WEEK #33 HOW ARE WE DOING? Paralympic medalist, Craigslist bike & more…

“This is what cycling is all about…” I was thinking to myself on top of a mountain in the Peninsula, just south of San Francisco. The past week I’ve been blessed to cycle with some incredible people who all share the same passion for this great sport.


It started on Monday, on my way to Liz and Anthony in Mill Valley. Liz is the organizer of Bike MS: Waves to Wine, a two-day charity ride to raise donations for MS research. Anthony is quite the cyclist. He’s a Paralympic Bronze Medalist, and someone I now deeply respect. The discipline, the perseverance and the hard work it takes to get that far just amazes me. Never had I met an Olympic medalist before, it was quite the honor.
Lucky for me I was able to cycle with both Liz and Anthony, they took me for a beautiful ride down to Muir Beach and back up again past the Muir Woods and a small loop around Strawberry. After the ride Wouter and Samantha joined us for dinner and drinks (dinner was delicious by the way, thanks again, Liz)! We were staying the night, as the next day we would be going to Sonoma State University to do a presentation.

The alarm clock went off early. I had to be at the University at 12:00 noon and it was still a 70 km ride with a couple of hills standing in my way. It had been a while since I had been on the tour bike fully loaded; yet it was a pleasure riding this way again. It really gave me a feeling of freedom and satisfaction…
In just over 3 hours I arrived at Sonoma State University, shortly after Wouter and Samantha followed. A warm welcome and a wonderful crowd were awaiting us. The group we were presenting for wasn’t that large, which has the advantage to keep things more personal and any questions could be asked during the presentation, too. After an hour or so we were ready to be on our way, but the kind people of SSU insisted on buying us lunch, which was at a Himalayan restaurant and very, very tasty!!IMG_8620After our Himalaya experience we moved on to Rohnert Park, in the hills to be exact. Linda & Lewis, the kind couple I’m staying with in San Francisco, have a second home where we were invited to stay for the night. Almost at the top the hill, the view is incredible. You also get to see wild deer grazing and even wild turkeys! Linda had prepared some wonderful food and drinks for us, starting off with a cheese platter and some local wine (hey, it’s Sonoma!).
The next morning it was sunny and cool outside, a good day to cycle back to San Francisco, exactly 100 km from door to door!

Thursday was the best day of my week. It was the day I got to see my parents! My father had arrived the evening before and my mother early in the afternoon the next day. It’s really nice seeing them in San Francisco, as our family has a history with this city having lived here in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s.
IMG_8665We enjoyed a relaxed evening in a bar/café with some drinks and bar food, an easygoing Thursday evening. After having done some catching up it was time to hit the sack, it wasn’t late but the time difference between Amsterdam and San Francisco still 9 hours, that can really get to you! We would see each other many times the next couple of days!

Friday we received some really good news; Zoya (the teacher at Logan High School) had asked her students to donate pencils, notebooks, calculators etc. for the first project 99%RIDE will be visiting: Niños de Guatemala. It turned out really positive and we’ve received a lot of helpful materials that will be going to Niños de Guatemala. You can read all about it in the articles written by Megan Duenas, staff writer at The Courier, Logan’s newspaper. We were very humble when reading we had inspired her so much, and in return are inspired by her enthusiasm! Logan High School has surprised us again, in so many ways. This comes to show you that with a little bit of effort, you can achieve a lot.

It was an early Saturday morning; I was going cycling with veteran RAAM cyclist Tim Woudenberg and a couple of his friends. The day went a little different then I had thought, starting out with the bike. My touring bike didn’t fit on the roof rack of the car, so I took Tim’s mountain bike/commuter bike/Craigslist bike instead. I’ll spare you the details of this marvelous bike (pictures will follow), all I can say about it is that it got me up and down the mountains (safely), got a lot of attention and at the end of the day I was “defending” it from people having a laugh at it… What can I say; I got attached to it.IMG_8727

That day I was standing on top of the mountain, enjoying the feeling of what cycling is all about. Being outside on your bike, building a sweat, meeting new people, and most important of all, having some really good laughs with the people around you. This feeling got to me the first time I was riding, and I’m enjoying that same feeling to this day…

From San Francisco,

Dirk Spits




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