Want To Ride?
Keys for Success
Starbucks and Giants
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday was a music and food day with Rich McKay with whom I played in
college. He has a couple of really funny movies:
Bob Celebrating with Rich and Jeanne
Bay Volunteers Practicing at Marist College 1966
I hope you enjoy them as much as we.
When you take on a project that
is bigger than you've tried before the most important resource to have
with you is your emotional commitment to stick with it through thick and
thin, and equally important, learn how to dance. The square dance,
which I do not in fact know and have not and will not try, despite some
encouragement from Cathy, is a good example of the circling we must do and
the in and out and out and in actions of the entrepreneur executing a
plan. Be flexible. 1966 was a good year for me - I ran
successfully for the Student Government President position on the platform
"New Flexible Ideas". My opponent, with whom I later
became a room-mate and good friend to this day, was a few years older than
I and it seemed like a good theme, even then, there were the 'you don't
understand me' difference among the ages. But Walter Maxwell was a
huge help to me personally and politically. He help me grow up
before graduating in 1967. He had been in the service and had more
discipline in his little finger than I had in my entire being. So
flexibility if an important characteristic of the successful business
person. Set the goal, and move with the environment as it
changes. And remember that a foe today can be a friend and ally
I had to walk some tight ropes on this ride -
shoulders that consisted of a white line while dump trucks whizzed
by. Same in business. There are times when all is well and on
track and then there are others. I always followed the golden rule
of business - control your expenses and yourself (or business) when times
are good. Control can mean lower them, or, broadly speaking, know
where your money is going and why it is going there so that you can make
decisions knowledgeably when the time comes to conserve.
At one point in
the rain on US 1 in Key Largo - it was pouring as in tropical pouring -
and on the south bound side the shoulder was six to 12 inches outside the
white line, but it was jagged and dropped off 4 or 5 inches due to
erosion. I would never ride this shoulder even in good
weather. In these cases I put myself in the roadway and ask cars and
trucks to accommodate my situation; they all did on this trip. So I
switched to the north bound side and road south, a no no for bike riding
(always ride with the traffic so you deduct your speed from their speed if
you get hit) which was fine for a few miles but then became a
construction site. So I walked for two or three miles over the junk,
around big holes and twice into the roadway running around barriers.
But I was walking. The situation demanded that I change my tactics
and required some concessions to the 'market'. My day was a bit
longer as a result, but I got where I wanted to go.
Likewise, I've had
love affairs with banks and I've had long drawn out battles with
banks. Which is fine since the bankers do not share our business
objectives and don't reap the same benefits we do when risk turns into
rewards. Eventually we reached an accommodation. This required
an emotional commitment and flexibility and a willingness to sacrifice all
I had in order to stay the course of my business. We have all been
there in one way or another. Sometimes it is difficult at home or
hard on our families, but to succeed you must be prepared to play hard and
long and it is good to have allies at home who can take the smoke and
noise. On this ride Cathy was willing to support the goals and my
objectives. She worked very hard to help make it happen. In
business over the course of 20 years she did the same, working and
investing so our family would benefit in the end. I worked hard for
Cathy too. Both of us had the emotional commitment to making it
happen and we both remained flexible as the business unfolded, expanded
and gained strength and endurance.
Most texts will discuss the details
of good planning and the myriad alternative actions business people can
take. I have tried to stay completely away from these issues
since knowledge is a resource that you have to acquire in order to go
forward in business. Some times its simple and sometimes
complex. Just watching other businesses that are successful is a
good place to start. It helps if you have some business training,
but I think in hindsight it is just as important to have the personal
stamina. I bet there are plenty of folks who have been unwilling
during difficult times to say pledge the house or borrow more on credit
cards when the situation demanded these actions. I understand this
completely as ones home is something very special. I think too that
the unwillingness to take aggressive action like plunging into credit card
debt when needed (for good reasons like buy a needed replacement
machine or buy a booth in a trade show that leads to more relationships)
leads to the unraveling of the business. There will be times when
you will face sleepless nights and hand ringing so be prepared
emotionally. "Spend" your emotional currency as best you
So we are off today to plan the return trip, which has a bit more
time since I got to Key West a few days before we planned. Our broad
approach is to take more internal routes home so we can visit more towns
and relax in more downtowns and see the south that I have come to love
dearly. We both share an interest in history and hopefully we can
learn more as we go. Although a bit arcane, we now know the
difference between alligators and crocodiles, a fact that eluded me for 61
years. Ok, here it is: alligators prefer fresh water and crocodiles
salt. And the alligator has a pointed snout while the crocodile has
a square snout. If you want to add to this give me a ring.
with miles to go before I sleep.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Speaking of 1000 words, here we is. And there
were another 1000 people speaking 1000 different languages waiting in an
informal line to have their picture taken. America must be a very
desirous place to come to for every place we visit there are many
Cathy met me at the bridge into Key West and I got a big
kiss welcoming me. She had ridden ahead to scout. Then we
headed to Rich McKay's so he could join us for the final three miles to
this monument commemorating the southernmost spot in the USA. Funny
thing is up the block there is a house on the corner with a sign that
reads "southernmost house', and to its right facing east is yet
another house with a plaque that reads "southernmost southernmost
house' and still to its right is yet another house that I had nothing to
state or commemorate. So too Rich says that there is another place
now that is further south than the monument, which by the way stands some
twenty or so feet from the water so it shore is not as far south as it has
to be to make a statement about being southernmost. Cathy is off to
visit Fort Zachary Taylor while Rich and I make music and while there may
in fact cross the southernmost spot. Here is Rich and Bob before
Rich gets to do some doctoring on the picture:
The old thumbs up in this case is not only for the trip but for the many
years we have been apart. Rich has been living in Key West for a
long time - he moved here after getting his Masters. Rich is one of
the few pioneers left in the country that chose first what he wanted to do
"be in music" and then found a way to support this choice.
He has six CD's published and if you want to hear some good stuff he wrote
and sang you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By all means he would like you to buy a CD or two. He has dedicated
his life to bringing peace to this world and getting a CD or two of his
will assist in this process.
For Weight Watchers
About Signs in Business
A sure sign of a problem in a retail business is any sign
on the door that announces the owners preference in regard to bathrooms,
solicitation or language. Come on in is the only acceptable sign and
you might add 'we do what you want or in the case of bathrooms, 'we
happily provide this service'. Come on now, go take them down or put
them up. Think like a customer, think like a customer, think
like a customer. Go out side your store, close you eyes, run your
hand from your hairline to your chin thereby changing characters and come
on in like a customer does and critique the owner. Critique the
owner. Then have five glasses of water and two cups of coffee, all
12 ounce, go back out side and come in while evaluating the efficacy of
the 'Bathroom is for Customers Only" sign. I know this a fair
amount of time and effort spent on early training, but it still slays me
to see so many 'no this or no that' signs on doors.
Another sure fire sign to Cathy and I that the owner is
unhappy with the income of their business is a sign not working
properly. If there is any maintenance that you are putting off for
lack of money - maintenance, not rebuilding - then this is a sure sign
that some kind of change is needed to get revved up again, and restart
building momentum.. Read the section in this site about Keys for
Success or go to Sell More Coffee
for starters. If that does not get the juices going, then go again
to How To Open A Coffee
Store for more fat for the fire. And if there is not a supply
light bulbs in the store to immediately replace one that stops working, or
a person to change the light bulb, then you have required reading on this
site and the two above. Your store must always look inviting.
Like it or not, money spent on light bulbs is a sure fire way to keep the
light bulbs fired in your imagination.
End of Sign Sermon
The Final Day
So we pulled up to his home, went to the door, and of
course he didn't recognize me in my bike gear and helmet. After a
few seconds he did though and we were off to the races like no time
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Perfect Day to ride, clouds, tailwind some bike path and seven mile
bridge. This bridge was like a wind tunnel, the tailwind pushing and
the passing cars, buses and trucks and motor homes pull you along. I
switched to the third ring up front and slowly built momentum to 21 mph,
then pushed to almost 30 mph on level ground, then up a rise and down the
rise at 30 ish - I was too focused to take more than one look at the
speedometer. It was fast. Then I held 25 for a long time with
the help of the momentum coming down the rise and all the other little
help from my friends.
Long Key last night was right on the Ocean. Look
out the left front window,
the front window and of course
out the right front window. The wind was blowing all night long at
15 to 20 and it was a grand night to just stand outside and feel the
surroundings, which I did twice, once at 12:15 and once at 4 am. The
tide was low around 4 and it looked like a blowout tide in New Jersey or
like the draining of the ocean when you are about to get hit with a
tsunami. Despite this morbid thought it was a beautiful thing to
behold and feel. The moon was about half and bright the first
time. Clouds were rolling in at 4.
Cathy woke me around 6:30 to join her watching the sun rise out the
front left window which is east. So we are facing South South
East. I took some good pictures of
the shore line to our right and if you look very closely at this picture
observe the house on the far left point. Then look at this
which is the house with my zoom lense. You can see the man on the
front porch from a very long distance away. I took some movies of a
sailboat way out there.
And then took some movies of the actual ride along a path over a
channel. I focused the movie camera over the fairing and talked and
shot away. Here is a sample. (Sample to Come when I get home
because the movies take a long time. Next rainy day I might try it
again here. I have to convert them to a microsoft format so I can
Seven mile bridge comes right after Marathon which they bill as the
midway point in the keys. Marathon I'll bet has some nice area's,
but I didn't see much from the bike path or in the center of town on US
1. To give it its due, it was cloudy. I liked a lot the small
town, Layton, on Long Key, a general store, food mart, Italian Restaurant
and a gas station and 15 real estate offices. But it was still
almost quaint. The Long Key State Park was terrific and the first
time I remember camping on the ocean.
I've seen too many horror movies in my life and was thinking of the one
where there is a fog on the ocean and a clicking sound, like someone
running a stick along a picket fence, and then your friends start to
disappear. Or the one where the family is riding along a bridge at
night and the giant squid reached over the bridge and removes the people
from the car, then spits the car out on the bridge. Or then again
there is Moby Dick with whales chasing you. We passed Whale Harbor
in Islamadora, where our friend Nick Ruemeli fishes with his
friends. We passed the Hampton Inn too where he stays.
We had pizza last night from one of only two stores we saw on the ride
back from picking up the lost phone, and stopped because it had two stolen
Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike signs. I thought if he
went to that trouble his pizza must be pretty good - obsessed you
know. It was to me, but not to Cathy. Thin crust was a bit 'cardboardy'
but good sauce and the cheese was browned on top. I like it like
that. So Cathy had one piece, I had four, and we threw two away,
which is only seven so who had the other piece? Could it be Shadow
Right now we are sitting at the laundry in the Sunshine Key Encore RV
'resort', that costs $68 a night, has 500 or more sites and has us about
three feet from US 1. We looked at changing but did not since they
have a large group in and they brought there own band and have permission
to play 'til they drop, which last night was 1:30. I certainly don't
think this resort is worth the money for us, but the position on the
route is perfect for a push off tomorrow, the final day.
The final day?
Holy mackerel, the final day. I'm going to try to film the entry
into Key West and the touching of the Southern Most Point.
I guess in business, with determination, foresight and farsightedness,
planning and execution you can do just about anything you set out to
do. If I can do this ride, you can do what you do.
I have a magazine about the internet elements for a business to improve
its internet sales including blogging, key word optimization, search
engine optimization, podcasts, movies through YouTube and social
networking to mention a few. I think it is good to become well
versed in these tools, and I plan to do so. This ride has been
telling for me in terms of a semi-blog, this log. I needed to have
your input more and had a form but not a way for you to post directly,
which the experts say is appropriate so that you don't get vitriolic kind
of stuff. Not everyone likes your ideas or the way you present
Its like my thoughts on Fair Trade and American workers and Coffee
Pickers. I'm afraid that the concentration of money increases the
likelihood the pickers will become extinct in time, like cotton
pickers. And my thoughts about flavored coffee bean sales.
There are a lot of roasters out there who are obsessed with the idea
keeping it 'pure', in re origins and straights. I don't share this
view as I love the business of coffee and I see the product line much
broader. Remember we are all at this to make a living. Sure we
love coffee, but it would be really good to have enough customers to share
that love, kind of like the sixties.
There are many good causes out there and all we have to do is find the
one that fits our personalities and purposes.
So Tomorrow Is The Last Ride of This Leg. Far Out.
"Lost and alone on some forgotten highway, traveled by many
remembered by few. Looking for something that I can believe
in, my life is worth living, I don't need to see the end"; Sweet
Surrender, John Denver, before he forgot how to Fly Away.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Morning, Afternoon Ride
Raining like crazy and no riding yet today. This is a first for
the trip, so it hard to feel badly but cabin fever is setting in at the
moment. My body is revved up for riding not sitting. I did
encounter a few downpours and fast moving storms along the route but
nothing in the morning before riding out. I'll wait it out as the
chances of it going on all day are slim.
You can hear far off rumbling but no lighting yet while www.weather.com
warns to watch out for lighting. I was wondering if they gave
directions for watching out for lightening. Perhaps the old method
of holding a golf club. I read yesterday another book, Shadow
Warrior, by Gotcher. In it, Doc, the hero and the man who became
known among the Apaches as Shadow Warrior, is running for his life
in the mountains when he feels the hair on the back of his neck go
up followed by a tree coming down right nest to his head. He was not
watching out for lightening. He recalled his wagon train days on the
prairie where there was no shelter but in this case he was in a forest
surrounded by fir trees that I bet blocked the view of the
lightening. He said he heard it either, just the static and hard
wood on his head.
It is a good read, Shadow Warrior. It takes place in 7 days
beginning with a random meeting of Doc and Gunsi's War Party, where they
just happen to be shooting the same deer simultaneously. They both
hit the bugger, Don on a horse gets to the deer first when he first sees
the blood on the arrow protruding from the dear deer. He reins in
the mustang he is riding and heads back to the woods but two young Apaches
appear suddenly and attack. He reluctantly kills them both which is
really bad since one of them is Gunsi's younger brother. Doc lost
his mustang in the encounter and runs now on foot with the Apaches, 19 of
them at this moment in hot pursuit. But it turns out Doc was a
runner in his prairie days and he can out run them for a while.
Seven days later there are two Apaches, Gunsi is gone, six decided to give
up the chase and rest were dead from gunshots, arrows or landslides and
cliffs. Doc is one heck of a mountain man and in the end he got the
The folks next to us are living in the cuddy cabin of a short
speedboat, with a bimmani set three feet above the windows, on the boat
for sunny days not rain, so there is a wide opening through which the rain
is blowing. Four adults, we think, and a very large boxer.
They all smoke and it is just hard to understand how they can take
it. I'm sure they like scuba diving, which is what draws people
here, and I'm wondering why they are sitting here in camp and not on the
water or in the water where they can stay dry in a scuba outfit. My
friend Nick Ruemelli would be out at the reef or deep diving a
While we folks in 2007 stop everything when it rains, Doc and the
Apaches just kept going and going. I don't think their dogs had red
raincoats and muzzles. I was just thinking the Ruby looks so dainty
in her red raincoat and muzzle. Muzzles have a way of putting people
at disease. It works every time.
We are hoping that mail and Coffee from Heaven reach us in Key West.
The rain never did stop, nor did it look like it was going to stop, so
it was either ride in the rain or drive south today and drive back
tomorrow to continue riding from Largo. I opted to ride in the
This one is taken just before kicking off.
Squinting, sitting on a towel on a rubber backed rug, garbage bag to
protect my back, hat to keep drops off my glasses. None of it
Kelly at Florida Greenways and Trails told me that the bike trail in
the Keys would take me from the state park in Largo to the State Park in
Long Key. Technically she is correct. But for a very important
couple of miles there was very heave construction going on and I ended up
walking a few miles. The highway is divided by a wide green area
here with intermittent turnarounds. I'd reconnoiter every once and
while but the south bound lanes had no shoulder and what was there was
jagged, and about a 2 inch drop to the grass and glass. Much too
dangerous in the rain. So I opted to walk and ride on the packed
corral where possible. I figured if I a lost a tire I'd call for
or 877 822 5208 is the info to contact them.
The trail from Plantation Key to Long Key is superb. There are
places that use it as a driveway for bay front home and in some places it
has drainage problems. But I guess this is true of Florida,
period. Only once did I find a hole in a puddle the hard way.
On one reconnoiter I took the bike and myself to the center of the
highway in a turnaround. The south bound lanes are higher by a few
feet than the north bound lanes so I could see a bit of a way. I
fell in the center of a turnaround. I have no idea how, but in a
flick the bike was on its side and just missed being under me.
Lucky. And unlucky. I dropped my iphone and did not
realize if for 15 miles. Too late to go back for I figured it was at
the spot the bike went over. Later that evening Cathy and I did
return and found it just about at the spot. Too bad that it still
works. I would never ever buy one again. Hear that
Steve. It has pizzazz but it is fragile. Two days ago I
dropped it on its face, in the case they give you and the glass
cracked. I'm holding it together with scotch tape. Hear that
Steve. And it does not take short movies.
And holding it while speaking is awkward, and the speaker is not nearly
The rest of the way was just wet. Nothing wild.
The absent phone was a real bother to me for if Cathy had a problem, or
if I one there is no way to communicate. I will not ride off without
a phone. And I'll write down in my head and wallet Cathy's cell
phone so that if by chance I can find a old land line I can call.
The keys below Largo are very nice. Lots of big homes on both
sides of the road. Tonight we are in Long Key State Park and I'm
guessing the land here is no more than 100 yards wide and includes the
park, the highway and some greenery.
The motor home is parked literally 3 feet in front and 2 feet higher
than the Atlantic. Clearly there are reefs that protect this area in
normal weather. But it must get swamped. I also wondered where
the Flagler Railroad was located as there is not a sign of it here.
You may know that it was demolished in a hurricane and a train full of
people were lost.
My legs were heavy at the end of today ride. I'm not a
walker. I should probably take a days rest but I am anxious to get
to Key West. So tomorrow I'll peddle down to Sunshine Key and the
Sunshine RV Resort. They have 500 or more sites and its supposed to
be a pretty nice place for $68 a night.
So goodnight all. "Let the sunshine, let the sunshine, let
the sunshine, in".
I hear they have a parade planned for me tomorrow, something called
Fantastic Festival where everyone paints up their bodies. But I'm
going to miss it by a day.
Two more rides. And, to more rides, salute!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Key Largo, Florida. A big day, but still more to come in
Key West. I'm splitting the keys into three more rides of roughly 30
miles each. Next to Long Key, then Big Pine Key, then Key West.
Walk In The Park Ride
Key Largo is really a very busy place. I had to walk my bike
across two lanes of traffic and waited at least five minutes to get
across. I was hoping some kid would stop traffic for me, but lo,
no. So another person took the plunge and I followed
I left Homestead after stopping at the Raceway Convenience Store where
Salvador made a superb Cuban Coffee. Its the first I've had in
years, other than my own. He is from Mexico and this store is
clearly dead center of a Spanish Neighborhood. I tried to bring my
Spanish up but it failed me in the short time I had. He was keenly
interested in the trip, and he was only the second person to offer my the
coffee at no charge. Dan at Jumpin Java did so as I was leaving you
may recall, and Salvador did it without blinking. I think it is
clear that Rodney King had the right idea - getting along with each
other. If so, then I've got to get to speak again Spanish. A
great big part of this nation is Spanish now, and although America has
always insisted upon learning English, this may take a few generations
because of the size and scope of the Spanish speaking population.
I'm thinking if the kids can speak it at home and then everywhere they go,
it will take some time to speak English, perhaps a few generations.
One of the customers of Raceway took a real interest in the bike, and
gave me a few No Way's when I told him what I'd done. He knew the
days route and he was concerned about the riding along the expressway to
Key Largo. He was right for the first 10 miles. The second 10
is under construction and some really nice blacktop is down and much
wider. With the tail wind it was a blast again. There is
nothing like riding a bike downwind. This is especially true of mine
with the fairing acting as a sail. At one point I stopped pedaling
and was continuing along at 8 miles per hour. I had momentum so its
not quite right to say its an 8 mph wind, but It helped me mostly cruise
at 18 mph. What a ride. And the customer from Raceway was a
real delight to speak with, he was excited for me, and wished us well.
