Monthly Archives: January 2011

Not quite the ride planned, but you do what you can

A wet January day on Skyline

The plan? Kevin and I ride to Pescadero/San Gregorio/Tunitas and back. The usual coastal run. The weather? We knew it was going to be questionable at best, but we’re strong enough, we’re stupid enough, and we’ve got the gear for it. We got going around 9:50am (fairly early for us!) and headed out into a light drizzle, nothing nasty, just enough to make it not much fun. Almost nobody else out on the road; we saw 3 people on Canada, and not a single cyclist heading up or down Old LaHonda! A rare day indeed.

We weren’t burning up the pavement on the climb, but we weren’t slacking either, just a good, steady climb, knowing we had a long ride ahead of us. About 2/3rds of the way up Kevin’s dropped back a bit, and I look back on the last steep corner and he’s heading to the edge of the road and getting off his bike. Unfortunately I know where this is going; he’s had a bit of warning that a seizure is coming on, and the ones where he gets the warnings are the ones that tend to be a bit bigger. This was no exception; he was tensed up for about two minutes before coming out of it. We got back on and continued up the hill, delayed by no more than 5 minutes, but as the rain got heavier & the temps got colder, Kevin had lost his enthusiasm for the Pescadero Bakery so we scaled things back, heading down west-side Old LaHonda but then back up to Skyline and north all the way to 92 and back Canada. Even though significantly shortened (37 miles instead of 58), it still wasn’t easy, with the rain getting pretty heavy up on Skyline, soaking through our gloves, and the temperature holding steady at 45. At one point Kevin said, in a way that could have been mistaken for sarcasm, “This is what we do for fun.” But it wasn’t sarcastic; in our own warped minds, it was fun!

It was fun while it lasted (1K “elite” status on United Airlines)

What is a 1K? It’s the highest “earned” level on status on United Airlines. It’s not the highest level overall; nothing like the character in “Up in the Air” played by George Clooney. For that, the qualifications aren’t published but it’s obvious you’ve got to be buying a lot of full-fare business & first-class tickets. At United, that status is known as “GS.”

The coveted United 1K card, something I will likely see only once in my life, at least one with my name on it.

For most people, it means they fly too much and spend too much time away from home and too much money on mediocre motels and too much time in security lines. What you get in exchange for all that is the opportunity to board a plane earlier than everyone else (why this is a big thrill I don’t know; people rationalize that they need to get on the plane before the overhead space is filled up), a reasonable chance to get free upgrades into a first class seat when flying domestically and just enough chance to get an upgrade on an international flight that you spend more $$$ than you have to so you can get a qualifying fare, cross your fingers, and discover that you’re #3 on an upgrade list of 40 people (looks good!) but only #1 & #2 made it. You’re also better taken care of when things go wrong, whether due to a mechanical issue or weather.

In 2009, I accidentally flew too much. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. A number of trips back to Trek, the usual trip to DC for the Bike Summit, France in July for the Tour de France, and the biggie… a 15,000 mile round trip to Australia (Karen, my wife, really wanted to hold a Koala Bear. So we’ve got a $6000 picture of her holding a Koala Bear in the living room). Now, it normally takes 100,000 miles to get 1K status, and that’s 100,000 “BIS” (or, Butt in Seat) miles, not credit-card miles, not miles flying on award tickets. But in 2009, the airlines were in the toilet, and United offered something called “DEQM”, or Double Elite Qualifying Miles, where you got credited for two miles for each mile flown in the last quarter of the year, which coincided with the trip to Australia. That put me within 12,000 miles, so a very creative routing for a trip to DC put me over the top (5 flight segments in one direction!). Continue reading