hi there, thanks for clicking on todays blog, and apologies for last weeks lack of, i was completely zonked when i attempted to write it, and as pete who works with me eloquently described, i just kept falling asleep at the keyboard, quite funny actually, but hopefully this blog doesn't induce a similar experience for you!
my trip to l.a. last week was always going to be as much challenging as fun, as a trip across the atlantic and back within 96 hours is bound to confuse the body and mind into submission, and stopping at detroit on the way out, and new york on the way back just added to the hours travelled, and the mental disorientation.
however, there was fun included in this self induced trip, and my mission to research my everest buddy tim medvetz's charity cycle event, with a view to copying it back here in the uk went exactly how i had hoped it would.
i landed in la la land, and jumped in a cab to my other everest buddy, carly portalupi's house to collect the car that she had said i could borrow for the duration of my trip, which was extremely kind of her, thanks everest buddy, and as i started the engine of her jeep it growled at me, tiger like, and i knew it was gonna be a fun ride.
carly's fiance cory was there to give me the keys as carly was working, and having never met this man before i was tasked with reversing this shere khan of a vehicle up their very steep drive, and out onto the road, in the dark of night, no pressure!
i managed to carry out this task, and was kind of waiting for cory to at least administer a british thumbs up, but alas he was a californian, who exuded cool, which did not allow for such non cool actions as thumbs upping. *note to self, stop doing thumbs up, ever!
once on the highway (see how i just morphed into american speak there? bugger i nearly did a thumbs up) the journey to my hotel should have been a cakewalk, as i went to turn on tom tom on my phone, and enetered my downtown hollywood address.
unfortunately i hadn't downloaded the american version, and only had european roads.
i typed in my o hotel location into google maps and hoped they would help me.
they did, but not as easily as tom tom would have done.
as a new wearer of glasses to see things close up, i need my glasses to read the tiny text that google maps provided, but to drive i didn't operate at full optical capacity with them on, so i spent the thirty minute journey lifting my glasses up and down, glancing at the phone, precariously positioned on the dashboard, and trying desperately to stop the phone from going into sleep mode, whilst cussing at very regular intervals in what resembled the early onset of tourettes's.
i had booked the o hotel because it was very cheap and well positioned in downtown hollywood, and it was a great surprise to find that it was a beautifully designed boutique hotel with absolutely amazing staff, and super value, so if you head to l.a. give it a look.
after attempting unsuccessfully to write my blog in my room, i gave in and decided to get some well needed rest, and woke early the next morning refreshed, and ready to head off to santa monica pier to meet carly, and her friend chris for breakfast.
the sun shone brightly, and i joined the four lane throng of folk who drove with me to santa monica.
i entered an underground garage near the pier, and had gone too far in before i realised the roof of the garage was extremely low, and the jeep roof was decidedly high compared to my uk ride. my face screwed up as i gingerly edged forward, ready to stop at the first sound of scraping, and the voice inside my head asking politely to please not hit the roof............. no we're good, never in doubt!
as i met carly, i remembered what a lovely girl she is, she radiates happy, and she is one life's gooduns, and i enjoy being in her company.
her pal chris was a climber, and was heading off to climb denali in alaska, which is my favourite mountain i have climbed, so we all chatted about his future trip, and i admired the unsupported way he is attempting the climb, though with my lack of real experience, it probably wouldn't be for more, denali is a truly beautiful mountain, but as the coldest mountain in the world it can take your life away very quickly, so i hope chris and his partner on their climb, good luck and safe climbing.
fed and watered, we did actually have a beer with our breakfast, their suggestion not mine, when in rome rodney, and it seemed right as i was on holiday, we trundled over to the pier, where the purpose of my journey was going to unfold.
as we got midway down the very large pier, the section that was to hold tim's event was fenced off with an eight foot high fence, to stop passers by from wandering in to this highly organised event, and to ensure they paid the $25 entry fee if they wanted to spectate, maximising the amount raised.
as we entered the facility the view was amazing, the beautiful view of the ocean, which divided the landscape vista of golden sand and electric blue sky, was idyllic.
there before me were almost 300 schwinn spin bikes, very closely positioned next to each other, and the final few were being wheeled into position by tim's team, a pretty cool spectacle.
carly introduced me to beccy from schwinn, and i told her about my project, and we spent a while chatting about how schwin uk could get involved, and this was part of the reason for making the trip, meeting people that could help me with my quest.