The first ten miles had raised reflectors in the shoulder, and at the
very beginning there was a very large sign announcing the yeat to date
there were 14 deaths on the road. Then came signs telling the
drivers to be patient, there was a passing zone coming up in three
minutes. For the amount of traffic today 14 seemed pretty low to
me. Who knows how many are in the water and never found.
Salvador in the shop was also excited about the ride and he face lit up
when he realized what I was talking about and he immediately provided the
coffee free. "Never Take What you Cannot Give" is a saying
an old friend of mine repeated many times. So I'm sending a thank
you to Salvador from KMO.
We are staying on Key Largo in the State Park for 30 dollars. Its
a weekend and so made reservations ahead at Long Key in a state park for
30 and then on Saurday at Sunshine RV resort on Pine Key. This
one cost $68 which is the most we have spent along the way and I hope it
is worth it. My rides each day on the Keys are only 30 odd miles,
and the final day will be 39 or more to the goal post at the southern most
Rich McKay offered us his front yard for camping and we will take him
up on the offer. Its been a long time since we saw each other and he
is going to put some new strings on his Martin so he must be anxious to
sing too. He sounds just like he used to, and it is hard to see him
over 60. Rich is a real free spirit and has lived his life like
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Jack the Hustler and I had a few good laughs. On the way down
from Kendall to Homestead I was stopped by a light. This very tall,
trim shabbily dressed black man was sauntering toward me with a big grin
on his face and a few singles in his hand. He also had a spanking
new Fed Ex box. I figured I'd been panhandled before and if ever I
had seen a setup, it was this. So I beat him to the punch. As
he got nearer I ask "Buddy can you spare a dollar". Old
Jack with wicked smile said, "I prayed hard today for sixteen
dollars and I got seventeen. I tried to give one back but they
would not take it". He finished, "so you can have a
dollar", and he handed it over toward me. He laughing by this
time and me pretty hysterical. We were putting on the style for the
crowd of ladies at the wheel of the BMW's and assorted Japanese cars, many
of whom had just handed over a dollar or two to Jack, who opened up the
inside of the Fed Ex Box to reveal his prayer for the Final Sixteen.
I could not take his hard earned money and the back of our hands touched
lightly and knowingly as we passed each into our own memory. I
have the feeling that I was in the presence of a master who could change
color, character and context as fast as a chameleon changes color.
He was a man of means by all means, and "King of That Road", for
sure. Its the Busway along US 1 from Kendall to
I no longer ask people their names. It seemed to get in the way
of a good exchange.
I just made it into a gas station/convenience/deli/clothing/repair shop
today and only one of six employees spoke 'ingles'. After a few
futile efforts I was able to translate towel to Towal, and I got
one. It was then raining like a hackneyed Niagara Falls, which is to
say loud. I don't understand how all that water can disappear so
quickly, but it does - makes the alligators happy I suppose.
I was starting to tell you about Tim the Thinman who approached with
the ordinary and normal now, Nice Bike conversation. He was about
five foot six or so, dirty t-shirt and pants to match. Its noon now
so you'd expect that for an outside working man as it was raining (like
Niagara Falls) and it was time to gather at the old gas station for lunch,
and people were coming out of the woodwork, but in this part of the
country there is no woodwork, its all concrete block work, so I use the
term very loosely. But you know what I mean. I'm guessing they
were all spanish speaking people because in order to order anything inside
you had to speak the local lingo, which is not, by any stretch,
I might have said before that I was gleeful as I left Georgia; for in
the bottom half of the state Cathy had noticed that the signs were all in
English, and not a one, even in the state park, was in Spanish. I
asked the guy at that gas station if it was true and he gave me big
So Tim the Thinman wanted to know about the bike and I told him and
then told him I had come all the way from Upstate New York. At first
he just kept talking, but then he let out, "on that",
"on that" quizzically. I told him I was well over, well,
the limit, and had lost plenty of weight on the trip, which was one of my
purposes. He found this hysterical and I think he did not believe
it. He then told me not too long ago he was over two ten, and I
guess he meant overweight, but had lost some in the last six months.
He did not look sick, so I'm thinking he was without job, home and
food. In any event he got his can of beer in a white bag here and
was on his way on foot. He left me wondering how all these
brown or white bags are so obvious but still thought of for cover from the
police and law against oven alcohol containers.
I got my ice cream today at the Alamo, the day before the Mexican's
attacked. It was a stronghold with bars on the window and one inch
glass, slid to the side, I guess to protect. The ride on the bike
path today was also a fortress. Fences topped with barbed wire were
on both sides of the road and bike path. The road today was a road
for only buses, nothing else could legally drive on it and there were at
least three passing police cars and one police car stationed behind a
service station but on the busway to keep it that way. I was tempted
at first, but then realized the bike path was pretty good, not much glass,
flat, and pretty smooth. Written on a concrete block wall, about six
feet tall was the word 'hint" like this
hint. I figured some kind of gang warning. And the people I
did see at the bus stops were not at all friendly, and one little girl of
about eight walking with her mother jumped a foot in the air when I rang
my bell. She turned and looked at me in fear of her life. She
was startled, and that was on me, and she was scared. There are a
fair number of places south of Brooklyn fortified like this, But I
gotta say I never felt I was threatened directly, except as otherwise
noted before. Something must be going on in Southern Florida for
Cathy thinks the local people are not at all friendly, which means they
don't know when to make or not make contact with anther human or non
human. And there was a billboard she saw that pictured a man in jail
and the statement "I'm 38 and my gang ain't helping me".
Or something like that.
I try to smile at everyone I pass, with some exception, and I find here
that about half acknowledge it. The young men will have nothing to
do with it and they are busy holding up there pants. They studiously
ignore me, but I see glances at the bike. I get anxious when they
ask how much it cost before anything else. So this must be a very
poor area and the need for money great, or, the cost of drugs
substantial. It would be better they go back to cleaning windshields
than packing six guns. But in truth the area, in places, feels like
what I would think a western town without a sheriff is like. Not
immediately a threat, but walk fast, keep your head down and don't stop
for anything and don't ride an Easy Racer Tour Easy bike that no one has
ever seen before. But you know what I say to that.
Hail to the King.
Tomorrow I'll hit the Keys. Man oh woman I'm sure it will feel
good. Cathy was telling me she thinks it is amazing, and when I
asked what she meant by that, she said the amazing thing is that it seems
so normal and that I am not exhausted and just keep going. This is
the energy I was trying to define the other day. Today I realize
that my Brother Bill, Doctor Johnson, or Dr. J for short, who
is a superintendent of schools in Rockville Center, Long Island, a wealthy
district with demanding constituents, has at least this much energy.
He's been there for twenty five or thirty years which is unheard of in the
education business. In my home town we go through Superintendent's
every three years or so - they don't finish their contracts. He once
told me they love him because he has created a good solid district, with a
high school rated 40th in the Nation, and the result has been a higher
than average growth in the price of homes. So he has single handedly
raised by billions, the portfolio's of the locals. And he jogs about
six miles a day, at 11 o'clock at night after school board meetings and
other community affairs. He runs in marathon's and 5k's and the
like. I'd say he works his butt off at least 15 hours a day, and he
seems to love it, and has achieved a very good reputation in the State of
New York. And he is not the only other family member to have the
My Brother Paul for
sure has it in spades. He says he was given challenges and overcame
them and that it is different from creating challenges to meet. I
disagree. He has the energy.
Brother Gerry goes the distance every day too. He was a chef,
trained at the CIA in Poughkeepsie, NY and opened a couple, or worked at a
couple of restaurants in NYC. One was Jane Street Seafood, where he
ran a kitchen that served several hundred patrons a night. He said
the kitchen is like a sawmill, big buzz all night with people going in
every which way. Very distracting and intense. So he left for
Kauai after he married Barbara and honeymooned there. They sold
everything and moved. Now he builds cabinets from Koa wood and
builds houses. He has constructed a couple of his own and all of
them withstood Iniki, the pacific hurricane that blew all the greenery
away and put 2 x 4's through houses like bullets through butter. He
and his family had an inside room for this purpose and with mattresses
they survived as did his house, and the others he built. Gerry did
great and wonderful things for me in my life and I miss him; he is a
strong man in every way. He has faith in himself and the future and
just keeps going. He also, says Paul, will make three appointments
on any given day all at 10 AM. No kidding. See you at
10, so he too must be one of a few who can be in three places at the same
time. Go Gerry. He has the energy and focus and drive.
So too my sister Mary, but she would kill me twice and dance happily on
my grave if I wrote about her, so I will not. She lost a twin sister
many years ago and I think that this is the worst kind of thing that can
happen to a person. Identical twins are not alone. But now she
My Daughter Jennifer has the energy, and My Son Paul has the energy and
my wife Cathy has the energy. So I think it runs in families.
When challenged at a young age to perform in ways you might not like or
can not actually do initially, you develop this energy. Some too are
born with it. And some get it both by trial and error and by birth.
And I think too Jack has the energy and displays it in an extraordinary
way. So too do entrepreneurs who are successful. We are a
bunch of people blessed with certain obsessions that we will not give
up. We are blessed with drive. We are blessed with vision and
we are blessed with the back-handed strength of never being
satisfied. We must always find or have a better way.
Yesterday I passed Hiatus Ave in Pembroke Pines. It struck me.
Bye for now.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Not 10 minutes out of Delray Beach I ran into Gizzi's
The ride today was very nice - Delray Beach, Boca, Pampano and then
even Fort Lauderdale was pleasant. I rode through the historic
section of Hollywood which is very nice and then rode West to the nearest
campground in Pembroke Pines. This is off 820 on Flamingo Dr.
Its a Broward County park that is huge, and the sites are beautiful and
In Fort Lauderdale US 1 goes through a short tunnel, which I chose to
go through. It was a real thrill. Only one person chose to
honk like crazy as and after they passed me on the upgrade at the
end of the tunnel. At the opening to tunnel there is a sign
"Share the Road with Bicycles", which led me to believe it was
bike friendly. While the downhill was a trill, the uphill required
great exertion to get the hill out of there. It is not at all bike
friendly and I should have known better.
I spoke with Cathy at mile 31 or so when she told me the closest camp
was 10 miles out of town, all the way on Hollywood Blvd. Knowing
that this was downwind made it a no-brainer. Off I went. There
a three or four roundabouts on Hollywood Blvd. and its a pleasure known
only to bikers to ride around them in traffic. I would love to try
Rome. Perhaps Tuscany is more my level. A nice remote
village. The historic area of Hollywood was very nice and the other
end of 820, which is Hollywood for a long way but is straight as an arrow
and renamed in the suburbs, is really very modern and growing. The
malls out there are all new and there are more under construction.
The only thing lacking is an ice cream store. Even the Dunkin Donuts
did not have its Baskin and Robin's
US 1 exits Fort Lauderdale at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport
so in addition to the tunnel I ended up on a six lane superhighway with a
large shoulder. Its the first large shoulder I've had in perhaps a
thousand miles and brought a smile to me face as we say in
Ireland. And the city threw in jets flying directly overhead
as they took off. Nice piece of work. Not bad though since the
time was 1:30 and the traffic was very light. If the shoulders were
cleared once and while of debris, mostly glass, then it would in my
opinion be ok to ride these monsters. I've ridden Route 55 in
Cumberland County, New Jersey several times and it seems to be ok for an
experienced rider. You don't get much warning as cars approach from
the rear at high speeds, but it gets you there faster sometimes. I
sure would not do it as part of this ride. US 1 and Route 17, while
not your backwoods kind of roads, do get you to many towns and in my case
coffee houses. Of course Florida is not Georgia or the Carolina's,
but their grass is green and sky is blue and the clouds are white and the
Sun is the hottest I've ever experienced, including my sailing days, which
is another story, for another time.
Cathy and I were talking about renting a Trawler type boat to come down
or go up the inland water way. That was on our list when we were
active chartering 40 foot sailboats, but the sailboats have very slow hull
speeds which would make the trip onerous. I can go faster on the
bike. But one day...
I am really close. Tomorrow I plan to be in Homestead, the to Key
Largo, Marathon, Pine Key, and Key West. I will probably rest a day
in Key Largo, I need to get to the Keys, so that the ride down will be
There are a lot more scooters out there folks. They get 65 mpg
I'm told which is just a touch about the Prius I owned before this
trip. But they are lot less expensive than the Prius, which cost me
$25,000, way over priced for the size vehicle, but I bought it for other
America in Florida looks an awful like America in NJ. All the
drug stores are here not counting ours, Rite Aid, and I wonder why there
are so many drug stores in this country. It is a sure sign that the
price we pay for drugs supports expansion and the requisite capital.
Macy's in Pembroke is huge, the whole mall takes a long time to drive
around. A long time. Applebee's has the same appetizer we
love, Veggie Pizza and the steak was pretty good too, NY strip with garlic
herb butter sauce spread liberally. With French Fries.
I forgot Florida was THE state of hanging ballots until I saw a sign
for Bush Real Estate, which I doubt is theirs, but this is hallowed
ground. I only had one senior citizen looking down when she went by
me and darn near forced me to spread myself liberally around the pavement,
which would not be good. She must have been preparing for
2008. Boy it is grand to forget about CNN and the Daily Journal, and
Newsweek and Time and the Sunday Morning shows with coffee and
Danish. Every once in a while I buy USA today, and I think I rode by
one of theirs and Gannett's printing plants. I should have stopped
in to their plant, and to the other papers and radio stations I saw along
the way in order to get some publicity. But I think this trail will
have to be thought through and a plan devised to maximize the available
In one sitting I read the story of Trapper Nelson, a colorful guy who
went wild, kind of for the camera's, in Jupiter. He lived in the
outback along the Jupiter River amidst alligators, black widows, and
rattlers. He started a zoo and a jungle habitat and folks went out
to see him and his 'ranch' for many years until he got fed up and
quit. Its an interesting story. In 1968 he died while in the
midst of selling the 1000 acres he amassed by paying back taxes and taking
the properties of other less fortunate people, for $1500 an acre.
The author claims houses in Jupiter were selling for $25,000 then, but
this doesn't ring true for I purchased in Kingston, New York for $17,000
my first modest home and Kingston is a far cry, meaning less expensive,
than Jupiter, and, it doesn't have alligators. The funny thing is
that a nephew of Trapper's lives, or lived, in Waretown, New Jersey, just
south of Tom's River. Waretown to those of you readers who may not
share my love of bluegrass music, is the New Jersey concert and jam
capital of bluegrass in NJ and has been written up in the New York
Times which makes it a true story. Right? or is it Left?
Did you know that alligators live only in America and China? My
sources are generally reliable.
What am I gonna do when I get home and don't have a ride to do in the
morning? Cathy and I were talking tonight at dinner at Applebee's
that cost us ten dollars more than our housing for the evening, and
I realized that this is my kind of ride, I love it. Every day is an
adventure into new territory. Some folks drive to their destination
and and then ride home. I prefer this. Yet, because of the weather I
had planned to drive to Oregon and head East to pace the change to
winter. And am I glad I did not do that.
I guess in business we all have to decide to go forward or go back
every day or to stay were we are every day. Cathy said 'fantastic'
when we talked about being only four day's from Key West, yet it seems
quite normal to me. Just a bunch of consecutive 40 or more mile
rides. It sure beats riding in circles in South Jersey, more
properly called Loops by bicyclists. Its get a bit boring after
The thought occurs to me that this ride could be made into a business
that is indeed a help to people. That is, lead rides like this for
people who looked like me at the start. I bumped into a scooter
rider at a traffic light and we had the regular nice bike nice scooter
conversation, when he asked me why I was doing what I am doing. To
him I responded "to loss weight" and told him the before and now
story. He told me he would love to do it but he doesn't have the
time. This fellow was easy 290 and not trim like Trapper Nelson, who
was compared in the fifties and sixties to Tarzan, I guess Johnny
Another regular conversation goes, "What is that?" and I
reply "a bike" and they say "is it electric?", me,
"nope", just pedals. Then with a big smile they say
"well don't break the speed limit", which I did
At a high school the limit was 15 while the light in the center of
route 820 was blinking. It was blinking. A huge 18 or so wheel
cement truck and I were stopped in front of about 100 kids from this
school when the light changed to green. I gave the truck a head
start and then pounded away in 29, which is the center front ring and the
rear smallest. Its a slow start since you have to really push to get
the bike going at that gear ratio, but once it gets going, it goes really
fast and in no time I was breaking the speed limit at 18 and I easily
trashed the cement truck. Cheers.
Then Joe Smoker, again at a light, starts the usual 'nice bike'
conversation and we get around to what I'm doing. He is incredulous
and all he can say between puff's is "aren't you inhaling a lot of
exhaust", and this said with a pained expression. I simply
could not resist explaining it was a lot less painful than the cigarette
he had in his mouth, and I told him the before and now story of how I
smoked 5 or more packs a day, nothing in moderation, or, in other words, I
was the character who gets off the phone and looks around and finds three
cigarettes going in three different ashtrays, all near the phone.
When I smoked, I smoked. I never put one down. Put it out,
light it up. I quit at $1 a pack I think. I can not imagine
today having to explain to the kids why they can't go bowling with a
cigarette in your mouth. So Joe Smoker then tells me he is going to
quit next year. Off I went with a cheerio and good luck exchanged by
both of us. He was a nice fellow.
"Sometimes I live in the country. Sometimes I live in the
town, Sometimes I take a great notion, to jump in the river and
drown", Verse 2, Song, Goodnight Irene. Goodnight all, and Joe.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Between Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach I was
propositioned again, and had three local folks in cars telling me to
get on the sidewalk, and one just shouting something obscene. One
man wanted to know how much my bike cost, and I think he was trying to
decide if it was worth the effort to steal it. I told him it was a
gift and I thought worthless. Another dude riding thankfully in the
opposite directions and on the other side of the street with dreadlocks
blowing in the wind, shouted "nice bike', lustfully. There were more
to feed my paranoia. Lastly, there was not a single police man or
woman to be seen anywhere, except Delray Beach. I can understand why
they aren't there. Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach were, on the
other extreme, very nice. People walking around in suits and
cocktail dresses at 2 pm.
In Lantana I met Vince, a weathered man of perhaps 65, retired and
mightily proud of his decision 30 years ago to salt some money away in the
union pension plan that now pays him 650 dollars a week. At first I
thought he was a threat, but the owner/manager of the convenience store,
from New Delhi, told me "Vince is a good guy, he will be there if you
ever need help". So I talked a bit with Vince, mostly listened
and it turns out he does know a lot about the Hudson Valley as he helped
build the major highways up there. Route 84, the extension
connecting the Massachusetts and New York Thruways were two he mentioned
and knew about the high security prison along route 84 at
The fellow who was pondering my dropped helmet in Delray Beach was
starting to call someone as I drove up to retrieve the helmet, which I
foolishly left on the seat of the bike on the bike rack of the motor home
as I drove away. We chatted briefly and he coined the phrase Helmet
Without A Head, a possible title for a treatise on War. The War
would be a good beginning. Not to get into this again, but not only
did the German People kill six million, 6,000,000 Jews, they also murdered
4,000,000 Russian POW's and 2,000,000 Poles, and another 1,000,000 or so
people who were 'different' or forced laborers. This does not
include the other 40,000,000 people who fought in other Armies or civilian
deaths. So Helmets Without Heads seems like a good way to think
about this obnoxious thing we call war. The Helmet Man and I laughed
a bit and he said he didn't know who to call, but he was going to call
someone, and he was serious. I did not ask who he had dialed.
The helmet was sitting the gutter so I'm thinking he might have thought an
accident, perhaps unreported took place there. We'll never know, but
his phrase may live on and he could have made off with the Helmet
easily. Thank you Helmet Man of Delray Beach.
I stopped at Bicycle Wayne
for a new helmet and tubes and to see if there new types of pumps, which
there are not. So I'll stay with the jury rig I have for my big
standup pump. The Giro Helmet fits well and has a few technological
improvements, like Velcro holding the pad to the top so they can be
cleaned and the straps have a device that exactly fits the helmet to your
head, which is good. Then I almost gave it away. Left it on
the seat after loading up the bike on the motor home and knew then that I
should not leave it there to do anything. But I did and we made a
successful return trip to Delray Beach to find it in the street with a
fellow I'm sure was about to claim it as salvage. A helmet without a
head attracts attention.
