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Epilogue to Bike Ride

November 07, 1985

An Open Letter to the Organizers of the Catalina Island Bicycle Ride: ("Get Ready to Pedal Around Catalina," People in View, Oct. 11).

It's distressing to write this letter: I had a wonderful time and I ought to be writing about how fabulous the Catalina Island Bicycle Ride was--the people who gave their time unselfishly, Mary Stein's music, the refreshments, the vistas, the clean air.

Instead, there was a major flaw--ferrying the bicycles to and from Avalon.

My wife and I own a tandem, an Arriva (manufactured by Santana), which we bought new last year for $2,800. On the return trip, it was tied to the makeshift plywood deck of a vintage World War II landing craft and covered by a tarp that must have come off, because when it arrived in San Pedro, the bicycle was covered with sea water, perhaps doused continuously by spray during the three-hour crossing.

In any event, by the time we drove home, the corrosion was visible almost everywhere: chain, spokes, derailleur, generator, computer, etc.

If you've never seen electrolysis in action, it's almost impossible to believe how rapidly the sea can destroy metal. It's no exaggeration to say that every bicycle on that "deck" (maybe 100) was damaged. The extent of the damage would depend on how quickly and meticulously each bicycle was treated with turpentine and oil. (Although nearly exhausted, I spent three hours cleaning the bike that night and have since taken it to a bike shop for a major overhaul.)

I found it particularly galling that the bicycles weren't "put into separate grooves on the deck" as I'd been told beforehand. Rather they were leaned against each other like so many sardines. As a result, our bicycle now has two three-inch-long and very wide gouges in its metallic-blue lacquer paint job.

I understand despite better publicity, there were only 275 entrants this year (down from 300) but that 500 were expected. I wonder if the hidden costs of rust and corrosion kept many of last year's participants from repeating.

My wish is that (the race organizers) will improve how the bikes are shipped next year and make the Catalina Island Bicycle Ride the perfect adventure it almost is.


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