Thursday, February 12, 2009

Michelob ULTRA Lighthouse Cycling Tour

This past weekend was a special weekend for me: I got to return to Puerto Rico to participate in the Lighthouse Cycling Tour. Not as a cyclist, but as a photographer. Awhile back, Executive Director William Medina was on Facebook of all things and noticed a few photos I posted online. Unbeknownst to William, he was about to stumble upon his official photographer for the 2009 Tour and I was about to get a gig that was beyond my wildest dreams. An avid cyclist, a fan of the sun and a big believer in what the tour is and will become, I jumped at the chance to hang up my bike shoes and capture what is in my opinion, one of the best cycling events/tours the world has to offer. If you don't believe me, just take a look.

The 2009 Michelob ULTRA Lighthouse Cycling Tour of Puerto Rico is a 3 day, 375 miles tour covering 9 historical lighthouses of Puerto Rico.
The three day, recreational, non competitive cycling adventure will circle the entire Island of Puerto Rico passing through 43 coastal towns and everything in between. Day 1 ends in Ponce, Day 2 leads to Mayaguez with Day 3 coming full circle to the city of Old San Juan. It's a breathtaking ride. But don't get too comfortable, they're are plenty of hills...lots and lots of hills. Tons of hills. (Did I say there were hills?)

So, I flew in Wednesday afternoon, checked into the Casablanca Hotel and promptly realized I left my Macbook Pro on the plane!!! A $3,000 computer blindly left in the magazine holder in the seat in front of me as I left the plane...needless to say, the scariest moment of my life. Hundreds of files potentially gone, hours of work to be redone and of course I would need to buy another computer. ARGHHH!!! Panic pulsed thru my veins and it was a mad dash to the phone. As I called so did the desk clerk at the hotel, and would you believe it, I get an answering machine at baggage claim. An answering machine!?!?!? I needed help now. Who knows what would happen if that plane takes off. Plus, without the computer, editing photos or downloading them would be impossible. And at that very split second of thought, the desk clerk says they have it. Apparently, whatever number she called, put her in touch with the on duty supervisor who at that very moment was handed the computer seconds before she answered the phone. WOW! Crisis averted, I paid the $40 round trip cab ride back to the airport and eventually readied myself for Thursday's meet and greet ride followed by a press conference and the registration, concluding with a nice pasta dinner. Day 1 was going to be tough and I was nervous, but today was going to give me a chance to work with the motorcycle/driver in order to coordinate the best possible scenario for taking some great photos. I kept my fingers crossed.

This family-run bakery and coffee shop was founded in 1902. The counter is long and the booths are many, but you have to get there as early as you can to avoid waiting in line. The shop fills with locals trading gossip and slowly eating their breakfasts. You have to try the mallorca con mantequilla (a round, flat pastry dusted with confectioner’s sugar and served with butter). On Thursday morning, LCT had a special "get to know each other" ride for their friends from out of the country and we all met here.

A large map of Puerto Rico.

Michelob ULTRA -- the official sponsor of the Vuelta de los nueve faros.
(William was very proud of these posters around the island)

It doesn't get any prettier than this.

We had a group of about 40 Thursday morning.

Keane West
(World recorder holder for going the futherest distance in 24 hours by a hand cyclist)

San Juan
(either the oldest or 2nd oldest cyclist in the group)

Executive Director - William Medina showing off the new jerseys for this year's ride.

I guess it's not every day that students in Puerto Rico get to see a hand cyclist, but today was there lucky day. Keane was gracious enough to spend some time with the students answering questions and showing them how he moves and brakes with the chair.

(If you'd like to see more photos from Thursday at LCT, check out the photo album on Facebook)

Thursday LCT Photo Album

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