Jack Castor Home/Museum & Airport Tour
April 6, 2008
Al Engle, Randy Mitchell, Jack Castor, Martin Krieg, Christian Wignall

Half Moon Bay HiWheel Ride - Biking Amongst Champions!

Twelve of us (Jack Castor, Max Chen, Ebbe Yovino-Smith, Weeb, Matt Podol, Dave Menche, Jeff Kistler, Al Engle, Christian Wignall, Randy Mitchell, and myself) enjoyed a bike ride that would be impossible to replicate. It started out with a short video of Jack Castor's HiWheel racing exploits, followed by a few stories about his legendary crash and his 1984 HiWheel ride from San Francisco to Boston. All of us, including Rich Willits and his son Peter who were in Half Moon Bay already because of a soccer tournament and another three of Jack's neighbors, were all held in awe as Jack answered our questions.

Then Jack started showing us his bikes. Jeff, who throughout the day took 1500 pictures (see below!), was so excited that he couldn't stop pointing and shooting his camera. As Jack told the story about each machine, Jeff ran his photo device almost the entire time. . -
See the Full Report-

Ebbe Yovino-Smith's stunning photo art:

GRATITUDE: if the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you
it will be enough -- meister eckhart

Randy in yellow
Eddie Andreini
Dave Menche, Matt Podol
Max Chen
Al tried to pedal start the velocipede
Ebbe Yovino-Smith
Jeff Kistler brings up rear on his vintage Bob Jackson as he snaps away. Luckily, I took this photo with my iPhone as I pedaled my HiWheel.
We only toured less then a half of his collection before Jack decided it was time to ride. At which point, he got out his Premier (made by Hillman, Herbert & Cooper in 1881) for me, a Columbia for Randy and we aired two of his balloon tired Schwinn reproductions for us. Al Engle, the California Wheelman Captain, would ride the 55" Columbia Light Roadster that he brought up from San Bernardino, Christian would ride the RBR that he brought down from San Francisco, while Jack picked out the custom built Edlee on which he had won many a race. Matt, Max, Ebbe, Dave and Jeff were all on modern bikes.

By the time we started riding, the coastal rain that the morning began with had changed to cool skies, perfect for biking. From Jack's, we descended from his home in the foothills to Hwy One. Soon we were riding through a eucalyptus grove on our way to the ocean's edge. Still high above the sea, the bluffs we rode were blessed with a well maintained asphalt trail that had light foot traffic. Three miles later we were standing on Main Street in front of one of the best sandwich shops I have ever eaten at, the Garden Deli Cafe. Al wouldn't let me stop at an ATM to get cash and bought my egg salad/avocado selection for me. I told him that is what I got last time and so he got one too. We were both extremely pleased with the choice.

As we sat and ate in their spacious patio, located in the middle of quaint tourist filled downtown of Half Moon Bay, one passer by after another stopped to marvel at our bikes. The conversation as we ate was also spirited. Already we had had a perfect day.

Next stop, the Half Moon Bay Airport, six miles away. What had been a tail wind aided joy ride into town for all of us required different degrees of effort of everyone as we tuned back into the chill blowing air. The girls on their heavy bikes definitely had to work. As did Al and Jeff who have both been so consumed with their jobs that they have been out of the saddle far more than they prefer. Jeff also had the handicap of turning around and taking tons of great photos of us as he rode. Having played a full afternoon of football the day before, I know I was working and had even more awe for Jack Castor who led the way. And this guy is 71! Not paying attention to the other Hi riders, Randy and Christian, as I tried to keep an eye on Al, every time I looked ahead, the three of them were farther and farther away. Until I totally lost sight of them.

Luckily we found our way to Eddie Andreini's hangar. Eddie showed up a few minutes later and gave us a 25 minute exhibition of his 2100 horsepower (that is not a typo, the motor is so highs strung it stalls out at 180 mph and cruises at 400 mph) Yak 9 fighter in action. A P51 Mustang on steroids, it can do three to four times as many stalls, dives and cartwheels as the P51 it is modeled after. And in the sky high above, Eddie showed us why he is in such demand the world around as a flying acrobat. Too sensational.

What was even more amazing is the fact that the 5 G's of force the Yak 9 hammered him with is nothing compared to the 8 G's that his Stearman Biplane presses upon him. When he tried to convince me that all of the various pressures and other bodily sensations such flying brings about was tolerable if one saw it
as an acquired skill no different from learning to ride a HiWheel, I knew he didn't know how fully transcendent he really was. A senior citizen, he was doing things that even the most able bodied of men couldn't even hope to ever be able to do. It only made perfect sense that he and Jack are best of friends to one another.

We rode the three miles back to Jack's with a delicious tail wind. Nor was the day quite finished. Out came Jack's Ingo that everyone took a hand at riding. A scooter with an out of round back wheel, it is propelled by moving both of one's legs up and down at the same time. As usual, Jack was the only guy who could really get the thing moving at speed.

We also tried his velocipede. A replica of the very first bicycle ever made, it has two equal sized wheels. But no chain. Which means that the rider must pedal, steer and brake the front wheel. A rickety and unstable ride, it is easy to see why the HiWheel was the next step in the bicycle evolutionary process.

It only seemed fitting that Jack had also won the Velocipede World Championship held in Belgium in 2002. What fun to be around such a high achiever!

What a day!!

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