I was very interested in the changes that had taken place along US 1
since the last time I was here. Most of stores along 1 after North
Palm are shuttered with concrete or closed. There a slew of them for
rent and empty. Wayne told me that if I survived the Hood in Riviera
Beach I'd probably survive anything. He actually did not say this,
but I think it characterizes accurately my take on it after talking
briefly with him. This emptiness continued in Palm Beach and then
into W. Palm as well. I can tell by the gas stations. If they
are shuttered, the indication is its an iffy neighborhood. If they
are open but shuttered or covered with steel you can draw your own
conclusions. If they only have bulletproof glass and a bank drive-in
draw it is probably a good neighborhood to ride through. Cathy
actually called me from mile 31, I was at 25, and wanted to come pick me
up for safety reasons, but I declined. I did however begin to pedal
faster and raised the speed to 14 and 15 into the wind for about 5
miles. I also choose not to stop for groceries.
I'm pretty sure I saw at least one drug deal go down. And for
sure a young working girl wanted attention so things have changed big time
along 1, aka Federal Highway and at times, ironically, Dixie Highway.
In Palm Beach proper, and I believe it was downtown there is an
explosion of condo's going up. In one two block stretch there were
four monster buildings being erected in concrete I guess to protect
against the occasional hurricane. They look to be beautiful.
Delray Beach was quite something, with people actually sitting street side
in the cafe's. It was very pleasant, and if I liked real
Philadelphia Cheese Steak I'd have stopped at 5th and Atlantic, at Al's
Famous Cheese Steaks, but I don't. Besides, there is a Starbucks
being outfitted there and it makes me sick to see so many of these things
going up. My Darling picked me up a few minutes latter at this
So a few sprints were added today and it felt good and I'm beginning to
think I'm goldbricking a little when the old headwind rears it nasty
head. Perhaps it is self pity. Tomorrow I'll try it again and
maybe get a few extra miles.
I'm getting close to the Keys. Tomorrow we will camp in Hollywood
and the next day, after driving around Miami, I'll bike from Coral Gables
to at least Homestead. We received a copy of a book with RV camps in
Florida and it will be a big help in planning the rest of the trip.
The lady manager of tonight's campground, which was the third we tried (no
dogs allowed at the other two) is from New Hampshire, has been down here
for 13 years but in May is going Home. She misses the four seasons
and Christmas. Christmas, she said, is just not Christmas without
the cold. I'm getting excited about reaching Key West and I'm
beginning to wonder What's Next?
We will be going home for the holidays and then in January we are
planning a scouting trip to North Central Florida. Then I've got to
gently discuss the rest of the legs of the possible trip around the
country. Mixing the coffee stores and the biking is logistically
unfair to Cathy and I will have to I think separate them. Right now
she is basically driving, shopping and picking me up. Both of us
would like to have more time together and more time to actually see
something beyond tarmac and concrete. 1 is not the route to see
coffee stores. And I'm thinking that to really get to a lot of
independents you need to drive, not bike, and cover states, not just a
route like this. And I'm convinced it is a worthwhile endeavor for
me, KMO and the independent store owner. Perhaps too we could make
this an annual event where I lead or anther person leads a ride down the
coast to celebrate independents, with publicity so the independents can
take advantage of it. We also need to build a big book on how to
best compete with the giants as the giants are growing rapidly.
Clearly the concept of community involvement and knowing your customers is
critical and so are the basics of the right product line, food, drive-in,
wi fi, and big smiles. I have to ponder this for I'm not satisfied
at all with the Keys
to Success section. Help from you would be appreciated.
Remember the Donkey too.
So, Hollywood, Homestead, Key Largo, another key and then bingo.
Bingo is big in this area as are Arcades which I'm beginning to think are
legal gaming halls. Not sure. Perhaps on the way north we can
check it out.
I drank 10 large bottles of cold water today and kept up pretty
well. I ate less - one honey bun, my obligatory p and j sandwich,
and an orange. I was starving at 4 pm.
Also wearing the new dress shoes I purchased. They are brown and
it looks a bit dorky. But they are far more comfortable on the bike
for song periods. Can you believe it, my feet, which never, well
almost never touch the ground.
My left foot did hit the ground when I was riding into
Titusville. I was approaching the bridge into town and my wheel got
stuck in a groove between two slabs of broken and cracked concrete, which
is not good at all, A very fast left foot dropped instinctively let
me recover. I was going perhaps 15 mph and the cars to my left were
going at a good clip and I'm sure breathed a sigh of relief when the foot
hit the ground. I think this is a case where the recumbent I ride
with low center of gravity and very low pedals saved some warlike
wounds. Bravo Easy Racer Tour Easy. Any other bike, recumbent
or upright I fear would have gone down as it would have taken too long to
get the foot down, and in some cases like the lay down kind of recumbent,
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Mush, Mush, Crack - Mush, Crack - Mush Mush, Crack - Crack Crack
Crack. We are in a Florida State Park just north of Jupiter and Juno
Beach, And the highest point in this area is claimed by this park to
be Hobe Hill, just a drive and a nine iron from here. It is 86 feet
above sea level and with its 27 foot observation tower is over 100
feet. I think Mike's Mountain in the pine barrens is a bit over 120
feet without the tower. Remember Mike was the fellow, a real piney
we met on a back woods trip to the pine barrens, who showed us around the
back woods and then brought us to the highest point in the barrens.
We named it Mike's Mountain. Today, riding on US 1, up and down what
I guess used to be sand dunes was a blast from the past, at least a month
since I've encountered such hills, not counting bridges, some of then so
steep it made me weep.
I left late again, waiting out the rain we had this morning, and had
cloud cover most of the way. That is really good. Only one
downpour this time and I'm in civilization and got cover in a new mall
that had no tenants. This was about ten minutes after I had fixed
the first front flat, which took no more than 15 minutes. The timing
of the rain was really good. It lowered the temperature a bit and
for a short time the wind died. Headwind all day today. Wind
out the east and I'm headed south, not due south, but south east along the
The forecast is more of the same this entire week and I'm a happy
camper looking for cloud cover again. I love rain and I love clouds.
Cathy just smacked her funny bone - why do they call it the funny
bone? Its the size and form of this motor home. Every once and
a while its gets real small. We must close cabinets and put every
item we use back where it came from or we will be black and blue.
Which we are. And my legs have grease permanently engraved. I
can't figure out how it gets from the chain to my leg since I'm not aware
of it happening.
I am dying for a good cup of coffee and even though it is past six we
are going to make a pot to have with some muffins. I did not get to
stop in any independent stores today and I am concerned about
Starbucks because along this stretch of US 1 they stand out like a sore
thumb. Sure they helped us get going, but now it seems they are
trying to corner certain markets. I suppose one reason they
get the great sites is that they have the money and resolve to be willing
to drop $500,000 to a Million on these sites. I'd think an awful lot
before doing the same, and as laid out in Up the Organization in the
chapter on Decision Making, while I toss and turn, or, since I am
not a retailer, while you toss and turn, they act and take the
Lets remember always that they have a limited product line and don't
serve the local folks and there is no way the CEO of Starbucks is involved
in your community. They want only big money and big education.
So we can end run them.
John Chrisham has written a new book about an NFL football quarterback
who gets named The Goat, the biggest goat in all time in the NFL, and then
joins an Italian NFL team in Parma, Italy. It is both hilarious and
serious, and an easy read. I picked it up around five
yesterday, took two hours off to watch another chapter of Burns' The War,
and then finished it around 3 AM, and still got up and rode 39 miles.
How? my brothers ask. Where does Bob get his energy? they ask
Cathy. I am at a loss to even understand the question but I can tell
you all that I'm not always energized. There are periods that I
believe we all have when its hard to get up to do what ever it is we are
doing, again. I look back and see that there are clear two and three
year cycles in my behavior. Golf is a good example, I wanted to
improve and did get to a respectable 9 handicap. Then I went to
Ireland and Scotland, played the British Open courses, played bogey golf
and in one case shot 80 at Carnoustie, or 82 or 84, and then came home and
stopped playing. I reached a goal, and thereafter it did not seem to
be the same. The down side of this is that I was playing the game
for a specific reason and a specific goal, not for the love of the game as
the PGA wants us to believe. I was driven by a force I don't really
understand. In business I'm a better innovator than
administrator. If it takes longer than a few years, I am not the
person to do it.
In my banking career I remember a fellow who was the marketing VP for
the bank, Grant Lewis was his name. He was a scratch golfer by the
way. Really good. But he and I had a heart to heart one day
and he said he saw that I stayed only a couple or three years in the
different jobs I had in the organization and he frankly told me he thought
he was a better marketing person than I was when I filled that position
before him. I gave him the opening to be frank, and he took it, but
he was wrong. Another fellow became VP: and controller after I left
the position, and he too thought he was a better controller (some call it
Comptroller, the money guy). He may have been right since my
training was more in marketing than controllership, but I had the broad
picture pretty well and I thought of myself as a Marketing Controller, a
person who could see how profits were made and expanded, and while I was
in that job we changed the accounting systems, got new computers and had
much better information systems and planning. After a few years, I
had to move on. I had to move on or I would get crazy out of
boredom. So I did move to another position, this time running a
region. The point here is that there are certain personalities, like
mine, that seek change and change is the engine that drives us.
Perhaps fear of failure then kicks in and we immerse ourselves in the new
work to compensate. I'm not sure of that idea on fear of failure,
but I am sure that I love to work on new things. It is exciting to
me and I love it. It is the reason I love business. I love too
the business of coffee.
I think we make good entrepreneurs. Changing, adapting, moving
left and then right and then around again, is what we do.
Administration may not be our strength. Some folks start businesses
and then their administrative instincts kick in and rules become policy
and I think these are the folks who believe in earnest that restrooms are
for customers only and that employees do not have to clean up after other
people. This is not to say they don't succeed, but in the end the
more rules and policies you have the harder it is to do business.
I have always been in trouble with my wife Cathy who knows more about
personnel management in her little finger than I do in my whole body and
mind, But for a long time I resisted putting a policy manual
in place and in fact I never did. The reason was that it took away
some of the flexibility the company had. This did create some
issues, like folks not sure of their vacations, but we dealt with those as
they came up. I'd rather spend my time on marketing and
expansion. So in my judgment you and I must beware of the trap of
good work on issues that are not relevant to the business of the business
which is getting new and satisfying existing customers.
Say it again Sam. The business of the business is getting new and
satisfying existing customers. Give the Customer What They Want,
always. And don't dare say, "its not the policy'. When
you hear this said, jump up, jump up and then down, and do it again until
everyone is listening or at least watching. Then say it again, Sam:
Give the Customer What They Want.
Always give customers what they want. Never say We don't do
that... find a way to do it.
And if you are too tired to do this, than get away for a while and come
back and do it. Always.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Great riding day, cut short by a flat tire. I'll tell you a
secret about the Secret. I was thinking flat all morning long, and
knew I should not be thinking flat because then it would happen, and, it
happened. Can I say s... Well s.... It wasn't so bad
changing. I was across the street from a campgrounds so had plenty
of safe space, and my bike is supported by the back of the seat and the
fairing so its easy to access and remove tires, even the back tire is not
a problem. I found the source of the leak, but no debris, and
checked for penetratioin, and there was none so I just changed the tube,
not the tire. I'm carrying a couple of extra tires and wheels, just
in case. So Cathy came back with the air pump and I was on my
way again in about an hour.
I guess my legs are getting stronger and I'm not really pressing for
distance. I thought I'd get fifty today and would have had I not had
the flat. At mile 36 heavy rain fell and Cathy was sitting there
with motor home and I could not resist cutting it short. I no longer
am concerned about getting to Key West by the end of the month. My
to go mileage has been off by at least a hundred miles which I realized
when I saw a sign Miami 166 miles (now less) I know its 165 from
Miami to Key West so the two add to 320 miles less the distance from the
sign. Today is the 20th and all I need is 30 a day to arrive by
Some of my daily routines are filling up the tires first thing, getting
food and water together, wallet, camera and telephone and two pairs of
shoes. The bike is carrying a lot of weight, which has been offset
by my weight loss. I think I'm still losing but I'm afraid to go get
weighed for fear I have not.
Today was along the inland water way, known here as the Indian River
and it was magnificent scenery. I was surprised at the absence of
large expensive homes and the large number of mobile homes and smallish
homes but Cathy pointed out that in this area there is not much to do and
very few restaurants. I think too the water is very shallow as there
are virtually no boats in for 20 odd miles. Clearly it will change
over time as the citification of Florida continues.
I bought the Ken Burns documentary, The War and we are watching it a
disc at a time, each about two hours in length. Last night there was
a film strip of a patrol along a mountain side somewhere in the
Pacific. Suddenly, the lead soldier was hit. He momentarily
looked surprised, stunned, then looked to his right at what appeared
latter to be a severe drop off. He collapsed to his right and then
pitched head long into the brush. It was horrible. This is I
believe the first time I've seen a person get shot and know it's
real. I may have seen one on television during the Vietnam War but
it would be a distant memory if I remembered, which I don't. This
was a real shock it was so real, which sounds lame, but you could see the
soldier die in a second or two. I've been very close to death of a
loved one, my brother Doug, who died in my arms after a terrible accident
and it isn't something you forget, ever. (Unfortunately Paul and
Gerry were there and witnessed the whole thing too and I'm sure endure the
same feelings.) The men who fought WWII must have suffered greatly
to see so many comrades and friends and enemies die.
Last night the film described as a howl the reaction of a wife to the
dreaded telegram telling her of her husbands death. My sister Mary
howled when she drove up the driveway to my fathers house and was faced
with the news of Doug's death. I'll never forget that either.
His funeral was surreal, with the Army supplying men to shoot - I
can't at this moment recall the name of the Salute they give, but they
fired rifles. And his hearse was a Fire Truck from the East Rockaway
Fire Department and for some reason I remember a piper. My parents
were very well known in East Rockaway and there were very long lines at
the funeral home wrapping around the block. Doug had fought in
Vietnam, was a popular fireman and he had been wounded in Nam and had a
purple heart. And he died doing my Dad a service. So it was a
bit tragic and attracted a great deal of attention. There are some
things that leave an indelible mark, and the men of the second world war
have them in spades. I owe them plenty and so do we all.
There are humorous stories too about Doug. One story I may have
related already but I'll repeat. Doug was on R and R in Hawaii,
Honolulu I think. So he and 100 other GI's are waiting in line to
use the single phone they had access to. Doug finally gets to the
phone and calls home and my Brother Gerry answers. You have to know
to get the humor here that my folks had seven children and we lived on
three floors in an old Tudor home in East Rockaway Long Island. We
were not rich, but had what we needed. The way we communicated in
the house was with telephones. Before cell phones we had lines on
each floor (this had something to do with the kids creating large
telephone bills), which may not be entirely correct as we may have had
just a couple of lines on the first and second floors. But that is
not important. What is important is that we all hated getting
someone to come to the phone and would call upstairs from time to time and
use the phone as an intercom. So back to Hawaii and Doug and
Gerry. Gerry answers. Doug says "hi Gerry get
mommy". Gerry, forgetting where Doug is, says "get her
up". I can see Doug incredulous, holding that phone
and hitting with it anyone who made any attempt to take it from him.
No way Jose. I'm still laughing and it brings tears to my
eyes. Its a classic Johnson story that I hope my grandkids will tell
their children. Doug was a good guy, big hearted and stubborn.
Served his country, served the community as a fireman and other ways and
was just a good 'ole likeable guy. There were a lot of people there
because he did right by them and served them well. Hummmm.
The burns documentary is well worth the time and the money. Paul,
I'll send it when I'm done.
The only coffee I had today Cathy made in the motor home, and it was
great coffee, my original blend of South American, Indonesian and African
coffees. Well balanced and well roasted by the folks at the
plant. Nice work.
Ruby has a problem. In Florida there are these 1/4 inch to 1/2
inch sticky things that are seeds for some plant or tree and litter the
ground. They stick to anything I guess to get traction and travel to
new lands. Well they stick to Ruby's feet and after a few moments
she can't walk it is so painful on her pads. And Cathy spends a ton
of time pulling them out. So we are going to get her shoes, to go
with her red rain coat. She is at heart a good dog and we love her
and she is a fantastic traveler, staying in place, or standing and looking
out the window for hours. If someone comes close to the vehicle,
believe you me we know it. She is very protective. But that is
what the Standard Schnauzer was bred for. Protect and defend, and
Tomorrow the forecast if for scattered thunderstorms so I'm not sure if
I'll ride. The wind is from the east at a good clip.
If there is an idea today it is: do your homework and serve the
community well. People will come.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Good ride today, made up for a shorter distance
yesterday. Today was 51. So I'm at 1,168 miles which surprises
me. And I'm sure I'll be in Key West before the end of the
month. Its less than 200 miles to Miami, and then another 165 to Key
West. I was saved too from dehydration at a Kangaroo
station and I have to say the best service of late came from two of these
stations. If you want more on this please read here.
Better coffee day too. I had a double espresso at Krysti's
Koffee and Smoothies got some good pictures and stumbled on what I
think is a really good promotional idea. Christine of Krysti's has a
truck with her stores information on it. I've searched my memory
banks and can only think of one truck that had this information, and
that's a truck with a mobile drink bar. But I think this should be a
prerequisite for all coffee retailers. Its a perfect opportunity to
get your name out there, and your web site out there every day, plenty of
times. I think this is a just do it kind of idea. And to get a
bit carried away.
Better, get a mule and use it to get to work every
day (ha ha, fat chance).
If I were retailing I'd do this immediately, something
unusual to get some buzz and press. Like a mule (painting on the
car). I don't want to get carried away with this idea, but if
you want press and buzz why not go to work using the same transportation
Juan Valdez used? Just for a couple of days anyway. I know I
know this is a bit extreme, and I'd not want to go too far, but can you
see it? Think of how Virgin Air announced it was going to compete
with British Air for the transcontinental business in England.
Branson drove a Tank, an Army tank up to the headquarters of British Air
and pointed the big gun a the headquarters. He made the front page of
every newspaper in London.
Now if you are thinking the way I'm thinking perhaps we
should rent some tanks and Visit Starbucks. ... Sure it is a grandstanding
kind stunt, but Branson owns an island in the Caribbean and it never hurts
to follow good business techniques.
I rewrote My
Brother Paul, Paul. I'm realizing that some of my late night
writing needs proof work and a rewrite and I'll do it time
permitting. I'm sure Al Caltabiano will like that.
Krysti's was a very good experience and look at the idea
that came from it. I hope some of you will share with each other and
maybe form an informal alliance to talk ideas for promotion. It will
help you gain traction and confidence in your actions.
I keep running into stores without a major commitment to
selling whole bean coffee, with bins and grinders and scales. And
more important, I keep running into coffee bars that think flavored coffee
beans are not to be seen in a real coffee store. No way, says Juan.
Flavored coffee was my first introduction to
"Gourmet" coffees many years ago. Friends of ours had it
and served it after dinner at a big to do kind of dinner in my life before
coffee. It was a hit with the folks at the table. Little did I
know then that one day I'd be writing this paragraph extolling the
benefits of giving customers what they want to independent coffee
entrepreneurs, who don't want to sell flavored coffee. That is,
don't want their customers to get the best flavored coffee they can for
home consumption. What will we do, have take out syrup or Syrup
Delivered to Your Door 24/7?
People want to drink flavored coffee at home, for dessert,
for morning, for lunch, when entertaining. Get a job to cater coffee
a the next political event. Have caraf's of your favorite
blend and then add Hazelnut and Jamaican Me Crazy, which many folks I've
met with have not heard of, and it is the best selling coffee that I know
of. Beyond any other coffee. I am not saying abandon the
expertise you have developed over the years at barista, or fancy drinks
prepared with pizzazz. Just that there are a lot of people out there
who want to get to your stores to enjoy flavored coffee with syrup.
And they want it for home. Go to your supermarket and see how many
flavors they carry.
If your roaster is honest, they will concur with what I
say. Unless they are so committed to espresso drinks and origins
that it is against their interest sell flavored coffee. But
you will know better because you have read this, and you I hope will do
some homework and go to supermarkets and ask the folks there.
And a word on single origins. Some of these new
origins are just fantastic in the cup. I remember the first auction
some years ago, and we bid on a couple of new origins and the one I wanted
went for 21 dollars a pound, way more than I was willing to pay.
This is well and good for the auctioneer and George Howell who I have the
utmost respect for as a roaster, a consultant and a cupper. But ...
Blends and Flavored coffees outsell single origins by a mile. You
may love Brazilian coffee, but I dare say there are not many who do.
