An ElliptiGo bike is ridden in a standing position, like a person using an elliptical machine at a gym, and requires 30 to 35 percent more effort to propel than a traditional bicycle.
So says Yountville resident Bob Redwanc, a local ambassador for a company that makes them.
Anyone who wants to know how the bike performs on long-distance rides can ask Redwanc. He’s done a few of them with his Arizona friend, Dr. Ted Jenal — most recently a six-day, 702-mile trek from Yountville to the Aria City Centre resort in Las Vegas to mark Redwanc’s 60th birthday.
The two began their journey at 2:30 a.m. May 7, planning to travel mainly on bike routes suggested by a computer application. After many dead ends, constant left and right turns, and muddy dirt trails, however, they took a different approach.
Pulling out their iPhone maps, they found alternative routes that would help them not only make better time, but also make up some of the time lost on the bike paths.
“Most of the ride is not scenic, if you have ever driven down I-5 to Barstow,” Redwanc said. “All you see is desert, fields of fruit and nut trees, and cattle farms for miles. It’s hard enough to ride the ElliptiGo, let alone have a journey that for the most part is within the breadbasket of the state of California.”
Day 1 was a long one — 166 miles to Los Banos, where they encountered headwinds and even some heavy downpours.
“Day 1 is always tough because you wonder if you drew up the right route plan, have the right gear, and if your fitness is really what you think it is,” Redwanc said. “It was kind of like a chess game, planning the next two to three moves in advance to make sure that we had places to refill our water and get food.”
He got his first flat tire as they were entering Tracy, about 88 miles into the ride during a light drizzle. They repaired it, had a quick lunch at a coffee shop and pedaled on, finally arriving in Los Banos after riding nearly 17 hours.
They showered, ate, got a few hours of sleep, and were back on the road at 4 a.m. for a 160-mile leg to Delano. The weather was cloudy and cool in the morning and stayed pleasant all day long.
“We had a great breakfast at Chubby’s Diner in Kerman, where we met some very nice people, and that gave us the boost that we needed to continue on,” Redwanc recalled.
But not without a few interruptions.
“When riding the ElliptiGo, there are always people taking photos or videos or pulling us over to ask questions about the bikes,” Redwanc said.
At their next stop, in Hanford, they sat on a curb eating “roasted chicken with lots of salt,” he said. “We talked of food all day, focusing on what we were going to have for dinner each night. We could not get cheeseburgers, salt and catsup off our minds.”
They arrived in Delano at about 7:30 p.m. and had a nice conversation with a woman at the front desk whose family was there with her celebrating Mother’s Day.
Run-in with the law
Day 3 was supposed to be their short day, just 74 miles to Tehachapi, though with a lot of climbing. It ended up being longer than they’d anticipated.
“We hopped on Highway 99, trying to make a quick work of the first 30 miles to Bakersfield, but after eight or nine miles we were pulled over by a CHP officer,” Redwanc recalled. “He escorted us off and told us that we needed to find an alternate route off the freeway, once again adding miles. We took a few moments, but figured a way through the back roads that were much more pleasant to travel then the very noisy, scary freeway.
“We rode through miles and miles of fruit and nut trees, though we felt good knowing that we would never be without food or fluids.”
After stocking up again at a coffee shop in Bakersfield, they had quickly knocked off the first 50 miles of the day and looked forward to getting to the hotel in Tehachapi — early, for a change, with time to do laundry and prepare for Day 4.
“Then we hit Bena Road and the climb began — 5,700 feet of elevation later, we dragged ourselves into Tehachapi, having ridden 11 and a half hours and 84 miles,” Redwanc said.
Day 4 started with a climb out of Tehachapi to Barstow of 114 miles.
“The air was cool, turning cold, as they descended to the desert below. After about three hours, they stopped in Rosamond to have breakfast and restock their packs for the long haul across the desert — one he said was made longer by a faulty map app.
“We were drawn to a dead-end dirt road that cost us an extra 24 miles,” Redwanc said. “Mentally that error hit us hard, yet we forged ahead, knowing we were getting closer to our goal. The heat of the desert and the lack of water stops slowed us considerably and we were glad to finally make it to Barstow. A quick pizza and off to bed.”
‘Highlight of our trip’
Day 5 was to be 112 miles from Barstow to Primm, Nevada.
“The day started off great. We covered the first 50 miles in about 4.5 hours, stopping for lunch and feeling positive and energetic,” Redwanc recalled. “Then all hell broke loose. We failed to check the map’s altitude closely enough and finally discovered that we were on a 40-mile climb along I-15 with not many places to stop and refuel.
“The temp rose to the low 90s and we ran out of water. Jenal decided to wave his water bottle to the passing cars and within five minutes a semi pulled over and gave us all of the water we needed. We continued on and the climb continued on and the heat continued to rise as we entered Death Valley. The heat was unbearable, so we decided to hitchhike to Primm Valley.”
It was a gamble that at first seemed have led to even more bad luck.
“A white pickup truck pulled over and two massive dudes with tattoos everywhere got out and approached us,” Redwanc said. “We thought we were in for trouble.
“It turned out they were on their way to Vegas, both Brazilian. Alex was a bodyguard for boxer Floyd Mayweather, and the other Alex was a professional bodybuilder. Never judge a book by its cover, because they saved our day. They immediately offered us cold water, food, a phone to call our wives and mainly a ride to Primm Valley. We knew their jobs were important, yet they wanted our picture because they were impressed that two regular cycling dudes could do what we had done so far. It turned out this was the highlight of our trip. The world is full of not-so-nice people, and for the most part we met some very nice and kind people along the way. Alex and Alex turned out to be the nicest people you would want to know.”
Once at the hotel in Primm, they enjoyed a hearty dinner and good sleep in preparation for the final 40 miles into Las Vegas.
It would be a relatively uneventful ride on a beautiful cool morning.
“We arrived to the Aria at around 10:30 a.m., checked our bikes, had a great meal, and then went to the VIP lounge to waiting for our family and friends to arrive,” Redwanc said. “We reminisced of our six-day ride while drinking espressos, just happy to be finished, then celebrated with family and friends and ate lots and lots of food.”
One thing they could count on each day was that the mileage would always be more than they had expected.
“We never got a break in a positive direction,” Redwanc said. “But the best part of the journey were the people that we met along the way. It renewed my faith that there are still a lot of great people out there willing to help someone in need.
“This was a test to see what I still had in the tank at the age of 60, a test of mind, body and strength. I passed the test, but I think that from now on I’ll do rides with my wife to, say, the local wineries.”
Anyone interested in taking an ElliptiGo for a test ride can visit www.elliptigo.com and click “Find a Dealer.” When they enter a Napa Valley zip code, they will see Redwanc’s contact information.