Welcome! The VeloRaptors are a social group of cyclists based out of Montclair, Oakland. We offer regular rides on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday open to many experience levels and make sure to include a coffee/snack stop along the way. The majority of our rides are 30 miles or less, but we also have a group that enjoys planning longer, more challenging rides.

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

The Bakery Blog by Steve Blair

Have you Heard?  Our very own Steve Blair is becoming a super techie.  In his newest tech adventure he has started a blog about bakeries all us bike enthusiasts love to visit. So, check it out at:  “http://biketobakery.blogspot.com/“. 


Cyclist Encounters an Insect

This butterfly, the touch of a cat’s soft paw

Against my chest.  A short moment of vibration.

The soft claw of wing’s edge.   Then air.

                               Lawrence N. DiCostanzo

                              On the Volcano road,

                              May 27, 2007


Bury me in a meadow, some untilled waste,

Next to fields of lettuce or off the highway’s verge.

Let it be my stone, engraved in repeated rotation

Through timeless years.  Where rabbits start in the grass,

Mice rustle, and slender king snake makes his way,

In the warm breezeless understory of bush and weed;

Where song sparrow hangs on sideways to dry stalk,

And kestrel teeters, flaps, teeters, on rigid feathers

Spread out in points.  Here it is dry and quiet.


And, when the Resurrection comes, let the trumpet be

The brassy, tuneless vibration of the bee, against the clacking

Of locust wings.  Let my waking eyes gaze up

On sweet fennel or Queen Anne’s lace in sun.

And, if God should come to look for me, Let Him be

The cyclist, pausing to rest.  Hands light

On handlebars and saddle, He gazes on this modesty.

And let Him say:  This is too good to waste.

                                     Lawrence N. DiCostanzo

                                    June 27 – 28; September 14, 2005

Top of the World: Bicycling Coleman Valley Road  

 I climb above the fog, yet do not know

The reason for this effort. Can it be

The pleasure when I draw up and see

How sunlight blankets rolling grassland with no

Dark tree to stitch it to the blue. I slow

And see the seam of the horizon smooth

Against a bowl of blue, the only truth

And world my distant forebears long ago

Could love. They hoped beyond that line

There await the lovely muscled herds, the streams

Of fish, the comfort of a hunt: in short, the Place

Where limbs feel happy aches. God, rushing by when time

Runs down, should see I have romantic dreams

And fondly scoop me up from this high place —

The cycling dawdler with the dreamy face.

Lawrence N. DiCostanzo

                              July 12 – 15, 2009

President’s Message May 2013

Hello all you Veloraptors:

Let me start by saying I am honored to have been elected as your new President by the Board of Directors, following the May 20th Members meeting held at Sibely Volcanic Park.  Prior to the Board meeting, the members attending the annual membership meeting re-elected Susan Stewart (outgoing president) and Robin Brumell to their second 2-year terms as Directors and Tom Wilging to his first 2-year term as Director. Having been a member of the Board for the past 3 years, I have had the privilege of working with the many committed VeloRaptors who volunteer  so much of their time to our club. It is all the volunteers, along with the full membership, who make our group so much fun. So, thank you Susan for being our President for the past 2 years, and thanks to the many volunteers that plan and lead the Saturday, Wednesday, and special rides. It’s because of all the volunteers’ work that we have many fun rides to participate in each year.  Of course, a special thanks is in order for the volunteers who bring us special events like the Holiday Party, Halloween, and BORP Bike Wash Party, to name just a few.

As President, I look forward to working with the Board, the volunteers and all the special committees, to make the coming year fun and rewarding. And, remember, what makes the VeloRaptors such a fun group is not just our members, but their significant others and guests who make-up the VeloRaptors family.

Let’s have a great year, and I look forward to hearing from all members as to how we can keep improving our club experience.

Randy Mellin

PS: We continue to have  great participation in the Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday rides. So, if you haven’t been riding much, please come out and join the fun.


2013 Bike Wash Party and BORP Support

YES the Veloraptor annual “BIKEWASH and BORP Party” will take place June 22, 2013.  Please check your emails for the invitation and be sure to RSVP.  You can now go to the “www.borp.org/revolution” and join the VeloRaptors team.  Last year we had 17 riders and raised over $14,000 for this worthy cause, lets see if we can improve on last year’s results this year.  Once again Randy Mellin and Steve Goldenberg are co-chairs of the VeloRaptors BORP “BIKEWASH Party” and the VeloRaptors BORP Revolution team.

Fearless Post-Ride Lament

Fearless Post-Ride Lament:

Fearless:  Got time for ‘recovery drink’ ?  I’m waiting by YMCA entry rd.

Ride Leader:  Sorry, just got your message. Couldn’t make it today – maybe next time

Fearless:  No recovery drink for 3rd Sat Rides ! No bad food, alcohol and social opportunities ? Shocked !

Shocked I am !

(Now smooth Motown sounds)


Please Ride Leader,  Plan for me

Bad food, alcohol, Social opportunity

Please look and see, Been waiting so patiently

Bad food, alcohol, Social opportunity

Please, Please, Please

Ride Leader


Solvang 2013 Report


Thanks to Robin and Jeff for organizing another fabulous Solvang ride (March 14-17).  Thirteen riders went down on Thursday and rode Friday and Saturday.  The weather was just right, wildflowers were plentiful, and a great time was had by all.  More details can be found under Rides and Events/Past Ride Reports/Solvang 2013

Rob summed it up this way:

Sensational planning by Robin and Jeff!
Ostriches running in a field…who knew?
Lots of laughter and great company.
Views to die for.
Absolutely perfect weather.
Nature in all its beauty everywhere we rode.
Going next year? I am!