That is, served by itself. But in blends it is
I'm going to assign myself some homework to watch more and
read more of what other roasters and consultants are saying and
selling. More to come on this most important topic. I'm going
to create a page in the site for this topic at the top l level and add to
it as I go.
Let us not loss sight of the basics of this
business. The first objective is to stay in business and be happy
doing it (happiness with money and freedom). Single Origins
and getting more money to farmers with Fair Trade is fine, and many cup
well, but they are a single mindedness. Blends like my original
blend of Centrals, South American and African coffees have, in my opinion,
a much broader appeal. And flavors are wonderful to many of your
customers who are buying them from a competitor of yours.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
We received really good career news from Jennifer, my daughter, but we
can not share the specifics until she says. But nice going Jennifer,
we are super happy for you, and Jeff and Ingrid.
I switched to US1 today and it was pretty good most of the way.
Early clouds were a big help. It is fine with me if we had clouds
for the next month as the sun is limiting the miles I can do. I was
thinking of just relaxing on the bike and riding pretty much 9:30 to
4. When Cathy and I rode the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, NY,
we rose early, got on the road around 8 and had fixed end points we had to
get to if we wanted to eat dinner. They were always 70 and really 90
mile days as we had then to ride to hotels. So I've done that
before, in 2000. It was cooler up there, but hot. It would be
great to get to Key West before month end so we more time to hang out in
coffee stores on the way home.
The bikers pulled into Daytona in spades, yet, I'm told this is a
fraction of the number that show up in March for a big humdinger.
The variety of bikes and bikers is a surprise. I've not seen anyone
in a tux yet, but I'll bet some wear them. Three wheelers are pretty
common and some that look like my bike are here. Long, low and
stretched out bikes are the ones that compare to the bike. Virtually
every restaurant or bar along US 1 from this town tonight, Mims, back to
Daytona has the sign "We love Bikers", or "Bikers
Welcome", or "Biders welcome just don't trash my place".
I have not seen the clubs like Hells Angels.
We rode into Titusville earlier and I spotted two coffee stores
that I'll visit tomorrow. The city is a mixture of old Searstown
Malls and Miracle Mall, with JC Penny and some newer strip centers with
Winn Dixie, a nice well stocked store. The two older malls were not
doing business on Thursday evening.
A launch of the Space Shuttle is scheduled for Tuesday and the folks in
this park are excited, as I would be if I had time to stick around and
watch. I thought about it, but four days is too long to stick in one
spot. Cathy and I many years ago watched a night time launch of a
rocet from Cape Canaveral and it was pretty spectacular, very sci
fi. Sure have watched a few on Television, but they are nothing
compared to the real thing. I'd love to see the shuttle take off and
our only option is to drive back up to watch on Tuesday, which is
possible. I should be 120 miles at least down the road so we will
have to see. As I think about it, not likely.
Soon we'll be hitting the New York and real Snow Birders. It
continues to be rare to talk to local people. I've done it, and I've
heard some at the convenience stores where I buy water, but that is it.
Citgo up the road was brewing Beans Coffee, not sure who that is and
did not ask. I was a mess from the heat, and I felt it. But it
is certainly and extension of what we were writting about last
night. Competition is showing up all over. In New Jersey I'll
bet the WaWa stores do a thousand or more cups a day, and the coffee is
too weak. But their reputation in the market is that they carry a
good cup of coffee. It may be an extension of Kona and Kenyan
charades they play.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Still in Florida, and still headed south from St. Augustine down A1A to
Flagler Beach where I bailed out of the Sun. Route 100 appeared with
a sign to 95 and while I rode about 1/2 mile past it at first thinking the
manly thing is to just tough it out, I finally let reason make the
decision to head West to the mainland in Bunnell and a place where my
savior and wife could pick me up off the pavement. it was another 7
miles, but the wind was now at my back and the much ballyhooed cloud cover
I expected suddenlly appeared. This drops the temperature
dramatically and makes riding bearable. The sun was just too much
for me today so I clocked 36 miles when I set out to do 60, although my
original plan for today was to rest and have a slow day of say 20.
Campsites influenced the o utcome as did a Motor Cycle Fest in Daytona
this weekend. We didn't know it was coming and the campsites are all
booked. So I wanted to get further south today.
Even the Laundromats are filled up. You know that Cathy picked me
up at the intersection of 100 and US 1 and she spotted a Laundromat down
the street a piece. We headed for it, Cathy went in to scope it out,
thought it ok and began to get the laundry together when four motor
cyclists, with ladies on back pull in to the parking lot. Instant
running to get to the washing machines first, and then the dryers.
It worked because we will be leaving in just a few minutes after an hour
or so of work. but you get the point. There are 'bikers', not
my kind, all over the place.
Some of these dudes wave, some just look at my bike, and some ignore
me. No problem, my fuel costs are less than theirs. We were
lucky to get a site to camp in Port Orange, just south of Daytona off US
More to come. Right now we are running for the hills.
Hills? Not here.
Each Day has taken on a character of its own. I wrote the earlier
part of today's log while waiting for the wash to dry. We were still
30 slow miles from the campsite and had not eaten dinner, so we
stopped for some spaghetti and meatballs, for which I'm paying right
now. And when we pulled in after dark the site we had would only
accept 50 amp cords and of course I could not find and now don't think I
carried the proper conversion line that would convert the 50 down to 30
amp. So Cathy called the office and they sent down a
converter. So I hope tomorrow can be a more normal day, but neither
of us really know what a normal day is now. Cathy had to drive over
100 miles today to find telephone service, come and pick me up in Bunnell,
find the campground, then come get me and go back. Not as bad
as sitting in a desert though.
In Bunnell I spoke with a 72 year old
bike rider who proudly explained he got his bike from a person who threw
it out and then fixed it up and it sure looked good to me. His was
balloon tire bike and he used for local errands and he said he still loves
to bike. I'd seen him watching my bike and I took the initiative to
start up the conversation with a comment that the bike is sure
comfortable. One thing led to another. He spoke with a
'southern' accent but is local to Daytona. He had just returned from
a cruise to Nova Scotia, flew up to NY and he commented that the traffic
up there was wild and he would never live there, but at the time we were
speaking the traffic at the intersection of US 1 and 100 was thick as
Progresso's Barley Soup. The bikers convention has stirred up a lot
of traffic and a lot of business and a lot of police and directors of
traffic in the Daytona area. I wish I had ridden the bike through
the congestion for it attracts all kinds of attention, some good, some not
so good. But it would have been fun. My friend the biker saw
Cathy come in with the motor home and as he was leaving said " I see
you have a place to sleep too". Nice fellow but I've decided
not to ask names.
I've got some thinking to do for Dan
and Sara of Jumpin
Java who have returned from vacation and would like ideas on how to
deal with the McDonals threat of latte's and mocha's. Mc D's has a
big breakfast sandwich crowd and Dan's concerned that some of his
customers will pick up coffee at the same time. I believe in reality
the McD's of this world and every cafe serving breakfast and lunch and
diners and the list goes on, are competitors. Some in the industry
say they are not competition with the demographic of specialty
coffee. A Coffee House Latte drinker would not go to McD's they say,
but I think they do. Not all of America has coffee at the corner of
42nd and Broadway. So it is all competition in my opinion.
Dunkin Donuts is certainly competition.
I'm thinking that a broad
coffee line, including flavors, especially at strip center locations with
food stores, or freestanding building on the way to and from food stores,
and food are essential elements to success in the long run. All
suggestions are welcome and sort.
We purchased The War, Ken Burns
new show, on DVD and I'm having a hard time not getting glued to the
set. I've not watched any television since we left, and I love the
extra time. It helps to with the TV food.
Tomorrow Titusville I
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
If I can do 40 a day it will take another 11 or 12 days to get to the
southernmost point in the US. Tomorrow I was going to rest up, but
will do a 20 mile day or the mileage to the next State Park. We are
holed up in St. Augustine Beach in a KOA to receive mail tomorrow, and we
needed to be in St. Augustine at 2:30 for a doctors appointment for
Cathy. Nothing serious. So I got 29 free miles today, and have
no plans whatsoever to go and start back at the Ferry. I avoid
Jacksonville, which is now my custom. That is, avoid the big highly
A head wind on A1A did nasty things to my power source. I was
beginning to think about my tendons and then decided to slow down. I
went as low as 9 mph for a couple of stretches which kills me, for some
reason. But it is what the road gave. Only take what you can give,
and only give what you can take.
In Fernandina, Florida I came across a sad situation. A local
coffee store with great lettering on the front window which got my
attention in the Historic District sat next to a Seattle's Best Coffee, owned by
Starbucks. When I stopped to fill up with espresso, I found the
local store had closed. SBC was going gang busters.
Please take a look at the write up on this situation.
SBC is a foil for Starbucks and they can scout out local markets without
the risk of opening a store. If you use SBC your sales data goes to
the Giant Starbucks and they can pick off winners without hesitation or
risk. They know the market because you told them.
This is also
true of local roasters that can compete in your market. It is always
dangerous to give them your sales data, which you do every time you order
I'm biased for sure, but it makes sense to use a regional
roaster that is not interested in retailing. Even if the roaster is
a couple of days away from your location. Two days planning is not
hard to manage, but you want to make sure that the regional will ship
overnight if needed, at their expense. Our KMO motto, one of
several, is to Never Let a Customer Run Out of Coffee, no matter
what. Get it out, get it to them. Nothing hurts your sales
like a stock out. All of our key people have been in the retail
coffee business and we know what it is to be in your shoes.
Jacksonville through to St. Augustine is not a bike friendly trek.
It does have a bike lane which is great to see, but pack lots of
water. There is a stretch of 25 odd miles without service, unless
you knock on one of the waterfront homes for assistance. This time
of year most are not occupied. It is hot and the sun is
strong. It is the sun that is getting to me here in Florida.
I've always had the constitution to work, run or bike in the heat for long
periods. Perhaps it has shortened my life, but I won't know that
ever, so I keep doing it. If you can do this, then go at it.
If not, go to the mainland and use the services or carry enough food and
water for a long, hot trip.
The islands south of Fernandina carry the
same warning from me. Headwinds prevail, and water is scarce and
unless you carry a refrigerator with you, warm. So be prepared and
the Boy and Girl Scouts leaders will be proud you retained the motto,
"Be Prepared". You know, this is probably the source of my
backing up most of what I do. In business I always had a back
door. That is, a way to unravel and restart projects should I hit an
Most of my customers and none of the stores I've
stopped at have two espresso machines. Perhaps they have two boilers
so they are not out of business if the espresso machine goes down. I
had three single group Rancillio espresso machines that I could, and did,
move around when needed. This was true too when we expected a big
event to flood the store. A parade at Thanksgiving is what I think
of. Our in town cafe got lots of business in a very short period of
time, long lines dominated. So bringing in the second group was a
plus and limited the investment in this store as it did not need 15,000
dollars in espresso equipment. If I had one store I'd have a two
group machine. I also used the single groups at carnivals and
festivals and special events where we had a booth.
Tomorrow is a light
day, I hope twenty or so miles, and then I'll move to 40 again. Its
the heat that limits the miles. If it cools down, as I planned for,
I might get to 50 or more again. This has been great fun, difficult,
but it sure tells you that a 61 year old overweight person can do this
ride and get back into shape for the last third of THE race.
business, do what you want to do or you won't be happy. If you are
not happy, watch out.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Made it. I actually felt pretty good going across
the border to Florida from Georgia. To boot it was a very narrow
bridge with a grate so it took some walking, so technically I walked into
Florida, but you and I know the truth.
Nice sign, but it reminds me of the old Miami. I am
happy I was riding a bike and not carrying any produce. Good forbid
you purchased food in a Georgia Supermarket. The agricultural police
and signs were all over the place, which, given the fruit fly problem in
California some years ago, I guess, makes sense.
I left Brunswick, Georgia expecting to have a 20 mile
jaunt to the border, but I miscalculated and it was more like 35.
The weather turned Florida on us and rose to 85 or 86 and this days ride
was difficult, especially after I ate a positively wonderful meal at Creative
Catering and Deli, Woodbine, Ga. If I was giving out prizes for
the best shop, I've seen this one would get it, and I have to apologize to
the other folks who run top draw coffee houses. Please take a look
at the write up here.
Well the ride was straight as an arrow. I remember a
few bends in the road, but basically it was straight from Brunswick to
Florida. I think the RV park, billed as the first in Florida, which
it is, on Rte. 17, and presumably there are not too many more within a
mile of the border, is in Yulee, Florida. Sun took its toll on me
today, not the heat, but the sun. I was anxious to get out of it.
And I walked slowly into the Swimming Pool. Now this
was not rehearsed, or thought about or planned. But here we are in
Florida and it is the first pool I've been in. What?.
Why? It must be Freudian because it was on my mind as soon as I
crossed the border. I got a free ice cream here from Phil the person
who has owned this RV Park for the past two years. He seems
Met Gary, a 70 year old retiree who rides a motor scooter,
which I thought was more a motorcycle than scooter. It is a Suzuki
and is permitted on the super highways because it has the strength to go
fast, up to 90. Gary came down from West Virginia, he has family in
Fernandina, Fl, a short ride on the islands of Florida. I expect to
get on A1A tomorrow and ride through it to St. Augustine, where Cathy has
resaved a spot in the KOA. Should be about 65 miles and I hope like
crazy that the off shore wind is at my back. Today it was head on
most of the way. We have to get our mail at this spot - we stopped
looking for KOA because they charge $10 more than the other private sites,
and I guess we are starting think like retired folks do. So Gary can
carry his wife, and plenty of groceries in his Suzuki and I can see my
next toy. Maybe, as our machine is perfect for this kind of
travel. No bothers.
This is a delicate matter since Cathy would kill me
if she reads it. We had a discussion last evening about the trip and
how it has gone and how much time Cathy spends in the motor home doing all
the things she does, which is a lot. The meal last night took two
hours including set up and cleanup. So we have to make some changes
to accommodated the increased functions we are attempting. I'm
definitely getting healthier and lighter, and we have seen many coffee
shops, and I'm getting to write this site, which I love to do. But
we are not getting any site seeing or much together time, x being in the
same space a lot. So we will adjust. Both of us are committed
to getting to Key West, although my original goal was to get to Florida,
then I made it Fort Meyers, and then did a Bob and changed it to the
furthest point south.
If all goes well I could be in Key West playing folk and
bluegrass with my old friend, and pirate ship entertainer, and love song
writer and singer Rich McKay, also a member of the Frobisher
Bay Volunteers, the College singing group I had the great pleasure of
playing with. This link is to a YouTube video we did in 1989, but
Rich is not there because he was hung up in Key West.
I'm uncertain in re the route to take. 17, with all
its ups and downs has proven to be a good route. I'm going to try
A1A for the first time tomorrow, and then will take a look at US 1.
So please tell me what you think. What
While in the RV Park Harold Curtis, 75, came by and
chatted a bit. He was a long distance trucker for his entire career,
1952 to 1992, when he retired. His son he trained to drive and is
now driving long distance. Harold spends the winter here in Yulee,
Florida, and in April heads to Spencer NY, where he drops anchor for the
summer. His boat is a large trailer with multiple slide-outs and he
and his wife and dog live in it full time. Not a bad idea.
Gary also lives full time with his wife in his fifth wheel. I like
the idea and I especially like the weather down here and I like the
mobility. I also like the trailer as it is much less expensive than
a motor home.
But I too need mobility beyond the scooter
My thoughts for the day have to do with housing.
I've ridden now 1,000 miles. Along much of this route, 17 to be
precise, there are thousands of small homes - trailers, old small
buildings of perhaps 200 to 300 square feet, many falling down buildings
of 400 to 1000 square feet, and a ton of mobile homes, which I think make
a lot of sense for a person who wishes to put their money in places other
than the great American Money Pit, AKA, a house - and it sure looks to me
like there is a lack of living funds in the area bordering 17, with some
obvious exceptions where the other extreme exists. I began to get
angry today and had to remind myself that this has nothing to do with me,
my business or is anything I can control.
The creative me says this might be called a neighborhood,
a 600 0r 700 mile long by 100 feet deep neighborhood, of folks in similar
circumstances. Low income is the dominant demographic. Many of
the homes are well kept, lawns mowed, gardens growing, houses
painted. Others are deplorable, and still others are termite food.
In stark contrast we toured the ruins of the Huntington
Homestead just below Myrtle Beach. They were rich, but, anyone who
came to their homes and gardens looking for work, got it. They got
good wages and rumor has it that the Huntington family made sure they had
medical care as well as adequate housing. Good example they set, but
when they moved they gave away the house, and left no money to continue
this grand tradition.
So where are the philanthropists now. It would be so
easy for them to pick single families and help them get things
together. No grand gestures, No grand programs. Just
take a bike ride down Route 17, and start with the first house you
see. Get to know the family, understand their position in life and
then make appropriate recommendations and fund them. Perhaps there
is a way we could get something started in the coffee industry.
I wrote before about issues with the Fair Trade process
when so many American Families need help. So perhaps we can put
something together and start down route 17 in your neck of the
woods. Just pick one family to start with. Understand we can
not control what they want and what they need. We certainly can
influence there opinions, but the receiver of the 'funding' or help must
themselves decide how to use the resources we can make available. Or, we
could stick to housing. I will do some work on this and have ideas I
hope as I go along. Lets see what Florida brings.
If you have ideas on this subject please write to me at email@example.com
or 'Contact Us Now' form through this
log and site.
I'll bet there are a lot more route 17's in this country
and that one family at a time we can bring change and improvement here at
Boy did I feel good going over the border into
Florida. Its a bit hard to believe I've come this far. And I'm
looking forward to meeting up with some friends along the way now.
Colleen Kelly and friend and associate from the banking days, Diane
Marlowe from High School, and with great anticipation and I hope a chance
to play good music for others, Rich McKay.
Almost. I hope the heat is the reason so many of
these homes I speak of have windows covered completely. All the
windows. I have a suspicion that some of them just don't want others
in their lives for whatever reason.
A word on white lines. The old painted ones are
preferred. The new tape or something that is put down has ridges
that grab bike tires. In some places there are several layers which
makes it dangerous. Shoulders are needed especially if the price of
gas keeps going up.
I can not imagine America without sufficient gasoline to
move our cars and out butts around the country and around the town.
America is on the move and I'm thinking that if there was a credible
threat to gasoline supply (how's that for a government sponsored term) the
country should deal with it. Not on a price issue, but on a supply
basis, which would in term effect price, but the point is to maintain the
supply of energy to keep us moving. I think that if Americans could
not move where and when they want it would create sure havoc in the
country. There is a tremendous amount of energy expended driving
around and moving from place to place and I'm not talking about gasoline
energy, I'm talking about emotional or physic energy. If we could
not move, the I think Kinetic energy build up would be something to behold
Sunday October 14, 2007
I enjoyed brilliant sun shine, a nice breeze variable in strength and
direction, a great surface and some pretty nice people again.
The 62 miles was not as difficult as the last 60 mile day, but that is
not to say it is easy. Its hotter today and I went through probably
2 gallons of water.
Kelvin and Bridget drove up to me while resting in the shade in Derien,
GA. Kelvin is from that town, and Bridget is from NY I think.
They admired the bike and were interested in getting three wheeler for a
member of her family. If you are reading this Bridget or Kelvin
please call me at 856 825 8213 or firstname.lastname@example.org
and give me your phone number or e-mail and I'll get the information for
you. Start with www.EZRacers.com.
Jim was riding a new spiffy bike when I arrived at the campground and
we road the last 1.5 miles into the camp. No rest for the
weary. We chatted about biking and his experiences on a motorcycle
which he has driven around the country, including Montana, North Dakota
and lots more. He is a retired insurance company staff member.
He joked that he got rid of his balloon tire, beach bike because if you
notice, it is the bike of choice for homeless people. And when I
think of it, it seems right. So he ditched his, and bought the new
one from Wal-Mart who promptly discontinued the bike and the parts so he
could not find a tube, until he found a local, independent bike shop where
he got the needed tube.
I've become pretty particular about my bottled drinking water, which I
would prefer not to use, but all the literature on camping suggests you
not drink the water. So we don't. When leaving the KOA at exit
87 on 95, all they had was Dasani. I don't like it for it is the
only water I've seen that lists ingredients. I asked the clerk if
they had other water, and she told me that Dasani was drinking
water. She is the first and only obstinate person that Cathy and I
have run into, but we thought is was epidemic at this site. They
were Really good at giving direction and not listening, which is a no no
for entrepreneurs. You must listen to your customers. No
matter what happens or what they say. I am debating just erasing
this paragraph because I am uncomfortable relating bad manners, but in
business you take the good with the bad, and use the bad to learn and
change. So... here it was.
