Chasing the Sun solo ride (kidney issues for Kevin again)

This could pass for a road in France! Fortunately, Higgins Purissima doesn’t require traveling 12 hours in a metal tube with bad air to ride it.

It was supposed to be the usual Sunday ride out to the coast with my son, maybe with West Alpine thrown in at the end. Didn’t work out; Kevin’s getting kidney pain again and instead of riding got to spend 4 or 5 hours at Kaiser. It was after 1pm by the time I finally got out on the road, which meant I’d be chasing the sun, trying to get in a good ride with very limited time. No biggie; I had two flashing tail lights, and, believe it or not, three headlights. Two meant for flashing mode and a super-bright Bontrager Ion 700 that can light up the road if it got seriously dark.

Beautiful view from a high point on Higgins Purissima, looking out towards the coast and the valley below
Beautiful view from a high point on Higgins Purissima, looking out towards the coast and the valley below

The most-unusual aspect of this ride was that I didn’t know where I was going. I wanted to do something a bit different, but what? Well, it’s like this. Virtually every single ride I do heads up over Jefferson and turns left on Canada. All of them. Whether it’s a ride to the coast, to Santa Cruz, up Kings, or south through the foothills. They all turn left on Canada. Today, I turned right. Headed north on Canada Road, the “Bicycle Sunday” route, then over to the coast via 92 to Half Moon Bay. What, you’re thinking it’s crazy to ride 92, that’s it way too busy? Well yeah, that’s hard to dispute. It is really busy, which mostly means noisy. Really noisy. But I’d wouldn’t call it unsafe, if you’re an experienced cyclist that can put some watts into the cranks when needed.

Looking up to Skyline from the coast
Looking up to Skyline from the coast

I passed on the coffee shop/cafe in Half Moon Bay that cyclists generally stop at, because, as I said, I was racing the sun. I headed up Higgins Purissima, discovering that it’s gotten a lot steeper since I last rode it! Where did that long climb come from??? Strava tells the story; I’ve only ridden it three times in modern history, in 2008, 2010 and today. 2008 would have been the last year I did many rides without Kevin, so it’s gratifying to see that I was actually faster today than I was then. But that’s not totally surprising because I was pushing it pretty much the whole time, stopping briefly only a couple times to take pictures.

After Higgins Purissima I looped up the Lobitos Creek cut-off to Tunitas, and then, instead of climbing back up to Skyline like you’d expect, I rode out to the coast and back home via San Gregorio (84) and West Old LaHonda. 57.5 miles (which happens to be exactly the same as the usual Pescadero/Tunitas loop), a lot of roads less-traveled, and at the end, my legs telling me that I rode. Doesn’t get much better.

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How not to take care of your customers

In response to customer complaints about United Airlines making their better customers jump through hoops to maintain the same level of benefits as they have had in the past, United Airlines posted this reply on their Twitter account-

For context, the airline industry is finally seeing full planes and improved profits (which may continue for awhile, as oil is forecast to remain at $85 barrel, well below expectations). With the mergers of Delta/Northwest, United/Continental & USAir/AA, competition is nearly non-existant; they’ve discovered they can make a lot more money by flying full planes and potentially turning away some business than if they expand and have to consider lowering price to attract customers from one airline to another. It’s a business, I get it, customers really don’t have a choice so they can get away with it. About as un-like the bicycle business as you can possibly get.

So the airlines, or at least United, work at ways to reduce & eliminate benefits that used to be free. For the occasional flyer without elite status, that’s already been done. Baggage fees, check in fees, call in fees, aisle & widow fees. Higher-level elites get those things, and more, for free. United thinks some of us (“us” because I am one of the mid-upper level elites) get more than we deserve, because we’re not “High Value Flyers” (HVF being the industry short hand). Many, perhaps most of us, rose up through the ranks, slowly gaining elite status by sticking to one airline (United) during the “dark days” when United was lucky to get a plane out of the gate before it “went MX” (mechanical issue). We stayed with United during the “Summer of Hell” when pilots staged a months-long slowdown. We kept flying post-9/11 because we had things to do, places to go, and we weren’t going to get caught up in the hysteria of fear that was gripping some of the country.

United marketed heavily to us, and we responded. We flew more. We paid more, because to maintain elite status you have to fly a lot of paid miles (award flights don’t count) and we couldn’t fly someone else who was cheaper or we’d miss our mileage target. Meanwhile the industry has been rapidly moving to an a la carte system where nearly all of the benefits we get, from being elites, are either available separately, for a fee, or come bundled with credit cards. Early boarding, special check-in lines, free checked bag.

Now, the airline says we “inundate” them. There are too many of us. We need to go away. Why? Why did they have to make it personal (using the word “inundate”) instead of just say it’s a business that has a responsibility to provide a maximum return to shareholders and take care of their employees?

It’s just nuts. How can a company have such public disdain for their customers? Sure, a business has a responsibility to make sure its very best customers are very well taken care of. But at the expense of everyone else? What happens when business isn’t so good?

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