Oregon Ride Preview

Hello, Raptors!

Last year 5 fellow Veloraptors and I took a week-long cycling trip in Utah with Black Sheep Adventures, a San Leandro-based adventure sport company founded and run by former Backroads guide (and terrific fellow) Fred Ackerman.

The experience was fabulous—wonderful routes, lodging, organization, guides, and at a reasonable price considering all that was included. It felt like a Backroads trip without the high-end accommodations and exorbitant cost.

At my request, Fred has put together a trip for the Veloraptors in central Oregon and the Oregon Coast. The trip would be from October5 -October 10, 2014. There would be 5 riding days plus either a rest or optional ride day, and the distances would be typically 40-60 miles a day with up to 5500′ climb, some with optional longer rides. You would use your own bike, which would be transported by Black Sheep’s trucks from San Leandro. We would carpool to the starting point.

There will be a limit of 16 riders. We need a minimum of 8 riders for the trip to go. First come, first serve.

The cost for the 6 day trip would be $1895 double occupancy; $495 single supplement on each. DEADLINE FOR THE $100 DISCOUNT IS June 6

If you are interested, check out the detailed itineraries. Feel free to contact me for further information, and check out the company’s website: info@BlackSheepAdventures.com.


This could be a really wonderful experience for us all….


Poetry Corner April 2014


Bicycling with Mom on Foxen Canyon Road

In Memory of Gracie

December 15, 1913 – February 8, 2014

 I thought that you would love this, Mom,

because you once said, as I drove you

over Pinehurst Road and you looked

at the chaparral, “How can God

keep all of this in mind?” And you meant

that it was wonderful and beautiful

every crack in the bark every aspiring

leaf of manzanita turned sideways to the sun.

And because I think that just being outdoors

would thrill you after all that old age

and confinement and solitude

and arthritis and the one-hundred years

of living of which the last ten were

a challenge to us all.  And because together

together we would just love the freedom

and the speed and the risk and the downhills

together.  And because I want you to know

what I do when I go cycling to know how

much I love it and how the cool wind

feels on face and legs and how a bike

can tip and lean and swoop like a hawk

and you would feel what I could never

exactly tell you about the joy of it

in those effortless moments

just before the downhill

and the turning on the curves I could

go on and on.  But I don’t have to

because you’re here and laughing

and crowding in your shrieks and giggles

and the “Watch it!” and “Oh, my God!”

and your face looks forward and intent

on the pleasure of it all the doing it

with me. Your flannel nightgown is

snapping in the wind like a bright flag

in a windy March mid-morning,

like silk robes, like the controlled

feathers of an eagle’s wings,

as if, as if you were an angel like me

and we are in our own particular heaven.



Member Number of Rides Mileage Elevation
Bagnell, Bill 4 290.20 11,796.00
Blair, Steve 10 747.30 41,242.00
Brumell, Robin 3 235.45 8,396.00
Di Costanzo, Barbara 6 418.90 20,742.00
Di Costanzo, Larry 6 427.15 20,742.00
Gills, Bob 2 125.13 1,044.00
Goldenberg, Steve 8 555.73 24,985.00
Linden, Stephen 5 361.34 14,150.00
Klinedinst, Charlie 2 127.39 5,754.00
Machie, Fil 1 63.63 522.00
McTighe, Kevin 24 1,724.30 14,322.00
Mellin, Randy 5 338.45 12,944.00
Montello, Russ 4 245.45 8,993.00
Neal, Howard 1 61.50 522.00
Salma, John 1 61.50 522.00
Scrivani, Ron 3 188.76 1,566.00
Stein, Sue 1 61.50 522.00
Stewart, Susan 4 241.93 9,834.00
Thomas, Greg 3 203.29 522.00
Wilging, Tom 5 324.40 11,261.00
Total 98 6,803.30 210,381.00

Y-Rounder Rules

As many of you may know, during the past several years, several of our club members have participated in the Ultra Marathon Cycling Associations (UMCA) Y-Rounder ride club.  This club requires the participants to do 12 rides of from 90 -110 miles each year.  The Y-Rounder rules allow a rider a little leeway by permitting them to bank or make-up 2 rides a year.  So, simply stated, while the participants must complete 12 rides they can do the rides in 10 of the 12 months.

Beginning in January of 2014 the VeloRaptors will sponsor our own version of a Y-Rounder club.  However, our ride distances will be built around the standard metric century 100 kilometers (62 miles).  As with the UMCA rules, the participants’ must complete 12 rides and do one ride in at least 10 months.  For a ride to count, similar to the UMCA rules for the Y-Rounder Rides, our rules will accept a ride of from 55-68 miles.  We will from time-to-time plan our Y-Rounder ride to offer an extended traditional century ride as an option.   Our own Steve Goldenberg has offered to be the Y-Rounder statistician, so stay tuned for more on how to submit your ride information to Steve.

The first VeloRaptors Y-Rounder ride will be Saturday January 18th and start at the 416 26th Warehouse.  Randy Mellin will coordinate the ride with Ron Scrivani and the Saturday ride group. Of course, the two groups can ride at a different pace.  The route will be a figure 8 with the first half heading to Richmond and the second half going down to Hayward and back.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact Randy Mellin at 510.693.3338, or at Retmellin@gmail.com.