I passed at least 100 churches today, including one that claimed to be
the smallest church in the USA. It was about the size of a small
backyard shed. The nicest one I have seen on the whole trip is just
a mile north of this campground. Nice stone work, nice properly
sized steeple, red doors with floral arrangements. Very neat and
very attractive. But I guess we should not judge a church by its
building. There were perhaps 10 advertising the next singing group,
and a couple of whoppers with buses and events like Home Coming.
The schools all have huge stadiums. The local telephone company
had an interesting sign urging the local High School Team to
Intimidate and Dominate
so I thought the head of the phone company must come from
Texas. But this is Georgia, and Georgia Tech territory so I guess
it's ok to teach the youngsters good interpersonal skills for working at a
chain store or McDonalds. Where is good sportsmanship? I
played high school football for two years along side Bob Schiraldi, he at
end, me at tackle and we played both ways, offense and defense. On
offense we had 'trick' lineman calls like Banana, or Tomato, which told us
which fellow on the other side to block. Bob and I did not have to
intimidate the other team because we were just plain good enough to knock
them aside for our fullback, or tail back, or our QB trying to
scramble. How about Excellence and knocking the other guy down
instead of 'Intimidate and Domoinate'. There were no opposing
linemen who could have intimidated me or Bob, we could slip and slide and
cross over and let them in a step and then blast them from the side, or
trip them. No problem if you are physically fit and quick.
I hope the coffee stores in Georgia don't take
offense. I'm not saying anything bad about Georgia Football, its
good and its ingrained and I appreciate it. Jim, the fellow above
who rode into the campground with me, at age 15 took up boxing and
eventually became a pro. Even he though needed more to hit and run
and jab than practice intimidation. No one can intimidate you, only
you can intimidate you. If you are confident in your skills and
actions then on you go, in coffee or football.
I watched Oz a bit on HBO until it got to be too much to
take. But that fictional prison, and I suppose real prisons, are the
only places I can think of where you must Intimidate and Dominate.
Or the telephone company. Phone companies, right or wrong in their
actions, are expert at intimidation and they dominate us. $175
to quit because of lousy service?
In Derien I bought a gallon of water and clerk at the K
store blest me and everyone she helped. Good person. The
person ahead of me used a $50 denominated food coupon and got $39 in
change. Then she bought two $5 bets or numbers or something.
It strikes me as mean spirited for the government to take that ladies
money and pour it into programs she has no chance ever of enjoying.
It is behavior the sheriff of Nottingham would admire., 'take from
the poor, give to the rich'. Cathy and I are sitting tonight
in a beautiful County or State Park of 1100 acres, sites that are actually
level, staff that are generous and humorous and involved. The last
camper I saw pulled in with a spanking new Airstream and it was
beautiful. This morning across from us in the KOA were four huge
diesel coaches, each of which cost over $250,000, not counting the car
behind it. Those four coaches cost over $1.000,000. Now the
KOA is not the County park but it shows the type of money involved in the
camping. The lady in Derien has little chance of enjoying this
campground, which, in a round about way, she pays for. Every state
says the money goes to the elderly (who are the only people driving big
coaches other than music stars) or to education. But by using the
gambling proceeds the state avoid operating expenses, so, in a round about
way, that lady gambler is paying for my campground.
I had to ask Cathy why she was doing so much to support
this trip. It was on my mind today. She is cooking, driving,
getting sites, getting food, calling directions, walking Ruby, feeding me,
making beds, unmaking beds, doing laundry, cleaning and every once in a
while sitting. I know if I asked her to support a trip on which I
thought I could back into physical condition, she would do it. This
trip began that way, I'll ride and lose weight and we would
site-see. Then I realized I could visit a lot of customers and then
I realized that I might make some contribution to other stores, by
documenting the successes independent stores enjoy. So, no sight
seeing. And a lot more work for Cathy which she does without
question of hesitation. You guys out there planning a trip like
this, which I urge you to do, especially if you are near my size, make
sure you clear it with the wife. She will be very busy and must be
able to drive the rig. Which is one reason we got rid of the 37
footer pulling an F150 that held the bikes, and traded down to a more
compact, but comfortable motor home.
Including the test trip to New York, we have lived almost
a month and a half now in the 9 x 20 room(s). But after a few
claustrophobic days and nights it is working. Which is amazing for
us since we have so much space at home. Perhaps we will learn that
it isn't necessary to have a mini estate to be happy. Which both of
us actually knew well before we plunged on our home of 3 and 1/2
years. Prior to our current abode, we rented a condominium for 12
years or so, and missed the huge run up in home prices, so that we could
sustain Kaffe Magnum Opus. We scarified a great deal in order to
enjoy a satisfactory retirement now, which was latter back then. So
far so good, although I begin to realize that I will never completely give
up business, for I love it. Not necessarily my business, but
business is what I love. Its challenging and constantly changing and
I like all of that.
I hope you do to, because you are in a challenging
position, running a retail coffee operation, and the market is constantly
changing. Stay abreast of the market, your market. Be involved
in community affairs and business luncheon groups who are in the
know. Find out early if a new competitor is coming to town, or
planning to come to town, and perhaps you can get the site first.
But you have to know. Even if you don't get the site, and choose to
stick with a single location you can make the necessary changes in your
business to succeed with the new competitor. As Jim the boxer said,
"never did I stop moving'. It was the only way he could survive
in the ring, and it is the surest way to win in the coffee business.
Thanks to Steve Bruce for very nice note, and thanks to
Daniels father for a very nice note, and thanks to Rose of Jitterz for a
good note and a correction to her page.
Tomorrow is Florida, a big event on this ride. We
plan to go south on 17, pick up A1A and go over to the state parks on the
coast between Fernandina Beach and Atlantic Beach. Next day we will
go to St. Augustine and pick up mail and pay some bills. So hold
your britches Amex and Visa. The money is in the mail
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Its good riding on Saturday, fewer trucks and workmen on the way home
with a belt under their belt. Not one honker today. Neither
Cathy nor I were quite sure how to get out of Point South, a place on
route 95 with the usual hotel, waffle house, mc Donald crowd. I
missed them coming in because I came from another direction and was
focused on getting off the bike.
17 joined 95 and I can't ride there so I took Frontage Road, which
seemed to parallel Rte. 97/17. It did for 12 miles and then hooked
up with 17 South. Terrific, ultra low traffic, I bet 20 cars in 12
miles. I did have an anxious moment this morning and would have
liked to have had Leo Lawrence, Marine, with me. He is in North
Carolina in Maggie Valley on Vacation. What happened is I looked in
the mirror and there was a van passing a car that was a couple of hundred
yards behind me. I never heard him arrive, and he was going my
speed. After the van passed the white car, the white car continued
another couple of hundred yards and then passed me and went on its way, I
hoped. I'd been shadowed, reason unknown. It had three men in
it, two sitting in the NY slouch. My paranoid self thought they were
casing me and it was only while writing this that I realized the van may
have saved me and them a bit of trouble. So thank you Van (caps
intended). I guess this is the reason I'm sticking to 17 and not
going into the back road routes of Adventure Cycling. Not I guess,
Hey, just had an alligator rise to the surface of the lake we are
staying at in Rolling Something. I went over to take a picture of
white birds sitting in a tree and more arriving. As I stood there
focusing up popped George. The KOA has no warning signs anywhere,
but when we asked about the critters, the staff said don't walk your dog
there because little critters attract them. Here is Alli's cousin
Stealthy son of a gun. I bet this is where the seals got their
start, no disrespect at all.
Side view as George was doing a 360.
The birds I went to photo are:
? A lady Cathy spoke to said they roost there all night, every
night, and leave in the morning. This picture I was lucky to get one
in flight. The trees, three trees, are full of them.
Our next door neighbors are different, two Harley riders with pop up
I took this picture on the sly, stealthily so as not to raise his
suspicions, but I'll ask him latter to ride shotgun for me tomorrow, until
I get out of Georgia.
This is the campground we are at tonight and it struck me that this life
we are temporarily living is pretty good. You get a different view
every night and daily life is really an adventure. We were talking
earlier about the price of gas and how it did not stop motor homes, as
this camp is full tonight and they say there isn't an opening within fifty
miles. I thought no matter what the price of gas Americans will move
around, always. If we can't then the government better watch
out. Can you imagine another Nineteen Seventy Three? But this
time with real limits? I guess reality is the government knows this,
and this is the reason they go all out to maintain our supplies, at any
Well, speaking of Harley Davidson, today in Ridgeland, SC I was sitting
at the intersection of 17 and 46 or something like it wondering which way
to go, and along came Mrs. Davidson, although I didn't know her
then. She rolled down the winder and hollered, 'Need help' and I
replied "where is 17?". She just pointed to the
right. And off I went. About a half mile latter she was
getting out of her car when I passed and we got to talking.
You going to Hardeeville?, she asked.
Well, kinda, I'm headed to Key West.
You get to Florida you look up the Peal's, huh.
Who?, says I.
P, E, A, L, Peal, I gots family in Florida. I'm a Clinton or
something like that, married a Davidson (which I couldn't understand at
that moment) and I gots Peals in Florida. Family.
Ah, says I. I'll do that. What was your last name?
Davidson, like the motorcycle.
I drew a blank and she knew it.
Like Harley Davidson, she says, spelling it out for me.
Then, "Here comes some traffic, you better get going, be safe out
I hope you can determine who said what in this conversation. She
also asked me how old I was, and after I replied she said she was
74. "My husband's been sick for 16 years and he can't hardly
live and he can't hardly die." I felt bad for this lady, she
probably hasn't been out of Ridgeland for a long time, and I don't think
she has been down to Florida, maybe 130 miles south. But clearly she
was helpful so I gave her a flyer and flew. She seemed happy
and was upbeat and involved in living.
The road to Hardeeville is long, about 15 miles. It was two lane
all the way, but very few trucks and a lot of northbound Harley's, I bet
looking for Mrs. Davidson. Several stretches were treed overhead
with the moss hanging down, exactly what you would expect in South
Carolina and the south. Very nice. The surface sucked, bumpity
bump bumpity bump for 15 miles and a rough, old blacktop now grey.
But little traffic so I slowed down to a cruising speed and the bumps did
not bother me as much. I was thinking about Steinbeck and his three
month trip around the country. First, it was not nearly enough
time. Second, he did not talk to enough people. Third, he
would have been better off with a bike. He spent more time in Texas
for a Thanksgiving "orgy" as he described it, meaning a lot of
food - like everything in Texas, Thanksgiving is large - then he did
in New Orleans where he went to see first hand the attempted, and
successful integration of the local schools.
But, like the birds I saw tonight and got pictures of:
the white ones have their tree,
and the black ones had theirs. This is not trick photography as that
ability is not one of mine. Nor is it a shadow shot of the black
birds. Rather within a hundred yards the two different colored birds
roosted each with its own color without mixing.
Some might point to this as an illustration of the natural order of
things, but I do not. Birds don't think, as far as we know, but
humans do, as far as we think. "I think, therefore I am"
said Thomas Aquinas, I believe. So if we think, why can we not see
each other as humans - we all came from one fine lady named Lucy who lived
in Africa - for certainly today we still don't fully integrate
anything. Steinbeck I think fictionalized a conversation with a
hitch-hiker, but the essence of it was that it would take a long time for
us to integrate, as long as it took to intermarry and homogenize the
country. Perhaps the large influx of immigrants will speed this
process. I think Steinbeck and his hitch-hiker were real close to
seeing the future, and it was 50 years ago. Certainly we can live
side by side, and I hope live well together and give each person their
proper due. The language of the country is homogenizing and
everything else will follow, I think.
Then there was Leroy Johnson, the Plumber. I stopped along
Frontage Road to take a movie of a fast moving freight train, and when
it's flight was over, a couple of cars crossed the tracks coming in my
direction. I noticed the driver of a white van, and we exchanged
salutes. Two hours latter I'm two blocks from Cathy who waiting in
the motor home, and I'm passing Crabs Restaurant billed as the best lunch
in the town of Hardeeville, when who comes out the door of the restaurant
but the man in the van. We both laughed, exchanged greetings and got
into the usual conversation of "Where you going?, Where are you
from?, What do you do? and oh, what is your name." And when he
said Leroy Johnson, I said we must be related somewhere along the
line. Cathy could see me stop and sit in the street talking to Leroy
but she had not an inkling of what was up, so she called and asked if I
was ok. Leroy and I both got the message I guess and we said our
goodbyes. I gave him a flyer so he can tell his grandchildren about
the crazy guy riding a crazy bike he ran into one day in
Hardeeville. He yelled he'd have to speak to his wife, but he'd
likely call me to find out about going into the coffee business, "try
something new", he explained. He then mentioned $2 cups of
coffee and his eyes lit up.
If he only knew. I don't expect to hear from him, but if I do, he
is welcome to visit the plant.
There are some very nice people in this neck of the woods and I'm glad
to have met a few. My classmate Phil Stork, who is quite
something. He organized our 30 year high school reunion and got near
98% attendance. How many people can do that? Not many I
think. But Phil now lives in North Carolina and he responded
"what else would you expect in North Carolina?" (The South I
think he meant). I guess he is right. Its pretty nice
down here, although Mrs. Davidson told me to stay out of Savannah cause
someone get shot there every day, which, if she only knew is a lot better
than Philadelphia, the city closest to my home.
I had to drive across the South Carolina/Georgia border, and kept right
on going, around Savannah, treating it as we now expect to treat
every metropolitan area. I hear it is beautiful and one of the
original purposes of this trip was to see Charleston and Savannah.
But it will have to be on our return trip or another trip for that
purpose. I did not like driving across the Georgia line
as I wanted to call Leon Werkheiser from the line and sing with him on the
telephone, "In the Pines". It goes: "The
longest train I ever saw was on the Georgia line, the engine passed at 6
o'clock, the cowl came by at 9".
Tomorrow I plan at least 50 and maybe more so that I can get into
Jacksonville on Monday. Its great riding on Sunday's because
everyone is in church or sleeping in. The weather is smashing and I
hope it keeps up for a few days. We just looked at the distance
using US 1 from Jacksonville to Miami; it is 345 miles. Then 165
miles to Key West. The total of 510 miles I might do in say 12 to 15
days, given good conditions. This means we will finish the southern
run around October 28, 2007, which would give us more time to sight see on
the ride home.
Friday, October 12, 2007
First of all I thought it was the 11th, and if not for this log, I
would still think it. The trip throw's me off a bit.
This is the kind of road you would like to ride in South Carolina.
Where you find old buildings like this one.
And Plantation Roads like this.
And I did a little.
And birds like this one with a very different call.
I'm riding the most direct coastal route I saw on the map, and it
is. It has ups and downs, some shoulders, and no shoulders, traffic,
and no traffic, yahoos and googlers, and a lot of pine trees, which are
plentiful in our home county. But the sky and clouds or lack of
clouds, and in general light traffic, make this a trip well worth the
effort. Today was another 56, i.e., around 60 mile day, and I plan
two more this weekend and hope to get to Florida to start the week off
among retired people. Here's why.
In Revendale, or something like it, a very small town with a single
long sidewalk that no one uses and as far as I remember 1 traffic
light. Well I was looking in the mirror as I approached the light
and I guess I went trough a red one. I know this to be true, for a
helpful foe peeled out just as I passed. I threw him the thumbs up,
which is my new fickle finger of fate, and went on thinking he was just
another southern yahoo. But he wasn't. 'bout five or ten
minutes latter I'm riding along minding my own business since this is
about all I'm capable of right now, and along comes Mr. Peel Out. He
pulled along beside me and slows down to my 13 mph. He opens the
window, and shouts "do you know you RAN a Red Light back
there". I thought he was going to tell me how much he liked the
bike or the ride, or my shirt or me god forbid, but nope, he was playing
policeman. I couldn't figure out what to say to this minder of my
business. What do you say, 'go jump in the lake', or 'mind you own
business' or go ---- yourself, or throw him the new fickle finger of
fate. So all I could think of was "Yeah" and nothing
more. This is what after all my mother taught me. "Tell
the truth Robert and you will always feel good." but of course she
did not dare call me Robert, she called me something worse, but I won't
bend your ear with my Mother stories. Yet. So Mr. Peel Out is
a bit flabbergasted by my honest, Brooklyn, New York in your face
response, which to him is the ultimate Satanic answer. I knew I did
evil to this poor guy and he had to take it, or run me off the road.
So he ran. And boy was I happy then, because I have no idea what to
expect in these small towns.
A lot more honkers, and googlers who are people who ogle your stuff,
like my bike, camera, iphone and wallet. Cathy says
forgetaboutit. All they are doing is looking at the bike and
wondering what happened to the engine, which around 40 miles today I was
also wondering. I thought I got propositioned by a car with a female
and a ton of perfume, with a 'hey buddy', nice bike. Christmas I ran
like it was the end of the world and my life depended on it. Two
dogs today. Both dogs were fortunate to be behind fences because I
don't fool around with dogs no mo'. Once upon a time on an
upright bike a dog in Vineland came out from the left on a narrow street
and jumped right in front, or into, my front wheel. I went down with
a crack, like cracked wrist, and since then I take all dogs
seriously. I've only hit three with my Halt spray and all three
noses went right to the ground. The first beast was right in front
of a church on Mays Landing Road, the other two were on a farm road and
they were part of a four dog pack. This happened during the 2007
Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival. I hate to do it, because I'm
sure it hurts the dogs eyes and nose. But it is them or us bikers.
John Channel, aka John the Dancer called for the third time and I must
say it is good to get his touch base how you doing phone calls. John
is a terrific person, always smiling, just retired I think, and a pretty
good guitar playing bluegrass singing guy. He also shines his head
and dances at the shed, although he doesn't call it dancing. Paul
Petrone was also there and tells me there is only 90 miles in Georgia to
cover. Halleluiah. Paul lost part of a finger, he says in a
surfing accident. The rope that you tie the board to and then tie to
your hand apparently got wrapped around his finger and literally sawed
right though the last digit. Now this is what Paul says. I
think he was out there practicing his fiddle and the bass were running
hard and just plain don't like bluegrass music. One of those 70
pounders I think thought so little of it that he took that old finger, not
unlike Jonah. And who was it that opened Moby Dick, I remember,
''They call me Ishmael". Moby won that battle much the same as
the bass kicked Paul's butt. Not to make light of this misadventure,
for Paul had three operations on the darn finger and I'm sure that
finger hurt and the rumor is he is a pretty good surfer.
It is a real pleasure to speak to these friends while on the
road. Today I pulled over when I heard the phone ring and called
back the number in caller id. It was John, and I was standing in
front of Friendship Pentecostal Holiness Church, which I'm sure made John
very happy. He's trying to convert me to something or other.
My son Paul called today to bounce an idea off his dad's head.
Seems the phone company has his business number as an unlisted unpublished
number for two years and he has paid for this pleasure. What should
he do? Get a lawyer and sue? I suggested he write a letter to
the FCC or something and it would get the phone companies attention.
Otherwise they do their - 'yo no se' - trip or trick on
you. More importantly, Paul cut down two huge maple trees in his
side yard, which I think is the first step to another expansion of his
home. The story though was that his chain saw encountered an old
piece of barbed wire that was embedded in the tree, and not visible from
the outside. The saw grabbed the wire and proceeded to run it across
Paul's thigh. About 4.5 inches into the thigh. That could have
been real trouble and Paul described it as his lucky day since it missed
the artery and the tendons. That's a real halleluiah.
I have a way to congratulate myself at the end of each days ride.
I eat an ice cream bar, which is much better than eating one of the WaWa
pints I do at home. First the pints have no consumer protection
device, and some day some goon or patriot will put some junk in a few and
make it Tylenol 2. Every other ice cream maker puts cellophane or
plastic to fasten the top to the pint. Not WaWa, they need money so
badly they risk your life and mine for more. Second, the pint is
three times as much ice cream. But not to worry too much, because
there is enough air in the ice cream to blow up my front tire. I
know. I was a good humor ice cream man for three summers: when I was
a senior in high school and then two college summers. Our sales went
down as the amount of air went up. But from my view I buy WaWa and
not Ben and Jerry's, which I used to buy for the Cherry Garcia, because
WaWa is less calories due to the low quality. So onward and upward
WaWa, and I just hope it ain't me babe that gets the headache. I'm
converting to Toll House ice cream sandwiches.
