Friday, February 13, 2009

Lighthouse Cycling Tour Day 1

Michelob ULTRA Lighthouse Cycling Tour of Puerto Rico -- Day 1
151.1 miles -- Old San Juan to Ponce

Day 1: Leaving way before sunrise (6:00 am fast riders - 6:10 am group riders ... remember LIGHTS REQUIRED), we will ride east bound to Fajardo where a late morning breakfast (between 8:30-10:00 am) awaits right by the Seven Seas and Las Croabas beaches. This breakfast will give you a stunning view of the eastern horizon where it is not unlikely to see the Island of Culebra and St. Thomas with the naked eye. From there we will ride southbound towards Guayama, not before crossing over “Camino Nuevo”, considered the challenge of the day. Have your camera handy for the spectacular views from this 1000 foot hilltop. Before arriving Guayama, we will stop at the Punta Tuna Lighthouse (circa 1892) in Maunabo where lunch will be served and you will be able to get up close and personal with this great historic building. We will then symbolically pass by Arroyo's Lighthouse (out of view). After a quick hydration and snack stop in Guayama we will wind up the day riding into one of the the most historical towns of the south; the Ponce Town Core. Those lucky enough to have booked a room within one of the town core options will have a chance to walk around the beautiful Plaza and its surroundings wrapping up a long day.

Day 1 started off with a bang...actually a buzz. It was the alarm on my phone vibrating. A 5am wake-up call to begin a long day arduous day. The forecast called for an unbelievable 84 degrees with slight cloud cover and no wind. A perfect day for riding. Even better yet, a perfect day for pictures. But first things first: we need to know where we are going. I mean, we know WHERE we are going routewise, but what vehicles we were going to go in remained a mystery. We had a pickup truck, 2 EMS vehicles, several SAG Vans and a motorcycle. Lots of choices, but only one with the capability to document the race entirely: the motorcycle. Riders gathered, headlights were turned on and car horns beeped. We were off into the darkness of the morning. Nearly 300 riders, a pack of extremely fit and not so fit people, descending down San Juan's streets. It was a sight to be seen. And in case you didn't see it, here you go.

It's difficult for a hand cyclist in general, but when the rest of the peloton slows down, you must let Keane keep going. You don't slow down a hand cyclist, you let him keep going.

Today's Hero: The Police.
All around the island the tour had a police escort. You certainly couldn't do this tour in the states.

My favorite photo of the day.
This guy had an accident and was getting stitches.

Who wouldn't want to bike around this island?

This picture was the center of a full page spread in the main Puerto Rican newspaper on Sunday.

Though the police were providing a safety convoy around the island, hills will always providing a problem for the cyclists. A long uphill mountain breaks up the peloton and on a mountain like this, all hell breaks loose.

I'm proudest of this picture. It was taken from inside the lighthouse.

The mountain gets even the best of us.

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