Friday, February 13, 2009

Lighthouse Cycling Tour Day 2

Michelob ULTRA Lighthouse Cycling Tour of Puerto Rico -- Day 2
100 miles -- Ponce to Mayaguez

Day 2: At 7:00 am we depart Ponce to Yauco where breakfast once again awaits in a secret historical location, however, not before passing by Guayanilla, home of the Costa Sur, an oil-fired Steam-Electric Plant where a significant amount of electric power for the island is generated. After breakfast, we move on to the ruins of the Guanica Lighthouse near the Dry Forest area of Guanica. From this area we will head to Cabo Rojo passing by the plains of Lajas. Lunch will be served nearby in Cabo Rojo immediately after passing near the Cabo Rojo Lighthouse (within a mile). Later in the day, we will head to the Town of Mayaguez. Expect some heat and humidity in the Lajas-Cabo Rojo areas during noon followed by the omnipresent 2 pm showers in Mayaguez.

Ah, Day 2. Little sleep has been had by all, including me, and after staying up late into the night to get photos edited and sent to the press, our 100 mile journey was fast upon us. But first, a photo. It's early, very little light and I had just been informed that we wanted to get a group shot in front of the fire station. 300 riders, one flash and a crisp, clean photo? Uh...can we get a photographer over here? QUICKLY!!! Well, as you can imagine, my cry for help went unanswered, my throat swelled and my cotton mouth wasn't a choice but a necessity. This one shot would not prove to be my only obstacle of the day. Heat, wind, rain and a ditch would battle for supremacy for all things detrimental to my job in a day that quickly bequeathed legendary status on my involvement with the Lighthouse Cycling Tour.

"Pray, due tell KIP, what could have possibly happened?"

OK, well, for those of you who've known me long enough remember that last year when I cycled the tour, I took a nasty fall and Day 1 off the side of a mountain, falling into the guard rail, sliding across the metal while slicing open my jersey and my right tricep yet never injuring the bike...thank you very much. It required several stitches and a huge bandage, but I pressed on to the oasis for lunch and then another 60 miles to the hotel. I didn't come to Puerto Rico to stay cooped up in a hotel. That was Day 1. Now for Day 2 this year, I tried to out do myself. Remember that motorcycle that Luis was driving with me on the back? Yeah, we crashed it. Did I say crashed, I meant DESTROYED it.

It was early morning, I had just taken two of my favorite shots of the day, and before we knew it the roads had changed. If you've never been to Puerto Rico, you need to understand that though it's bright and sunny where you are, it might very well be raining 5 minutes down the road. That's exactly what happened to us...that, and a sharp turn. Only this time, it was raining, it had just rained -- that meant no one was expecting a slick road. A little water and the light dust and dirt of the island equalled disaster for Luis and I. One rider down, two riders down, everyone begins to slow, three riders down, four riders down...we were going to fast and we knew it before it happened. And then it happened: the wheel went out from underneath us, Luis tried to right the motorcycle, but it was no use. Either we were going down or...or...or...? Our best bet was going for the ditch, holding on to the turn was impossible. I don't know whether we had super hero powers and could read each others brains or we have very similar logical brains but, WE WENT FOR THE DITCH. Our luck lied in our ability to softly land the bike, brush ourselves off, count our blessings and be on our way. No such luck. The ditch proved too great and the shocks on the bike too feable. Our end was near and all I could think about was save the cameras. Anything could happen to me, but save the cameras. I grabbed both Canon 5D's, raised my arms and went for the ride of my life. Somehow, someway I rode the bike like a bull: 9 seconds! And then we crashed. Mirror gone, check. Bike completely scratched, check. Front wheel fork bent 45˚, check. The smell of spilt gasoline, check. Two saved cameras with fully intact rider and driver, SUPER check. We made it. I don't know how, but we did. Luis' wrist had to be wrapped the next day and my left knee was little bruised, but we had made it. In all 7 or 8 riders went down on that corner.

News travels fast and by the time we arrived at the 1st oasis for breakfast everyone had heard about the crash. "Are you alright? What happened? How are the cameras?" I heard this in repetition. Everyone who knew me from the year before said, "You crash a bike on Day 1 last year, destroy a motorcycle on Day 2 this year...don't get in a helicopter next year." Luckily if I come back in 2011, there isn't a Day 4 for me to crash.........................Well, that could mean my returning flight on Monday. :-o

The Parque de Bombas is a Puerto Rican building located at the town square of Ponce, known as Plaza Las Delicias, and directly behind Ponce Cathedral. The building housed the city's main fire station; its name comes from the mobile hand-pumped fire fighting units the building once housed. It has been heralded both for its historical and architectural roles in Puerto Rican society.

The best photo of the day. Good photographer?, just luck.

After last year's ride, I made sure I got this photo. Early morning of day two we biked thru one of the main Petroleum plants of Puerto Rico. The juxtaposition kills me.

Hello honey? Yeah, this might take me longer than I thought.

Though the shortest day on the tour, Day 2 had it's own set of peaks and valleys.

The tour provides an normal 15mph peloton and a faster self-guided group. And as luck would have it, both groups passed each other on an out and back.

Check out Keane's face grimacing on these hills.
(Click on the photo to enlarge it)

Not the best photo of the day, but certainly my favorite. Driving ahead in the pick up I noticed the two mountain bikers ahead in white dress shirts. Yep, you guessed it. I was a little kid in a candy store bouncing with anticipation the moment the peloton would swallow them

Ah...the oasis that is Puerto Rico.

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

The little towns of Puerto Rico. Such character and such beauty.

Should I call Lance now for a job?

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  1. "Kip, are you ok after your PR path of destruction? Nice pics...wish I went."

  2. nice pics - you seem to have lots of fun all the time :) your favorite photo of the day is also my favorite of the day...the one with the 2 missionaries in white shirts and all of the other's great! I was trying to find the official mission site ... b/c i'm sure those missionary Elders would LOVE a pro pic of them and all those bikers.