The ride got to me today at around 40 miles. My legs began to
cough and sputter and generally make it known that enough was
enough. But it wasn't, so I cajoled them into thinking it was just a
mile to go for 16 times. And it worked. I got a third wind
around 50 and cruised in the last six. Thinking of the ice cream
helped me. And it will help you too.
In business I think it is good to have a vision of where you want to
be, like a Hawaiian Island, or $20,000,000 in sales or $250,000 in sales,
or the best coffee in the market and have a way to measure the quality of
yours and theirs. This is where my ice cream comes in. When
you make the goal, be sure to treat yourself to something good. Or
you may not do it again. How else do you think I can ride 30, 40 or
70 miles a day out here. " It's the Ice Cream stupid."
Who was it that coined that phrase...?
Ah, bubba. Today there was an electrician outside an electrical
supply house as I rode by on EZ. He shouted "go bubba', which
in this neck of the woods is a high order compliment I think.
Robert, our associate at KMO would know for I've heard him use the term
and he spend a great deal of time in these woods. So Robert, was he
urging me on or urging me to stop?
It is very good traveling through so many states on a bike. You
get to see and hear thinks you never do in a car. I've met people
that are quite nice and very considerate. Like the bike repairman
yesterday, David is his name. On the other hand, the man who
filled my propane tank this morning I think almost killed us. He
gets is pump hooked up to my tank and cranks away. Then he drains
his line and out comes a ton of liquid gas, which scared me half to death
since the Best Person In The World was in the camper. He said
"oh yeah', you can fill it with the valve open or shut, doesn't
matter". Well then why in the world do the propane experts in
Millville always make sure the valve is closed? This was not good,
but I choose not to play Mr. Peel Out, and let it go. Fate can
handle this one.
Tomorrow is Georgia, can you believe it?
10-12 end of story.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Incredible weather, dry 75 high a bit of a head wind, but the camp we
picked at 48 miles was full, and so it turned into a 68 mile day.
But that was fine with me. Around half way today screeching starting
coming from up front, metal on metal and it had to be the crank case so
had it replace tonight, and that was a lucky stop - head mechanic on - as
he knew exactly what to do. Got new pedals, with cleats, new
kickstand - longer so the bike will stand.
I was so excited and delighted to get the bike fixed today that I
neglected to get the pictures I normally get. It was David at The
Bicycle Shoppe, in Mount Pleasant. So this is the third bike shop
I've had to stop at, and all three were very good. This one tops the
list for expertise and availability. Telephone is 884 7433 in Mount
Pleasant South Carolina.
Guess where David is born. Well, not exactly Brooklyn, but really
close, Que Gardens in Queens, but his girl friend is from Brooklyn, which
makes him A ok. The waiter at Applebees was from Ohio and he says
half his high school class is down here. So again the people are on
I passed only one Coffee store that was part of a Chocolate store but
could not turn around on 17 at the moment. It is in the
Exchange Shopping Center on Rt 17 just south of Myrtle Beach.
Started this morning around 9, as I knew I might have a long ride
today. Commuters were on the move in the AM and I finished in the
Charleston area and they were on the move again. The day was
fantastic in between. Long stretches of highway with a two foot
shoulder and little traffic.
There are many smalls homes, cabins and roadside buildings that were
once businesses that are occupied by local people and I notice that
probably ten men were standing outside, along the road and they all, all,
carried a cane of some sort. About half waved. One was a
really good singer and a couple took great interest in the bike. It
attracts a lot of attention. I got the impression that many of these
structures were once occupied by slaves, which is a reminder of how close
that horrible human condition was to us in the states. I took it
that the men I saw were not employed during the day, but all of the homes,
with rare exception, were maintained very nicely, painted, lawns cut and
just plain nice. There are also a fair number of 'shacks' in fall
down condition and they are not occupied, but one wonders why they were
let go, as many have beautiful shapes and were clearly a workmans cottage
as my brother Gerry the builder in Kauai describes them.
In South Carolina there are roadside 'lean-to's' from which local
artisans sell baskets. I guess SC is know as a basket making
area. The sales take place from stalls that are permanent
structures, a roof, but open sides. Some have small rooms on the
back in which to sit in the shade but most of the artisans sat in their
cars along the road. Some were women, some were men, and the baskets
looked pretty good. I thought the only thing I had interest in would
be a sun protector. The sun is still hot and burns.
Today I saw the first deer dead on the side of the road. This is
strange since in New Jersey they are all over the place. There was a
lot of deer corn sold along the route so perhaps that influences where the
deer move. If the food is free they likely go to it at their own
In McClelendville, which is 28 miles in each direction from towns of
any real size, I stopped at the cross road at a country store that had to
be 10,000 square feet of everything under the sun. I was famished
and purchased my first baged, turkey and cheese sandwich, but I made it
through the day so it was fine. Its good to be riding in roughly
civilized areas so I don't have to carry as much water.
Tomorrow I plan to bypass Charleston - we have decided to leave the big
cities to another trip. The traffic and the time left are both
issues. So we will ride around Charleston on 526 which will save me
25 odd miles of perilous flight. If I can get in another 40 or 50
miles tomorrow, Friday, I'll be in Georgia on Saturday.
I was trying to remember how this trip came about, and must remember
that first is an effort to improve my health by losing the pounds put on
while building Kaffe Magnum Opus. I'm a stress eater. And two
is to do it. I guess you might say the challenge. I can tell
you there are not many folks headed south by bike along this route.
And most of the people I tell what I'm doing, which is easier with the new
t-shirts and flyers, don't seem to comprehend it. Oh is the most
common comment. Oh? They don't understand. The waiter
tonight asked what kind of bike I had and was surprised to find it was
powered by legs alone. And peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that
Cathy makes for me every day, and banana's, and oranges and apples, and
today a turkey and cheese sandwich. I've also stopped at Subways
along the way for their turkey sub on wheat roll. Why in the world
am I getting into this kind of detail?
I guess this log has turned into a place to put my observations and
experience along the way. Reading Steinbeck "Travels with
Charley In Search of America" intensified my awareness of the
events and people around me. And its really interesting to me and I
hope to you.
There is a wide division of wealth in this area of South
Carolina. There are many beautiful homes in
"plantations", which is another word for developments.
They are not viewed from the street, but I know they are large, new
and expensive. In contrast stand the homes I described before.
There is a lot of money in this area, and there seems to be opportunity
along this route form more coffee stores. And there is a lot of
poverty, but in well kept homes.
Today I must have ridden 30 0r 40 miles in basically wilderness.
There is a large national park here, and a forest named after the Swamp
Fox, Francis Marion. Lafayette was here too, and so was George
Washington, and of course Georgetown was named after the first King of
America, well almost king. Well, he could have been king, but he
choose another route; he must have been a very strong person to overcome
his peers desire to name him king, and to keep going during the
rebellion. I think it was six years between the first skirmishes in
New England and Yorktown. He must have been an intense focused
individual to bring his army through such deprivation each winter.
In those days we now know there was a little ice age taking place around
the northern Atlantic Ocean and the temperatures were much lower than
now. Hail George Washington, what would have done without
So he and his kind played an important role in creating the environment
in which entrepreneurs such you, can operate so freely. I believe
the first drafts of the constitution had the term 'in search of wealth',
not 'in search of happiness', which won the debate. I now ride on
roads created by these men, for us. So I plead you leaders of South
and North Carolina to add a two to three foot shoulder along the road
built or at least envisioned by Washington. I guarantee you that
bicyclists will come because this route is a terrific way to bike down the
coast. I don't really care how fast the traffic moves provided I
have a shoulder. In fact when there is a steady stream of cars going
fast in the same direction I'm headed I get a lift from the current they
Tomorrow morning Cathy and I are going to a park Cathy discovered today
the has an agility course for Ruby. I called Cathy earlier to day
and she was out of breath running with Ruby through the course and I'm
anxious to see it. So we will rise early.
And speaking of anxiety, I've had a low level anxious feeling every
day. I'm thinking its because I have don't know the terrain or the
people I'll run into each day.
And, I rode though historic downtown Georgetown today and its very nice
but coffee-store-less. There are a few hundred small shops and
places to eat and drink, a wharf with some small tall ships, signs 'don't
feed the alligators', and a steel mill which employs a bunch of
folks. At least there are a lot of cars in their parking lot.
I've never seen a working steel mill. This one has all kinds of
equipment, but it is all rusted. Clearly they like it like that as
everything from fork lifts to huge buildings are rusted. And
the plant does not seem to interfere with the serenity on the downtown
Which reminds me about yesterday in Conway. I saw my first
southern belle. She wore a very attractive summer skirt to her
ankles, in black florals, and she had a hat on. It was a wide
brimmed straw hat and she held her right arm and hand on it to keep it on
her head. And her accent was unmistakable. I can't tell
you what they were talking about - there were two other women but not so
decked out and older - but the lilting melodic tones were good to
hear. I'm guessing that the native born southerner is fast
disappearing, or at least the language of the native born southerner is
And by golly there are a lot of white churches along 17.
There have to be twenty at least in every named place, including
McClelendville that has only three fueling stations and country
store. I'm also guessing that there are a fair number of 'churches'
used as tax reducers. But this is not to say it in a disparaging
way. There are simply a lot of churches and some of them are
huge. Big brick structures with steeples rising high into the sky
are pretty commonplace. Each of these seems to have an equal amount
of space for the pastors, and for recreation and recruiting.
Religion is a big part of life here, and remember the coffee house in
Wilmington that remained closed on Sunday so the staff has a day of rest
and attend church together. Someone is paying for all of these
structures. Its too bad we've got so many denominations and can't
merge a few, and turn the empty ones into housing, much needed by many.
Today I saw a dead snake, either that or it was resting on its back in
the shoulder. It was green on top and yellow on the bottom and I'm
thinking it could probably kill. I guessed a viper of some sort, but
I'm no expert. But when I walk along these roads and the grass is
over a few inches, I walk very cautiously, and of course any time I see
water or any king, covered with green, running, brown running like the
Santee River North and the Santee River South, I look to avoid
alligators. They are a fact of life and I guess you just don't have
swimming holes. But where did Huck Finn live?
It isn't fair to end on snakes and alligators, but I will.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Another very hot day and I decided to rest a second day and drive to
some stores in Myrtle Beach. We met two very different folks both
successful in their own right. Margaret Curry operates Coffee
Etc. in a mall headlined by Krueger's and Letty Smith operates The
Trestle Bakery - Cafe, a super successful caterer, bakery and
cafe. Margaret made sure we visited The Trestle and I thank
her for the referral.
I've been waiting for the cooler weather and it is due tomorrow so I'm
going to increase the daily mileage. I'd like to be in Jacksonville
Florida early next week, and I think we can as it is only 340 or so miles.
I've never understood how folks can build a beautiful thing and then
severely restrict who can use it. Conway has constructed a terrific
board walk along the downtown waterfront. Only one car and one
couple was there. I think the reason is they do not allow bikes or
pets. The only wheeled vehicles allowed are wheelchairs and baby
But the ground is so soft, no wheelchairs could get through and I know
this from personal experience. And what will mothers do with the
youngsters who ride bikes? So it was not surprise to Cathy and I
that no one there. We have dog so we turned around and left although
we struggled a bit in the very soft turf.
In our business I think this falls in the same category of stores that
have many Don't Do signs or This Is For Customers Only signs. Like
the bathrooms I've discussed already. So think about what every sign
you put up says, that is, the surface message, and what it could mean to
people of various persuasions. It is good business to
understand your base and then communicate positively to it.
And, most signs are as effective as the speed limits on any
highway. Communication is two way, a person sends a message, and
someone receives the message. Then the sender has to make sure
somehow that the intended message was received as they intended.
This doesn't always work, as we all know from our personal
relationships. The state police are a device that states use
to make sure we get the message, but we still don't get it. Just try
doing 65 on 95. You'll be fighting a rearguard action all day
Please don't eat the daisy's tells folks that daisy's are worth
Tomorrow its off to Buck Hall camp ground in the national forest
between here and Mount Pleasant, SC.
Oh, Margaret Curry was born in Brooklyn and I think Niki her associate
said she was from New Jersey. Letty was from exit 8A on the Jersey
Turnpike, aka, East Brunswick and Barbara too was from I think New
Jersey. So the Steinbeck rule continues to apply. 50 years
after he forecast the homogenizing of the US, it is happening, although
for different reasons. He said TV and Radio would do it, but it is
the footloose and fancy freedom we all celebrate. Folks move around
a lot in this country. When visiting in Myrtle Beach you are
more likely to speak to someone from outside the area, than a native born
South Carolinian. I can tell you one thing though, in Horry County
South Carolina you don't pronounce the H. Leave it alone or you'll
be in trouble. It is Orie like in Oreo Cookie.
I hope tomorrow I have a shoulder to ride on.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Today was a personal day of rest. We hung out, visited the
Huntington Winter Residence ruins. Tomorrow I plan to go to a camp
the Park Ranger recommended, Buck Hall, along route 17. I've decided
to visit Charleston the next trip, bypass the city and head to Savannah,
The cities are just too darn dangerous. I'm told this isn't
so for Savannah.
Monday, October 8, 2007
The welcome we got at Jumpin'
Java and the help I got from Island
Hoppers Bicycle Repair were a grand way to finish North
Carolina. Help, warmth, good conversation, advice and superb
coffee. I carried an iced coffee away on the bike today for the
first time. It did not last long.
Last night stayed at Holiday Inn Express to see Jennifer's show, Cold
Case. Changing the routine was a bit disrupting. The hotel
phone called my room three times starting at 4:30 so I got up at
five. Not good for me, so I went back to bed around 7 and got up at
9, late for a bike ride and visits to coffee houses.
Then I did have one of those flats. Picked up some glass in the
rain yesterday which is the reason bikers don't ride on the grass next to
road into which all the broken beer bottles have been washed by the
rain. When Dan Beasley, who owns Jumpin' Java with Sara Misiti, a
fantastic couple, helped me get the bike off Betsey, it had too soft a
landing. Oops. The really god news though is that Steve Bruce
of Island Hoppers Bicycle Repair, on route 17 just south of Shallotte,
took me in, and put a new tire and tube on the bike for $10, and then he
threw a plastic tire iron in my saddle bag, gratis. This is not New
Both of these contacts with people in North Carolina I thought typified
my view of the Southern Gentleman and Lady. It was just a fine way
to start today's ride and finish North Carolina.. Dan suggested I
take 179 down through Calabash to South Carolina and I did.
Fantastic homes, many golf courses and access to the barrier
islands. I rode to the top of the bridge leading into Ocean Isle and
got homesick. Cathy and I lived in Ocean City New Jersey for many
years and both of us loved the ocean. The view of the
the town and jet
skiers on the inland water way, were too much for me to not think of
all the good things that have transpired to get me here. And the
smell of the Ocean is I guess universal. Aroma's play an important
part in our memory.
I know I've related to many people the story of how I entered the
coffee business. I walked into a Barnies Coffee and Tea in the
Galleria Mall in Philadelphia, and it was deja vue. I was the member
of our seven child family who got occasionally to grind the coffee in A
and P in our town, East Rockaway. I've carried that aroma with me in
my memory banks all my life, and when I smelled it in Barnies, it was
instant decision and off to Orlando to talk to Phil Jones who started and
used to own Barnies. He sold some time ago to I think S and P out of
Atlanta, or something similar and I am very happy I'm not with that
company as a franchisee. But the point is the smell pulled me in as
it does to so many of our customers and your customers, and I've loved it
The ride to Myrtle Beach
The first 16 or so miles were fine. Then it got very hairy.
The moment I rode into South Carolina the shoulder disappeared and I
should have stopped there. Being Bob however I pushed on to Little
River and had lunch in a Subway with a bunch of hooligans. I stood
at the window and watched my bike very carefully. No shoulders in
Little River, No Shoulders in Myrtle Beach, and the local Info person
suggested I go route 9 to 31 and take 31 as it had wide shoulders, which
it did. But the kicker was no bikes allowed on 31, which is nuts
since it is lightly traveled and the surface and shoulder are very bike
friendly. You non long distance bikers may think it improvident to
ride on a super highway, and it is, as one hit is the last hit. But
they are the best roads, and given the alternative in Myrtle Beach, the
super highway looked like the proverbial walk in Central Park. That
is, ok to a point. In any event, 9 had no shoulder and a surface
like scar-face Capone, so I turned around and went back to the no shoulder
route 17 which was a big mistake. No sooner do I get back than a
bridge over the inland waterway presents itself, with a sidewalk I can't
see from 500 yards. So I take out my camera, zoom in and ah, there
is a small sidewalk. So I decide to quit and call Cathy to come get
me. By this time Cathy is halfway down 31 and takes a few minutes
longer than my patience could take so I walk across the bridge holding on
for dear life as the biggest cement trucks I've ever seen career past and
make this magnificent bridge appear to be as good as the bridges in
Minneapolis. I did get across and I bet you can write the next
sentence. So I'll quote you. "No shoulders".
But this time the road expands to three lanes going 75 miles an hour hell
bent to get home from work. And then Cathy catches up and passes
me. But did she get off the Cherry Beach exit? I call again
and breath deeply as she is but a few hundred feet ahead, around the bend,
in a Comfort (?) Inn parking lot. So this is how I got to Huntington
Beach State Park tonight.
I'm skipping Myrtle Beach and will leave it to the golfers, one of
which I used to be, and did indeed play four or five rounds in Myrtle
Beach with my good friend Joe Prendergast who has since disappeared.
We played in January and the really good part of that is the water hazards
are iced in the morning in January. So your balls bounce off
them. It's hysterical and wonderful. Anyway he handed me a
ball one of those old days and it exploded when I hit it. No
kidding. Of course he knew it would happen. And we laughed for
a long time. That's what I remember of Myrtle Beach, exploding golf
I'm sorry to you coffee house owners in Myrtle Beach. The next
time around I'll be on a Harley 1350.
So what do you think is the first thing of note we see in the state
park. You guessed it. Alli the Alligator and his brother and
sister, and if you go to this link
you too will see Alli and his family.
So I go up to the very nice lady in this beautiful Ocean front state
park and ask for a site not near alligators, and she says, with a straight
face, "Oh you don't have to worry", ?? "its been a long
time since someone gat et by an alligator". I could not stop
laughing again. This must be contagious in South Carolina as you can
see. Between Joe Prendergast and this lady, notwithstanding 15 years
absence, nothing has changed. Exploding golf balls. After
today I would love to play golf again, which I have not done really since
I played the British Open Courses, including Carnoustie, this years site,
with a 9 handicap. I hit 82, pared Hogan's alley (no Alli's there)
which is the first six holes, impressing my caddy Richard Johnson who is
no relation. And then I quit. It was a life dream to play
those courses and there is nothing, I mean nothing in Myrtle Beach that
compares in any way and I am sorry to say it and I apologize to you
Argentina. There is not a dry eye in this place.
So it was a good day all around. My training on the long island
expressway and southern state parkway on long island, and my trips to NYC
all paid off. And we got to see a sunning alligator without getting
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Oh the rain is cold and softly falling, upon my glasses today, and
though you seem to be much drier, I rather be right here in the rain.
I got as close to church as I've been in a while, not counting our
family visits with son Paul and Family. There was a little white
church, with a front porch and of all things with a ramp up one
side. I promptly visited for a while and watched crazy motorcycle
riders hunched over their frames, neck at a 60 degree angle, and I could
hear them think. And it wasn't nice. I'll never understand why
then don't stop, as if it is not dangerous enough to ride dry. My
son Paul has a Harley and he and Michelle go riding once in a while, and I
fret a bunch about it. I love him and I love his wife and I love his
children, my grandchildren and I would hate to see them grow up without
Paul. I left a five dollar donation with a note inscribed
"Sorry about the bottle I left on the porch, and thank for a way to
stay dry" and signed off with the web address for the ride.
No stores today.
