where she raised $3,000 for AIDS.
Sadly in 2006 her sister was diagnosed with MS and Liz wanted to raise money and awareness. Within 3-4 months she had gathered a team of 17 friends and moved from running to cycling entering the Waves to Wine ride and raising  $10,000.
The following year she had gathered 65 people in her team and  raised $65,000.
This is a great ride and a great cause.
If your thinking about entering she is ready at hand to advise.
Mules Mission
In life there are three sorts of people - Those who do, those who watch, and those who are unable to do either.
Modern society has tended to make people selfish, where we are pushed into a mindset to 'look out for yourself'. Problems that affect us all are often discarded as 'Not my problem'. We are encouraged to be 'watchers'. I thank god everyday that I am healthy and try to see the world through rose coloured glasses even though they may mist up from time to time. When I gave up Rugby at the age of 40 I needed a new pastime and cycling became my inspiration. Cycling provided me with the floral glasses, to see the beauty of the world. It allowed me to get off the highway and hear myself think. It introduced me to like minded people where I redeveloped the art of conversation and debate. It provided me with a viable alternative form of transport. I became a 'doer'. Through hours in the saddle reflection becomes easy, as does the realisation of privilege. Not the privilege association with a position in life, but privilege that I am fit and well.
When I helped set up the Mules 'Travels with my Mule Cycling Team' we decided that we wanted to harness our cycling into fundraising, by taking part in sponsored charity rides. There are thousands of worthy charities who are all desperate for support, so the question always comes up - who do you support? I used to beat myself up over this one. Sadly we all know somebody who has been affected by some illness or social misfortune. Its a tough question and I think the answer is that it does not matter. To help any other person is good.
Another question people ask me is why do you support charities in the USA? My answer is the same - to help any person is good. If there is a breakthrough in medical research in Timbuktu I am sure they would share it with the rest of the world - It should not and does not matter who finds cures for any illness.


1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a great place for a ride! I too love SF. A great town for a walk, a good cup of coffee, and some great dining. A friend from San Jose has asked me to come out and ride in the bay area. One of these years I'm going to have to do it. Can't wait for the report on the Mules in the Bay.


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