i then met jj, who works with tim in the charity, and in my opinion is his right hand girl, and was very much in charge of the event, orchestrating everybody around her with great confidence and calmness, and a true leader. jj was busy, but still afforded me time to discuss logistics, and answer questions, and made me feel very welcome, which was really appreciated, cheers jj if you read this :)
i wandered around the pier wondering at the magnitude of the setup, and imagining what it would look and feel like in a few hours time.
i then spied the big man, 6'4" in his socks, ripped jeans, leather waistcoat, ballcap, and a presence that most would long for.
now as we last saw each other on everest, and i was standing in his sandbox, i wasn't 100% on how this would go, some holiday romances wain on meeting up again, but as we saw each other and walked towards each other i needn't have worried, we hugged it out, with most of the discs in my back welcoming tim's embrace with a click.
manlove and banter ensued, and disrespectful comments to one another's birthplaces was standard fare, as we duelled childishly.
i like tim.
jj needed my mate, and he strode off, his bulky size twelve boots making his gait resemble some modern day cowboy, and i thought about how this event was his brainchild, and admired his vision.
as we neared the opening time for the gig, the finishing touches were applied to the venue, and i helped stick american flags here there and everywhere, and looked forward to what the next few hours would bring.
the first few people started to arrive, armed with towels, water bottles, nutrition, and a spirit that was definitely very excited.
the concept of the event is that 300 spin bikes have people that have been sponsored to ride them for three hours, either with hardcore riders for the duration, or teams who change up when needed.
multiply 300 by the amount they each get sponsored, a minimum of $500 and you get avery large sum of money for a very short event, in my opinion genius.
as the bikes filled up with riders, and i stood there observing, charlie my other everest buddy, who was climbing with tim this year, came up to me with a 'what are you doing here?' moment.
i told him my reason to be there was just to support him, to which he muttered some u.s. expletives, and we did the manhug thing again, chiropractors are us, here we go again!
we grabbed a beer, and charlie, an amputee with one leg, and two half fingers missing, introduced me to a couple of his buddy's with similar disabilities, who had climbed with tim over the last few years on his heroes project, on which he helps these guys achieve things they probably didn't believe possible before they summited.
the crowds grew, and the guys departed for their bikes, and i filmed how the event was unfolding.
jj was to be our mc for the evening, and as a spin teacher in her day job, she led the event from onstage at the front, with a team of other spin teachers throughout the evening.
one of the reasons i had taken this trip was to see exactly how tim executed the event, and pick up tips on how to run it successfully, and as the pier hushed for the playing of the national anthem i noticed in the distance some aircraft heading for the pier, and waited to see what was going to happen.
tim is very well connected in hollywood, and having richard stark and scott rosen on his board of directors, http://theheroesproject.org/board-of-directors/ definitely helps the flow.
as i watched the guitarist and keyboard player onstage set up to play an acoustic rendition of the start spangled banned, i had it pointed out to me that the guitarist was duff mckagan, the bass player with guns n roses, of course it was, i sighed.
here is a video of that part of my trip, and it is worth watching to get a feel of the event i think.
pretty cool eh?
the tempo then lifted as jj and her team set about entertaining the 1000 plus crowd of riders and spectators, with heavy beat rock and roll music, videos of the guys tim has taken to climb the highest peaks of the world, and pole dancers (with clothes on) to entertain one and all.
i watched, listened, danced, and smiled inside as the event unfolded before my eyes, i love my friends being successful, and this event that my friend ran was a total success, and as the evening came a crescendo with the most energetic, and poetic of all the spin teachers 'pixie' leading the final charge, i wondered if i could ever put on such a well staged event, but whether i can or not, i now know what can be achieved, and it is up to me to deliver something comparable.
tim raised $220,000 overall on this event, so the stakes are high, but my goodness what a dream for me to have, so watch this space, and if you have any ideas, or ways you think you can help me on this idea, please get in touch.
when i hold this event, and when it is a success, it will be for a number of reasons, but the main one will be because of kind people, in particular carly and tim, for allowing me to take part in a very small way in their dream, and for that i thank them, and i hope that when we hold our uk version, that they will join me to see our interpretation.
it's a bit of a long blog today, but hopefully interesting to read.
i am very excited to announce here that next week i have and interview with alan arnette, who is an amazing 58 year old, climber, fundraiser, and generally great guy, who has just climbed one of the toughest mountains in the world k2, and will be sharing some of his thoughts exclusively with you guys, so check back with us next week to read alan's great story.
have a great week,