Club Ride Reminder – Steve Blair

VeloRaptors Cycling Club – Oakland (Montclair), California – weekly bike rides.

Sundays we meet at Nelly’s Java, 1952 Mountain Blvd, (next to the Post Office) in Montclair. Come early to socialize! Wheels roll at 8:30 am sharp!

We also ride on Wednesdays from Nelly’s, leaving at 8:30. There are occasional outlying rides as well.

On Saturdays there is a ride designed for beginners, which leaves from the Warehouse at 416 26th, Oakland (between Telegraph and Broadway. They meet at 8:45 and leave at 9am. These rides often take the Bay Trail to Richmond, where they stop for coffee and snacks. All riders are welcome!

VeloRaptors Great Rides This Year

Great Rides 2013

Canada to Mexico: A tale of three guys bicycling the Pacific Coast.  This summer, club members Kevin McTighe, Dale Perkins, and a friend, Bob Liles, had a great cycling adventure riding the Canada to Mexico ride from August 31 – September 30.  They were supported by Dale’s wife Jeanne and the family dog Chico.  Check it out here.

Paris To Barcelona: This summer club members Randy Mellin, Robin Brummel, Jeff Jones, Fred Morse and Randy’s nephew, Jeff Mellin, rode from Paris to Barcelona and over the Pyrenees mountains. They were joined by Alyston Short (Fred’s friend) who provided great SAG support.  Check it out at: www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/12900. 

Southern Utah: This summer  club members Sally Goodman, Gail Husson, Bruce Bennett, Barbara and Larry DiCostanzo, and Miss Linda has a great experience cycling around Southern Utah: Check it out here.

Spain, Italy, and France:  The bucket list rides of club member Carl Groch. Check it out at: www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/12300.

Southern Utah – Sally Goodman

Utah Bike Trip

September  2013




September 1

Las Vegas-Brian’s Head-Bryce Canyon

We met the group from Black Sheep Adventures and drove to Brian Head, Utah.  Our bikes and gear were transported from Berkeley by the company, so all we had to bring were our other clothes and such. The long drive was quite comfortable and pleasant and the VeloRaptors became acquainted with others on the trip.

We stopped several times along the way, and by the time people were ready to get on the bikes, it was mid afternoon. There was a light drizzle, and MissLinda and I chose not to ride in that, especially since the road was wet and the course was downhill. We stayed in the SAG wagon the first 35 miles, until there was no more rain and the road was dry. The air was fresh and riding felt wonderful as we went the final 22 miles to Bryce Canyon. The scenery was beautiful, especially in the early evening light.  The 8 miles near the entrance were on a bike path parallel to Highway 12…a real treat.  We stayed at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, where the rooms were spacious enough to hold our bikes and gear easily. Dinner was a late buffet at Ruby’s. 

Miles ridden for me:  22.  Climb: 1000’  Most of the rest of the group rode 56 miles.

September 2

Out and back from the hotel to Rainbow Point

We rode from our hotel to Rainbow Point and back, 20 miles each way, and we stopped frequently at the viewpoints.  What a beautiful place! Bryce Canyon is glorious. On two separate occasions Chinese people stopped me and asked me how old I was.  They were shocked when I replied “66”.  I wish their English were sufficient to explain why they were surprised. We had good weather for the ride, but seconds after we reached the hotel, the heavens opened up with rain.  Gail (my roommate) and I took a short hot tub, but left when we heard thunder nearby.

Miles ridden: 40  Climb: 2500’

 September 3

Bryce Canyon-Springdale, UT


Today’s ride of 83 miles included 43 miles on Highway 89.  Most of the way there was a rumble strip between the traffic and shoulder, and it never felt unsafe, but nevertheless much of that was not pleasant riding.  Past Carmel Junction the riding got prettier, with fields on either side and even a herd of grazing buffalo.  The ride into Zion National Park was the most beautiful I have ever done.  I have driven into the park many times, but nothing prepared me for the grand views one sees when you are not enclosed in a car. We arrived in the late afternoon, and the soft light on the reds and oranges of the rock was stunning.


We stayed at the Majestic View Best Western in Springdale, UT.  It was 3 miles from the junction to the park, on the very south end of the town. The room was large and had a nice balcony overlooking the pool. Upon arrival, we immediately took a very refreshing swim. Fred (our guide) took us to Zion Adventure Center, where we got fitted for neoprene socks and boots, a dry bag backpack, and a stout wooden pole for tomorrow’s hike.

Miles ridden: 83  Climb: 2000’

September 4:

The Narrows hike

We drove to the Zion Museum parking lot and took the shuttle into the park all the way to the Temple of Sinawa.  From there we walked a mile to the entrance of The Narrows. This is where the Virgin River leaves a walled canyon, and in low water when there is little threat of a flash flood, hikers are allowed access to hike up the shallow river. Of the many times we have visited Zion, the only other time there was access was in October, 2001.  We walked up the river about 2 hours, criss-crossing it numerous times, using poles to help keep our footing on the rocky bottom. In many areas we could walk along the side of the river, out of the water. It was a beautiful hike and felt very special. I really appreciated having the equipment that we had rented, as it kept us comfortable and safe.