In Wilmington it was beautiful, hot, blue sky some clouds light wind
from the north, which sounds a lot like Los Angeles, where both Jennifer
my daughter and Paul my brother live. Tonight is Jennifer's show on
CBS at 9 - Cold Case and I can't wait to see it. We rented a room in
the Holiday Inn Express for that purpose as most camp grounds have poor
reception and we have not had a good cable hook up yet. So we have
not watched television, x an hour or so, since we left New Jersey on
September 19, 2007. Jennifer provides not only a good excuse to
watch, but an equally good one to enjoy a pint of Ben and Jerry's and a
small bag of potato chips. Yes sir. My weakness on both
counts. But i found a scale at the Inn and found out I was down to
252, which for me is a good number because I started this ride at 275 ish
and that is on the high side of ish.
I have to admit that not everyone can ride this distance day in day
out, but really the plan was pretty simple. I had lots of people
tell me to get a stress test, get this, get that, check your blood
sugar. I refused not for want of caring but I knew my body and I
knew that if I started short and worked up day by day I'd do fine.
It was either start slow and build up shape in Vineland and Millville and
then start in October, and miss the weather, or start now and get in shape
as I went. If you are retired and have a partner who will
drive the escape vehicle, then you too can lose a lot of weight pretty
quickly. Join me on the ride. You won't slow me down because I
won't wait for you but will meet you at the days destination. This
is ok as you will not feel guilty. As Mike said, "just do
it". There is so much wisdom in those three words it is hard to
let it pass without a word.
Up the Organization has a two paragraph prescription for decision
making. Its simple again and this time only one word.
Decide. Cathy and I were sitting in a doctors office and discussing
retirement and the doctor asked what we liked to do - music, sing, ride
bikes, movies, dog and dog training ... And the light went off right
there and then. I had always wanted to ride across the country so I
decided to ride across the country, starting in three weeks. The
only compromise since then is this warm up ride down the east coast.
Dan Kinkade lived on the West Coast and would join me on a ride from San
Diego to Seattle. So that will be the next leg. The only thing
is with multiple riders you must agree on stop and start times and
routes. I'm determined to visit coffee stores - we found one while
out for Mexican Dinner - there are five Mexican Restaurants in this small
town - and I will visit the coffee store, Jumpin Java in the morning
as I ride out to Myrtle Beach. But the point of 'just do it' and
'decide' stuff is just that.
Stop flip flopping, stop evaluating your health; it is likely not too
good. Be crazy, quit a year early and go for ride in this great big
park we live it. And it is big, believe me and my legs.
We washed the motor home today - I think I'll call her Betsey - and it
looked beautiful bright and brand new again. Our tanks are empty,
our sleep good, the steering works, and the route is easy, flat, and
generally sunny, blue skies and light clouds to provide some much
appreciated shade. So onward and downward to Key West.
Here is the stumper of the day. If the earth is round, which I
guess we mostly accept although there are some who do not, and the equator
is the middle, am I not going up hill since I am riding toward the
equator? It has to be that or it isn't round. This means when
I am going down hill according to my yellow inclinometer and legs, I am
actually going up hill. So I am doing two things at the same time
and in the same place and they are quite opposed to each other. Up
and down simultaneouslyl.
You can see now what happens when you ride in the North Carolina Sun
for a few days. There is lots of time to think about things both
big, small and silly and serious.
If there are typo's tonight please tell me as I am now going to watch
Cold Case. Goodbye to you, until we meet again.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Another good productive day. Dan and Colleen of Moka Joe's
drove down from Jacksonville, NC to join me for a ride in
Wilmington. Together we visited three stores and walked a couple of
blocks in in the Wilmington River Fest, Downtown Wilmington. Our KOA
is booked solid Friday to Sunday night, which is pretty good this time of
year and tells you how popular River Fest is.
Our Ride for Independent Coffee Houses T-shirts are in and they look
great. Together with the flyer it
makes it much easier to introduce the trip and its purpose. Both
help conversation. Dan plans to hang the T-shirt in his store and
He and Colleen joining me today is a kind of validation of the ride and
Surprise. While riding in mid town Wilmington, I think it was
Grace and 12th, we rode past a news crew filming a spot for the television
stations broadcast. I handed a fllyer to the lady, and asked them if
they knew how to get to Folks, a Coffee House we were looking for.
They gave us directions and asked to film us.
The lady asked some tough questions, like What's your Name? In
addition to answering that one correctly we got into the purpose of the
ride, including the issue of Exclusives granted to the Giant Starbucks,
although we did not discuss the Wilmington Mall. I'm hoping that the
piece gets on the air, and that I did not look sweaty and smudged;
actually, I was sweaty and smudged. Today especially since I had a
slight chain problem and proceeded to get black stuff on hands and legs
and I guess on my forehead as Cathy thought I had a bump or
something. So I know it is a news worthy topic now from an outside
source. I knew already that it was. This trip is an effort to
show how entrepreneurs like Dan and Colleen, and the owners of The
Connection Internet Cafe take on the giants and become Davids to the
The River fest on the water front was crowded. It was difficult
to walk our bikes in the crowd and I was happy to have two short blocks to
get to the Coffee Dog in The Cotton Exchange, where we met several
customers and Paula Giglio, a Yoga Teacher and part time expert
Barista. She was able, on film, to explain her Yoga while whipping
up a cappuccino with whipped cream. It looked great and you can see
it here Coffee Dog
on youtube.com. A customer asked her to explain what she does and I
asked to film the answer. It is very unusual for people to do this,
jump right into a presentation and be filmed. At the end of the
explanation she punctuates with a shout to the store "mocha
frappuccino whipped'. Its really good and entertaining, which is
good retailing and good service and the reason you want always to face the
audience. Dance if you like.
If you can, think about presentations like this and practice them in
the store in front of customers. Then you will be prepared to take
advantage of opportunities when they arise. Try hard to never say no
to a newsperson. Today, all three of us simply went on camera and
did what came naturally. I've told the story to others, so all I did
was tell it to the reporter and tried to ignore and did not look into the
camera. It helped to have a really good reason to sweat. I've
been on camera, or, on the spot, and began to sweat without a good
reason, unless stage fright is a good reason. Since I play and sing
Irish Music and Bluegrass I've had chances to get on stage in the last
year or so. At first, in Albert Hall's shed, it was tough.
Cotton mouth and sweat. But now its ok. So don't worry, it
happens to every one, even Barbara Streisand, I'm told.
Brother Paul called
later in the day and we just connected. He raised his couch up a few
inches and it makes it much easier for him to get back in his chair.
But he had real insight as a result of this change.
Paul is a movie buff - he has thousands. He said his experience
from the higher perspective of the raised couch was similar to the
experience of the students in Dead Poet's Society when the students were
asked to stand on their desks and view the world around them from that
perspective. Perhaps getting into another persons shoes, or at least
trying to do so, without hurting them please, would help us all.
This trip is a big help for me to re-connect with customers and lots of
folks who are not customers of ours. What I see and hear gives me a
fresh view of the coffee business. Can you believe that there are 30
or more Starbucks in Reno? Dan related a story about a friend of
Carl Starb's who started a store and then had a Starbucks open across the
street and kapow. That story is sad as we are finding out that there
are many ways to compete with the Giants successfully. Just be
prepared for a fight. And it sure makes this trip worthwhile.
If it were history perhaps Carl's friend would still be slugging it out
with the Giants, so to speak.
Please remember, above all, listen to your customers and give them what
they want - smiles, fast service and good coffee and drinks. Or if
they want something different, give it to them. The secret to sales
is simple. Give people what they want.
So the TV thing was a good and big surprise. Now if we can
come up with a way to get this kind of coverage before we get to town, it
would be great. Perhaps we'd get some more folks to join the ride.
Dan and Colleen road a tandem bicycle, and Colleen is a natural
leader. She chose the route and navigated. And when you
combine their tandem bicycle with my recumbent it makes for an interesting
combination and people look, so, Thank you Al and Ric for the T-shirts and
And thank you KOA for serving Toll House Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Bars. Oh my God they are good. And I'm not the only one who
treats themselves after a long ride, although 26 miles is beginning to
look a little shorter.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Coffee, People, Office
We visited two coffee stores today in Jacksonville,
NC. Good People. I'm really excited because the owner of one
is going to ride with his wife on a Ride for Independents segment in
Wilmington, NC tomorrow. I'm looking forward to this immensely as it
is the first and may lead to more.
Ricci Knowles is a motor cross participant and he and
his wife were doing a charity event near Mountain Mudd Espresso.
They saw the Phoenix Cruiser and fell in love with it. He works on
the bikes but not sure if he rides too.
I wanted to complain about a fleecing I got today, but I'm following
the rule of positive writing.
Dave Glover is the manager of the Camp Creek Campground in
Jacksonville. He's retired from the Air Force and is a member of the
Camp Work Program. It is a web site where people can post a resume
and camp grounds make job offers to them. Normally they receive free
rent and a salary and there are lots of people participating. We
could use one of them tonight in the Wilminton KOA because the electric
keeps failing on the entire row of sites we are in, and it is normal NC
weather. Hot and Mugeeeee.
The ride today was excellent again. The route took me through
Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps Training Center. There are signs
along the highway alerting you training exercises should they be in
motion. I smelled what I though was burning rubber today during this
segment but I wondered if it was gun powder.
Speaking of aroma's. At my level on a recumbent, my head is just
about level with the top of big truck tires and I have noticed how many
have brakes that I can actually smell as they go by. i guress they
are pretty close and they move pretty fast to have to be burning brakes on
And speaking of flats, not that kind, but the good ones. Flat
land. I'm riding what must be the great coastal plain of the eastern
north American continent. The biggest rise is the bridge over the
New River. Its a nice river and beautiful view and runs past or
through Camp Lejeune. I have a good friend who I worked with in the
banking industry for many years that was a drill instructor here. He
told a lot of funny stories. His name is Don Juhl and he latter
became the founder of a credit reporting agency that he eventually sold
for many many coins. I hope he reads this and get in touch. Or
I will have to call him. We last had dinner at the Blue Mountain Inn
in Woodstock probably 8 years ago.
So I had several thoughts. One about the young men and
women who train at Lejeune and then go off to war. The other was
about the future of the eastern coastal plain.
In my twenties, I faced the draft but was fortunate to not get drafted
as every one was cannon fodder headed to Vietnam. All of you my age
remember the nation at that time was in Love with Lyndon Johnson and
Richard Nixon and company. Johnson decided to give up the presidency
and not run for reelection. Nixon resigned during the Watergate
episode. But he was not thought well of by many people, even though
he did a great job with China, or at least we think that now.
On the side of the road yesterday there was a boot, not an Army boot,
but a recreational boot, laying on its side. It struck me then and
it strikes me now when I think of it as very lonely, and I wondered and
wonder what happened to the man or woman who owned it. I'm sorry I
did not take a picture, but I hope you can see it through my eyes.
Today we have young folks, and not so young folks fighting for us in
Iraq. It just doesn't seem fair to me that a few take care of the
many. Sure these folks, many anyway, volunteered, for each their own
reasons. And for sure, most of my generation was happy not to
serve in Vietnam. My best friend Jack Burke got very lucky at that
time. He enlisted instead of getting drafted and was assigned to
Germay for his entire tour. He was married to Patti, and still is,
and living in Buffalo, NY and retired and serving the country by driving
young kids to and from school and sporting events. It is not an easy
job, but it has benefits. If the demographics of the armed forces
reflected the demographics of the nation as a whole, perhaps it would be
more fair and equitable. But it does not reflect the demographics of
the nation. So I was thinking about all these volunteers slogging
around in the swamps and woods in Lejeune, crawling in the night along the
ground and coming fact to face with one of these snakes I find dead along
the road (orange with black stripes). Or swimming the New River in
full battle gear. While I would not do my life in any different way,
and i regret almost none of it, I feel today for the recuits something I
did not feel back then. Then it was relief I was not over
there. Today it is empathy with the loneliness these men and women
must feel waling the streets of a foreign land, knowing that there are
people with deadly weapons actively trying to slay them. We are
alone at the end.
God speed warriors. I hope and trust that our leaders are doing
all they can to equip you and your comrades with the materials you need to
survive and prosper in the future. Call us if you are looking for
employment when you return.
The Eastern Coastal Plain I guess, if you believe the ice is melting
and seas will rise, which I do. It just seems inevitable. We
were in the aquarium in Virginia Beach and they have a canyon about a mile
below the surface somewhere off the coast. I can't remember its
name, but that is not important. What is important is that that
canyon was formed by river run off which means that it was sea level
at one point. Sea level now one mile below the sea level. And
we are worried about three feet? Sp I guess a few hundred years from
now Renegade Tobacco in Holly Ridge, NC will not be in business selling
cigarettes to old men who should know better. Or water to a thirsty
biker. I asked the clerk how far going south was the next town, and
she said "South? Anyway, about 35 minute drive". Not
all of us think of space in terms of distance. This lady thought of
space as time. And in a few hundred years so will have to worry
about training at camp Lejeune or working at Holly Ridge, they won't be
So my daughter Jennifer I was thinking it would be a good Cold Case to
move two hundred years into the future, and come back to a case in the
distance past, 2007. What happened to men and women who wore those
There were a lot of pine trees today, a lot more than the Pinelands,
where I live most of the time.
And hey, Cathy and I are learning to live in a place that is at most
eight feet wide and 18 feet long, not counting the engine or storage in
the rear. 8 by 18, with two bed, a full bath and kitchen and
Dog. I'd say it more luxury than Steinbeck enjoyed, but it is
new. Cathy is keeping the place organized and we both are pretty
good at putting away what we take out. You simply have to or clutter
claustrophobia sets in fast.
We occasionally use the picnic tables as a dining room or kitchen, but
only on cooler, dryer days. And there are not enough of them.
My arms, from the elbow south, legs from three inches above the knee,
going south to my ankles and my face not counting the chin strap from my
helmet, are getting tan. Very tan. And I'm sure I'm still
giving up some of the body I worked so hard to build. The last ten
times I lost weight I actually knew I was losing it so I could gain it
back, it is so much fun gaining it back. I'll bet a lot of people do
the same thing. Lose it gain it. But I've tried to stop
using Pepcid AC, which is a sure fire in the belly way to stop eating
So banana's, apples, peanut butter and jelly, and bagels and muffins at
coffee stores and Cathy's good cooking for dinner, are the new
regimen. And of course, my dailyl dose of ice cream, which is now a
bar or toll house sandwich, and not a pint or two.
Terry, your tip that WaWa had a new flavor, mint moose tracks was a
good tip. I had many thereafter but will leave the rest for your
husband. And thankfully there are no WaWa's
down here. Besides stopping pepcid ac or your favorite belly
ache medicine, stopping any visits to WaWa are another sure way to fast
weight loss and a better healthier life.
Just don't go.
Thursday October 4, 2007
People, Honkers, John
Meyers, Thumbs Up, Travels
With Charlie, Coffee Houses Today
Elated. Best all day road yet, downwind, smooth surface, and
construction with the roadway in place but no traffic. It ran
parallel and is the new 17 South and the state is landscaping. I
thought I'd only have a 20 mile day, so I decided to run flat out, a
waitress serving BOTH Cathy and I said my legs were Slam Out which is I
guess a local term. Had to ask her what she meant as I was thinking
nice legs. But no, she meant your legs must be exhausted, and they
were. This took place at a Pizza Inn, which we have never
seen. Its a pizza buffet and salad bar. Dinner was $6.59 each,
and the lettuce was shredded small, which I love. A bargain and good
So continuing the ride, flat out means as fast as I could go for the
day. It ended up 30 miles as the camp tonight was south of
Jacksonville, NC and south of Camp Lejeune, yup that one. I did it
in 1:58, thats one hour and 58 minutes, which is a tad over 15 mph.
For me, now, this is phenominal. Many minutes of this day I was
moving at 18 to 21 on flat ground on the second ring in front and the 9th,
smallest, in the rear.
I switched a one point to the big ring up front, but decided I was
better on the middle one. Now this is not a race, and if I don't get
to Key West, I don't get to key west, but I thought I'd try it out for
size. Absolutely perfect conditions so I know the Road God is
watching out for me. Someone is for sure.
In the southern states so far it is common to see homes along even
major highways with a porch, with rockers and couches, thick, full deep
couches on the porches. And sometimes there are people sitting out
there. I'm guessing that these folks may not have air
conditioning. The result is staying in contact with other people and
what is going on in the neighborhood. Today one group of two elderly
porch people seemed a bit incredulous, but when they see my smile, they
light, and in this case, they lit up and waved. Since I was moving
very fast today, by the time I heard the 'be careful' all I could do was
put the thumb up in the universal statement of "A OK".
The second group was on the left and further back from the road so I
had a better longer term view and so did they. I heard the Be
Careful This is A Dangerous Road warning. Again all I could do was
flash the thumb up.
I would love to stop and talk for a while and I probably will, in fact,
I will at the next opportunity. Since tomorrow is Friday I bet there
will be more porch people.
Not only did the porch people warrant a thumbs up, but the almost
miraculous took place today. A truck stopped dead in its tracks
Behind Me. Before he passed he stopped dead. Dead Stop.
This was so unusual, and so good of him, I stopped too and moved off the
road to make it easier for him to pass. Which he did very
slowly. He was carrying a big big dirt mover with tracks that hung
probably 2 feet off both sides making this truck one very wide truck, that
had he not stopped, I would have been stopped involuntarily. But
who's complaining. Thank you Mr. Truck Driver.
Another thumbs up went to two cars on 17 who honked and waved obvious
'wish I with you' waves. Thumbs up.
Today I began to realize how lucky I am to be doing this ride. I have a
purpose which is in line to needs of coffee houses today. They are
swimming with the alligators (Giant Ones at That) as we used to say
meaning dangerous waters. In the case of coffee houses it takes
courage and love of the business and a love for adventure to sally forth
amongst giants. I have my health, which is a topic I am tired of
talking about already and I'm only out of the office a couple of
months. Retired people or people over 60 talk about their health all
the time and it is bothersome. I'm having trouble keeping track of
all the pills I take already, and I'm trying, by riding, to get rid of a
couple, like blood sugar pills. I know this will happen because I'm
losing weight and eating better and will be doing so for a couple of
months. But I'm still eating daily ice cream. Just ice cream
bars instead of wawa pints of Cherry with Chocolate Chunks. Oh I
passed through Chocowinity today too. Janice at Green acres
pronounced that so sweetly I was really looking forward to the town, but
it was gone before I knew it was there. I have the best Wife in the
World who is what is known as "sag wagoning" this ride, i.e.,
she is supporting the rider with food, water and transportation when
needed and for that matter some time when it is not needed. But the
peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat is there always when I need
it. I have the resources to do this ride. The motor home, the
bike, the camera, the computer, the dog, the dog training, the
inclinometer, the speedometer, this web site, flyers now, and t-shirts
tomorrow, and new parts for the bike like tubes, tires and wheels just in
case. I have the good fortune to have talented people running Kaffe
Magnum Opus and following up on leads that do come up on this ride, and
creating a new look and feel for the company while producing a couple of
very large orders for the Christmas Season. I have a brother who is
watching out for me. Paul, that is. I have two children who
are self sufficient and don't need dad around all the time serving up
advice and opinions opinions opinions. I have a dog.
Who can ask for anything more. As the tune goes.
This was by the Alligator River in Pollackville.
This is where John Meyers and I met. He is a bike which I knew
because he rode up on bike, had helmet on, knew what the Route 17 was like
between here and Jacksonville, and was a good person. So good he
asked me if he could ask me a question. I of course being of good
will answered in the affirmative. He asked If I was Christian, I
answered I was raised in the Catholic Church. He asked if I was
saved, and I answered that my son had me going once in a while to the
Lighthouse Church in Cape May Court House and that it was a very good
bible church with Pastor Rudy, another good man. The he asked if I
believed in the holy trinity, and I answered in the affirmative. I
can't ever remembering this happening to me anywhere else. It was
not at all objectionable, and John Meyers was a helpful, clearly loving
person, who had a mission about which I have no objections. But I
was surprised. Now mind you this took place at the Alligator River
and I began to wonder if I was pushing my luck, but I still rode on down
the road. John Meyers is a good person doing what he strongly
believes in and he is doing it with passion but not pushy like we get in
Brooklyn. In fact, it made me feel good that he wanted me to join
him in his work. He is a good person.
I mentioned this to my brother Paul who called earlier,
christmas, much earlier so I know I have to terminate this session.