 Miles walked: 9

September 5

Springdale UT-Jacob Lake AZ


The ride up and out of Zion was stunning.  It looked intimidating, but was actually not bad at all.  The route took us back through Carmel Junction and then on to Jacob Lake.  It was quite hot, and we stopped frequently at the SAG wagon for ice, drinks, and to cool off.  We also stopped at the town of Kanab for ice cream and lunch at a charming old cafe.  After that some people chose to sag, but Barbara, Larry, Ricardo, and I cycled the whole way to Jacob Lake.  We called ourselves “The Unvanquished”, as it truly was a challenge, and we all relied on the moral support of the others to make it. It also helped that we got some cloud cover the final 30 miles, which dropped the temperature a bit.  The last section was through a high forest, a distinct change from our earlier terrain. 

MissLinda’s derailleur broke, and could not ride the last half of the ride.  We stayed at the Jacob Lake Lodge, a funky but adequate facility.  The food and service were shockingly bad, but there was no other housing or eating option.

Miles ridden: 83  Climb: 7200’

September 6

Jacob Lake-North Rim, Grand Canyon-Las Vegas

The ride to the North Rim was beautiful, ranging from forest to rolling pastures.  The green was quite a contrast to our days in Utah. The Grand Canyon was not visible until we were right upon it as we reached the park campground.  We explored the historic lodge with its large stone patio that overlooks the rim and walked out to various viewing spots.  For all of us, climbing the steps back up to the lodge felt difficult, as our legs were tired and we are still noticing the effects of the altitude. I would love to return here and stay at the lodge.

Fred took us back to the campground, where we all took showers and changed into regular clothes for the 5 hour drive back to Las Vegas.  We stopped for dinner at a wonderful Thai restaurant  (Benja Thai and Sushi) in St. George UT.  We then drove back to LV and got to our hotel at 11:30PM.

Miles ridden: 45  Climb: 2000’

September 7

Trip leader: (and owner of Black Sheep Adventures): Fred Ackerman  6 ft 7” !

Guide: Mark Nielson

Notes: Black Sheep Adventures is a first-class operation but at a reasonable price.  Fred had worked for Backroads and learned how to run a good trip.  We had moderate but very comfortable accommodations. We were responsible for our own lunches and dinners, but there were so many snacks provided all day that we didn’t always buy lunch.  We generally ate together for dinner and paid for our own meals.  I liked the fact that the dinners were not fancy or overly long.  The SAG vehicles were always available and the guides extremely helpful.  Although I didn’t have any mechanical issues, those that did got immediate support from the guides. We each kept a bag in the van with extra clothes to add or drop off.  I LOVED having the SAG wagons so available.  5 days of riding was a perfect amount, especially having the hiking day in-between our two longest days. I loved the fact that we rode our own bikes yet didn’t have to transport them for the trip.  We drove them to Fred’s house in Berkeley before the trip and picked them up the day after.  The guide, Mark, drove the truck with all 13 bikes to and from Las Vegas. This was an ideal arrangement. The terrain included a lot of climbing, but it was never steep compared to the hills we are used to in the East Bay.  I never even got into my “Granny Gear”.  I never had any muscle soreness, but I could feel the effects of altitude throughout the trip. (we were riding at 7000-9000 feet altitude).


Essential items: Both red rear light and white front light; rear-view mirror on helmet; arm warmers; bandanas; sleeveless jersey; high visibility nylon vest; extra tote bag in addition to 22” rollerboard suitcase and bike duffel bag; Kindle; Aquafor ointment; Advil. I brought Banana letters but never used them.




Poetry Corner

Cowboy Christmas

For V.G.B.

He’s riding out while it’s still dark.
The creak of leather makes
A dry-sweet song, the only mark
On far black mountains’ shape.

In moonset, sage begins to glow,
The horizon faintly lightens.
Star lanterns from the dark hang low;
And make all white things brighten.

So white and blue, so calm and cold,
Man and his horse breathe clouds.
The quiet’s pooled in every fold
Of cloth, of earth, of sound.

Anon he spies a golden speck
That brightens coming nigh
Until he has to bend his neck
And look through creased brown eyes.

Up close there are three Mexicans
Broad hats with bright gold braid,
They smack each string of their guitars,
Full throat their loud refrain.

They sing of every love he’s known:
His mother, dad, dear friends;
And every future love he’s shown,
A girl, a wife, children.

With song they lead him to a shed:
The baby laid inside
Crows, smiles, grabs his hatless head
With laughing baby eyes.

Soft hands, fat feet, the too big face,
The belly like a ball,
All strike inside a deep down place:
Thick tears begin to fall.

When dawn comes clear and night is gone,
He says his thanks and parts.
And rides into the light alone
The song fast in his heart.


Lawrence N. DiCostanzo