He said he and a friend Andy Crotty who has also live life in a wheel
chair, and is now a lawyer and could be a doctor he is so smart, were in
the park one day and were approached by a young lady from whom they
anxiously waited a word. And out it came the Word and the question,
Are You Saved. Paul and Andy had just spoken about this and so
enjoyed an insiders laugh, not at all disrespectful. Then the girl
dropped her business card, and Paul, good soul that he is, bent over from
his chair, and picked up the card. While he was doing this, Andy
began to laugh uncontrollably. Why you ask? While Paul was
bent over the girl covered him with her shawl and blessed him, without his
knowledge or agreement. Now she was born in Brooklyn along with me
Frezzetta, who I met earlier today.
I'm re-reading Travels With Charlie, by John
Steinbeck. He took a three month trip with his dog Charlie around
the United States of America in a 1962 truck upon which he had the
manufacturer build a cabin. I guess there were not many motor homes
to select from back then. Nor roads. But there were
people. He gets philosophical here and there and insightful too. He
suggested that the US was losing its regional cultures, this in 1962 (he
died in 1967). I never thought about it in quite this way, but today
of the ten people I spoke with, only one had the North Carolina accent you
would expect to hear in North Carolina. Everyone else, the lady at
the KOA, Mike at the Wilmington KOA, the servers at Annabelle's where we
had lunch, the server at the UPS store where I had printed the new flyer
that you can download and print from the hyperlink flyer, or Here.
Please download the flyer and
send it to as many people as you can, like you e-mail list.
Just attach it to your outbound e-mail. Ric Principato, the designer
for Kaffe Magnum Opus did a very good job and succinctly wrote what this
ride is all about.
There were two today, both successful in their own
right. Java Junction in a Mall Kiost, and owned by the
aforementioned Steve Frezzetta, and Trent River Coffee Company, owned by
Ed has a friend and fellow musician, Jerry Scott.
Jerry it turns out was the brother in law of John Stockton, a banjo player
who played with John Duffy and Hank Walters years ago. If I remember
correctly it was in Wheaton, MD and it was every Sunday and it was Gospel.
Ed has also had John Edwards speak at his establishment,
and, Harvey Ghant, who was running against Jesse Helms, which was not a
good idea - that is - running against Jesse Helms. So we were
standing on some hallowed ground in the presence of some pretty
Hallowed ground that is. Yesterday one of the ladies
from Connecticut saw my kickstand in a "holler' she said, and I
immediately thought she was from Virginia, where the folks have been good
enough to teach me how to pronounce hollow - the correct pronunciation is
'holler'. Which is a strang word coming from a retired Connecticut
lady. Steinbeck said unequivocally that the US would be homogenized
in time. He was right.
Good night all. See you tomorrow on the road to
Wilmington after we visit some coffee stores in Jacksonville, North
Oh, and Jerry Scott said the first song he learned was
"Using my Bible for A Roadmap", and I knew the tune. I'm
feeling elated today. Part of the fabric.
Wednesday October 3, 2007"
Oh my God what a day with roads and trucks, all kind of trucks,
logging, sand, empty logging, pick ups, SUV's with telephones.
Imagine it, and I had it in spades. 17 got narrower as I got closer
to New Bern, and narrower. So at least 5 times I intentionally road
off the road to avoid catastrophe. Two trucks one northbound and the
other south, and I, were going to share road at the same point. No
way Jose and off I went.
Another was carrying large 6 x 6 blocks I'd say six feet to eight feet
long on a rack under the trailer. One of them slid to the right and
was riding about four feet beyond the truck. I am not kidding.
It was my lucky day since I had turned into a side road to take care of
business, and this guy pulled in behind me. As it turns out Cathy
thought I was behind her, but I was a head of her. She was trying to
catch the truck to tell him but could not go fast enough. They go
easy 70 and more.
If you are thinking what is this guy doing on this road, I had the same
thought. But it looks like it is still my best bet. The
problem is I can't tell from Goggle Earth the size of the
Today was 36 miles and the KOA entrance was right on 17, so no extra
miles to get there. .No problem really, x the concentration it took
to remain healthy. This is not a road nor ride for new riders.
I believe 17 gets better as I go, but I'm worried about Georgia. I'm
told the bridges don't' exactly match the roads so you get to jump up or
EZ Racers Buck Cenbejas and a few thoughts
about coffee and Business
Good job Buck. He has just now put in the mail for me:
1 front and 1 rear tire
3 tubes for each tire
1 front wheel and 1 rear wheel with the chain rings installed.
I don't like to even think about these things as if you believe The
Secret, it may then happen. They claim I believe 'if you think it it
will happen'. And in a round about way I agree with them. In
business I have always been able to visualize the way things will shape
up, what the plant will look like, how we can approach certain customers
and the day to day systems. Basically I have a good imagination.
And I do believe if you see it it will happen. When? Who
knows. So I too believe for our company and for yours, if you
see or can picture in your mind what you want, how you want it done, when
you want it, it will happen. I am not a positive thinking advocate,
nor do I jump on stage to preach this stuff. But virtually all my
life in virtually everything I've done, my imagination has helped shape
This is not say that I can see the future. There are unforeseen
things that interrupt the best life. I know this first hand as both
one of my brothers and mother died accidentally about six months apart,
and then a sister at age 21 died of cancer. Nothing is cast in
stone, of course this does not include the Parthenon which is cast in
stone. But someone saw that building, drew it in their mind, then
communicated it and built it..
So Buck, while the bike is now cast in stone and holding up nicely, one
Which is another thing I always do in business. I back myself
up. I give myself options. I try to be flexible in all
strategic arena's. When I realized I was better and liked more being
able to help business people succeed in what they do, I switch from
retailing to roasting for retailers. Retailing is a great business
with many advantages and I enjoyed immensely standing at an espresso
machine and banging out drink after drink and entertaining our
customers. What a great place and way to sell. Talk to
customers as you make the drinks.
I don't like nor recommend the manner in which Starbucks 'produces'
drinks. Their people are really production people behind the machine
and the counter. I urge you to put your espresso machine on
the front counter, always facing the audience and talk to the audience
as you whistle while you work. No doubt this will increase
Anyhow, I was hoping EZ Racers would offer to sponsor this ride and
pick up a bit of the tab for the parts, which cost $505 plus
shipping. But I did not push it nor suggest it. I appreciate
very much that Buck is getting the parts out today for delivery tomorrow
so I can keep moving. Tomorrow is Jacksonville, North Carolina and
another 40 odd miles on Route 17.
This route is now taking us further out into the Ocean, further East I
think then my home. The weather changes quickly, but despite some
sprinkles today, it is sunny now, and the ride was basically dry.
I am however changing colors.
latter today I'll share my thoughts on the bike in the bike section of
this site. It really is a great bike, and it sells itself to boomers
who never trained early. No one likes a sore backside nor sore neck
and the EZ racer really plays Dr. Kildare in re these two thorny
problems for bikers. They go away. After 50 miles a bit of a
sweat it does pay to change clothing if y you continue to ride. But
the bike solves the problems that come from an upright. Its
surprising to me that more people don't ride recumbent. .
Two ladies traveling in a monster motor home and kayaking stopped as I
was preparing this morning to get underway. They had what I thought
looked like mountain bikes. One choose to sit on the EZ Racer and
I'm sure it sold her. I did not encourage a test ride as if anything
went wrong it would louse up my timing. I couldn't take the risk.
Band every works in the KOA office. She is a 'camp worker', which
sounds like a job from WWII. It is not. She is a nomad, moving
from place to place working at KOA campgrounds. Nomad is good and
Beverly is in high demand to work at KOA's around the country. She
is 79 and doesn't look a year over 65. She said her genes are good
and she uses moisturizer every day.
Mr. Braxton. I am not sure of the gentleman's name but it appears
on the country store just north of Vanceboro, NC on Route 17. Nice
man. He asked what I was doing then asked how old I was and then
told me to be careful on this road. "It's
dangerous". There was another customer in his store, a much
younger guy and I think a plumber. His head was resting on his truck
as he was filling his tank with petrol, so I thought he was not feeling so
good, or perhaps poorly. But he changed in the store. He too
thought 17 was a dangerous road so I told him I thought someone was
watching over me and he replied "that's for sure'.
Braxton is married fifty years and when he commented on the length of
my ride, I suggested his road was a lot longer and tougher. He
Server at the Cow Cafe in downtown New Bern. I am quite certain
he is a senior citizen and I find it a 'shame' for lack of a better word
that seniors must work in their retirement years. If like Beverly
they do it because they like it and are having fun, she said she would
stop as soon as it was not fun, fine. But I am beginning to believe
that this is a cover story for lousy retirement plans, and the lack of
savings. And, the run up in housing, food, insurance, health costs,
and New Jersey Taxes sure doesn't help.
This morning the two retired ladies next to our camp at Tranters resort
visited and inquired about The Bike. One sat for a while to get a
feel. Both of them related the litany of folks they had to take care
of the past three years and how it delayed their retirement plans.
But they have really pitched in. Mothers are moving to assisted
living and they are selling the mothers home, sisters with breast cancer
needed hospice help, and old friends having surgery needed friends to get
them through recovery. These ladies did it all.
Cathy is taking care of her mother with two of her sisters in Somers
Point after moving Mae from Coeur d Lain Idaho three years ago because it
was obvious she would need help. Cathy is very good to her mother
and Mae relies on Cathy for financial and personal help. Her mother
raised sever children in a small home while working full time at several
manufacturing jobs. At Wheaton she became a shop steward, and I can
see how as she is a strong willed and thoughtful person. Now however
she is beginning to lose some of her memories although I think it is not
true and only a cover story so she can cut off conversation when she wants
The kayaking ladies of Tranters Resort sold their home in Connecticut,
and then sold their mothers home in New Milford. Both of these homes
probably brought in a fair sum. They purchased a motor home and they
are planning a two year circuit of the US. Today they are on
their way to Florida where they expect to pick up an Allegro Phaeton,
which is a diesel powered 40 or more foot long vehicle. They are
delighted that the storage compartments will open like kitchen cabinets
and save their knees and backs, which I relate to. And the new ones
have sliding trays for still easier access. But the list is
$240,000. And behind it they pull a car, and kayaks, and bikes, and
all the toys one person could want, or need.
But the point
is they sold their home and now must make certain they invest wisely so
that when they purchase another they are not shut out of the market (fat
chance this year and next).
I wish them well and began to think of
It kills me to be on the road and leave a
perfectly nice house alone. But my son and our friend are taking
good care of it. And the grass is being cut and the leaves blown
away. But who will play my guitars? Guitars get better with
age provided you play them. My Martin HD28-LVS I carry with me
always and play it regularly and the fullness of the sound is very
good. Techla, a professional performer with several CD's out told me
at the last festival we attended to take good care of it since she thought
it had a unique sound. She is not the first person to say this, so I
think I got lucky and too that I play it a lot and this helps it mature.
who will play my other guitars. They are lonely.
Let us all pray
that Route 17 grows a shoulder overnight.
Tuesday October 2, 2007
Today was an easy ride, but unproductive in terms of coffee
houses. We found two in Washington, a city named after George
Washington, but both were closed. We visited Goose Creek State Park
and it was beautiful. Signs warned of occasional bear
sightings and copperheads. I guess its not so unusual, we have them
in the Pine Barrens at home.
17 between Williamston and Washington is terrible. The surface is
fine, but the shoulder is scalloped and so not useable for bike
riding. Which left the road.
This is Beaufort County and I wondered if it was the county
Jackie Gleason and Burt Reynolds had so much fun riding around the back
roads. I actually passed a sheriff's car but did not have the
courage to ask.
Weather is moving in and I'm not sure how much I'll be able to
ride. But the next few days distances are not all that great.
I plan to be in Willington by Friday. Then Myrtle Beach and on to
Cathy and I were doing some planning today and figured if we go the
east coast of Florida its about 1000 miles to Key West. MapPoint
says 992, using route 95, so we are probably looking at over 1000.
With 29 days left in October and 10 in November at best I have 39
days. This is doable, but the weather has to stay good and my
endurance get better. There will be rain outs and rest days so I've
really got to keep it over 40 miles per day. (This is true of
retailing coffee too. Endurance and the ability to stay the course,
i.e. staying power, are essential elements.)
If the number is 1100 then at 40 miles we need 28 days to do it.
I am determined to do it. The only thing I'd accept as a barrier is
to meet more excellent coffee houses. This takes time.
The local police were conducting a sobriety check, in the form of
license checks tonight. Good. They need this around
here. Our greeter at Tranters Camping Resort told us they have a
security problem, not a good way to start the night. But we were out
of options. I heard from Louis Calvello at Richard Rubenstein's
office today in re getting some publicity, and he is to get back with a
cost benefit option. This is good.
I had some comments today about Go Lassie Go, a song I have on Youtube.
If you click the link you can hear it. There are now 1556 views
which is much higher than expected. A tribute to Tommy
Makem is not far behind given it has a lot shorter time on the
I'm anxious to get the shirts and handout material. We also
opened two more sites www.rideforindependentcoffeehouses.com
but we did not publish to them today. The question is which is more
memorable. Thanks to Fran Napoli.
Monday October 1, 2007
It felt like Monday this morning. I ate at the Hampton Inn,
typical fare, muffins and Danish and coffee. This is not good for a
ride. Cathy made eggs too but the sugar got to me after awhile, so
of course I had to have some more at Jitterz
and at Acoustic
Music. Soon all of our friends in the coffee business will have
to have more than sweets.
And I weighed myself this morning. Down 16 pounds since starting
in Saugerties, NY.
Before I started today, and I knew I was looking at a 70
mile day, I had read a bit of Travels With Charlie and it struck me
how very different the USA is compared to Steinbeck's trip. Where he
had a truck manufacturer make special a 'house' for him, today we
routinely buy and sell motor homes. He traveled single lane highways
and here I am riding a recumbent bike on four lane highways with cars and
trucks zooming by. I am struck in NC though by their behavior.
99% of the time the vehicles move to the left to give me a wide
birth. Thank you North Carolina.
Today I stopped around 50 miles and changed my shoes. A gentleman
in a pickup stopped and asked if I had everything I needed to repair the
bike. When it does happen I hope the same person stops. Is
that not nice? And Welcome by me.
And, standing in the parking lot of the Hampton Inn I looked up to the
white moon, and there were two large jets going by it and the jets were
moving at roughly the same speed. One was much higher with the vapor
trail, the other lower without a trail. I was born in 1945, just
after the WWII, and I am sorry I'm missing the Burns documentary of the
war, when there were few planes, none going across the country, and Ike
had not started the interstate system, since he was still in Europe
putting the finishing touches on the peace. So in my lifetime there
has been enormous advances by us humans. My iphone is one and this
web site is another, and my ride is yet another. I've been to
bicycle museums and the bikes of yore had no chance of doing this.
I am hoping someone out there will get a hold of EZ Racers and have
them send me some spare tires, tubes and a front wheel and rear wheel with
sprockets. Just in cases. Like Gump I might just keep
going. It is a lot of fun, good hard work, and I am meeting people
and reconnecting the business I love so well.
I'm becoming a bit 'conflicted' by the movement to small farms and in
is this area the trend to have coffee bars, without flavored coffees, and
whole bean sales. Many stores are using syrups to flavor the coffee.
This was true of stores in shopping centers that also contained food
stores. Someone is giving poor business advice.
It may be great 'coffee' advice, but not good business. I
fear a product orientation has taken over the SCAA and the Roasters Guild
is for sure product oriented. Let us all not lose sight that we are
in the business of selling great coffee. It's a business and one
must give people what they want. Even if it goes against the grain
of a Coffee Roaster who is dedicated to Organic Fair Trade. Which I
am, but not to exclusion of good business sense.
Now here comes the my heresy. You don't have to know coffee
inside out, nor know how to make a cappuccino with stars on top (stars???
could Starbucks have started this decorating) in order to be successful at
this business of ours.
I'm also wondering why we as an industry are so focused on getting
'appropriate' wages to farmers, which I too favor, and not so concerned
about the long term effect. I was struck today watching cotton
harvests and seeing that there were no people involved other than machine
drivers. No one in the fields picking cotton. No one in the
fields picking cotton. Is this good or bad? I don't really
care which, it is a fact, as the bankers say, a fait acompli.
Money helps Innovation and invention which lead to efficient
operation. US money heading south of the border is in the long run
going to be concentrated and when it is concentrated it will lead to lower
Will Starbucks and the others, some small roasters too, that own farms
in south and central America accept low efficiency for long? What
happens when there is a squeeze in this business, as there is now for
Starbucks, rising milk costs and lower stock prices (I'm told as I don't
watch their stock) lead to a demand on the top staff to raise earnings in
other ways. Downsize. Pick more per person. In the end,
it will be like cotton. It will.
I'd love to see them buy some milk farms in this or another country and
improve the lot of some milk cows. And chickens. I've seen
tons of chicken farms and seen how they are trucked. I'd not step
foot into a chicken 'hen' house. I remember my fathers Aunt Muriel
in Connecticut had chickens in her barn and we'd go get fresh eggs in the
morning. Those chickens were happy.
What does this mean for coffee?
First, I'd say to the independent coffee houses: Be
independent. Be different. If Starbucks does this, then you do
that. You and I can't out starbuck Starbucks. But for sure we
can beat them in this wonderful field of ours.
I'm concerned for our independent health for every Starbuck's that
opens is one less local store that keeps in contact with local people and
pours money, brain power, and culture into the community.
So I too think as I ride along these incredible roads into some
magnificent towns, that it is time to fight the giants and if you are
going to fight the giants we might as well try to beat them.
This is America. One of my purposes on this ride is to uncover
how. But time is of the essence.
I remember my reaction to Ted Lingle when Dunkin Donuts sponsored the
Boston SCAA conference. What? said I. They are not a specialty
coffee house. But they took from the SCAA and us members
a piece of our reputations and transferred to themselves. They were
blessed by us. Are they not now beating our brains out with store
Dunkin Donuts sponsored a convention and supplied a President of the
Board of SCAA. They have money and for sure the SCAA needs
money. But will a convenience
store be next. Why should we coffee professionals share our
reputation and let a competitor with lots of money, energy, drive and
manpower add to its brand the SCAA reputation.
in Edenton runs a terrific operation. Starbucks is on its way to
Edenton and in lots of small areas along my route. They will hurt
Acoustic Coffee, despite what their customers say. I was struck by
Mary's reaction at Blue Crab to her 'loyal' customers switching to a new
competitor and sitting on the veranda drinking the competitors
coffee. I'd say the reaction was a bit stunned. And rightly
so. The competitor had come in, saying nice things, and customers
told her they would stick with them, but they did not. This will
happen in Edenton. Starbucks will be in the supermarket and will
In the town in which I live there are now Starbucks. They have a
primo site in the Cumberland Mall and they do very well. But in
Vineland? Many many years ago I had a store in the same mall, and I
can not tell you how disappointed I'd be, and poorer, if I still had it,
which I don't since I am now strictly a wholesale roaster supporting the
retailer. There is a Gloria Jeans in the Mall. Good Luck.d
In the end, we are in this business to make a living. And if
sales go down, 10, 20or even 40%, will this living still be worth the
effort we put into our businesses?
What a day. Cool, dry, tail wind yet again, mostly flat terrain,
but some long rolling hills outside of Edonton and over to
Williamston. (notice that these towns drop the W in town - in NY or
NJ it would be Edontown, or Williamstown). A few nasty narrow high
speed high truck traffic sections of Route 17, but I'm beginning to get
back my riding ability.
The first 25 were a dream. I started earlier, 9:15 and the
morning sun made the colors very nice and a lot different than the
afternoon sun. I heard there were alligators in some of the swamps
and that a big one had walked across the highway around Hertford.
This would not be good for the daydreaming biker.
With tougher terrain, but not bad, in the afternoon I worked harder but
I'm now able to do it.
When I got to the camp I felt great for about two minutes. Then I
was about ready to collapse, which I did. While Cathy cooked dinner
I watched the owners cover their swimming pools, and then fell asleep, Bob
Tomorrow we are to go to New Bern, which is another 60 odd mile
journey, and I'm not sure I can do it. But we will see how I feel in
After dinner I joined the owners in the lobby of their office building
and played some bluegrass for Janice. Janice is a terrific, Southern
Lady, who I think liked it. She is not a bluegrass fan, so I had
to do Irene Goodnight and Bill Bailey and a few gospel songs. It was
great fun for me to be playing grass in North Carolina. I darn near
called Leo and Shirley who host Monday night jams in New Jersey just to
talk to folks who play, but I ran out of time.