Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Sendero GPS Inventor Mike May meets with President Obama

Davis, CA. Sendero CEO Mike May was at the White House for the 3rd time in 2009, this time to meet privately with President Obama and members of his cabinet as well as to attend the signing ceremony for the 19th anniversary of ADA and the UN adoption of the disability act for 52 countries. Mike May said, "It was exciting to be part of this small group from the disability community and to meet the president. I feel a huge responsibility being part of this historic dialog. There are so many possibilities to explore on the technology frontier and I hope my, Always-a-Way perspective can be instrumental in creating substantive progress for blind and disabled people worldwide. This is a president that embodies hope more than any other and I left Washington very inspired."

Group that met with President Obama, Mike and Miguel are pictured at the head of the table
Obama circulating the room, back of Mike pictured

Mike May has been a pioneer in new product and business development in a variety of industries for over 25 years. His story is told in the bestseller Crashing Through including his stem cell transplant and recovery of some vision after 43 years of total blindness. May founded the Sendero Group in January 2000 to make GPS technology and location information accessible to those who can't read print signs. He has been on many nonprofit boards and now serves on the boards of the Society for the Blind and the Seeing Eye.

Visit the Sendero website to see the summary of the meeting

Friday, July 17, 2009


History of the “Limo”

The Limo, tandem bicycleOk, this is not really about the history of the limousine but rather a short history of Mike and my tandem bicycle (long, black and beautiful machine) for the purpose of a gift for Brandon and Rachael’s upcoming marriage. We hope they enjoy it as much as we do.

The Limo was inspired by Mike along with my technical knowledge of bicycling and soon to come “captaining” expertise in early 1984. I had just graduated from college and Mike had just begun with his first “start-up” company (Finial Technology) and we also just decided to room together in Silicon Valley. Also, I had attempted to learn to ski that season and Mike’s idea may have been – “You learn my sport, how about I give yours a spin.” We checked out numerous options and the best seemed to be to have a custom made tandem bicycle by Jeff Lyon of LyonSport.

It was either Keith Bontrager (world renowned bicycle frame builder) or the President of Santana Bicycles who once said or observed, “Tandem cyclists have the lowest divorce rate of any group, denomination or any other classification.” I am assuming that is has something to do with teamwork. Therefore we are lucky enough to give Brandon and Rachael a little teamwork.

Technically we did a couple of things different with the Limo than most. First, we had it built a little undersized Both Mike and I are quite tall and we didn’t want to get “stuck” with one another. This turned out to be a brilliant strategy. Second, we had the rear drum brake control mounted for the rear rider (the rear rider called the “stoker” and the front rider is called the “captain”) to give the person in the rear something to do. I don’t recall ever using it much since we both like FAST. Lastly and this came as an as needed technical improvement, we placed a bungee cord between the front and rear pedals to keep the toe-clip cage always in the up position, this also proved to be quite advantageous especially on uphill starts.

In the beginning: About four months for completion I remember be very anxious to get started. I didn’t like the tandem at first; slow to get out the starting block as compared to my racing bike and harder uphill. We developed our own commands: “Go” meant go, “right foot out” meant we were going to come to a complete stop, “ease up” meant we were going to change gears or coast. It just isn’t that complicated. The cool thing as I came to learn was that someone was always there to talk to or at. Mike and I had important discussions on the bike, buying a house and his engagement to Jenifer comes to mind. When buying a house and you want to get a real feel for what a neighborhood is like – do it on a tandem.

Our maiden Voyage (I think?): Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and up Kings Canyon Road up to Highway 35 just south of San Francisco, Ann Turpin and a few other Mike’s cronies were our peloton. Uphill is hell but the flats and downhill we were king, 25 years ago and I still remember Kings Canyon Road. It felt like Mike never pedaled uphill.

Some rides to remember:

Tour de San Francisco: Summertime in San Francisco can truly be frigid. The Tour de San Francisco was 50 kilometer (30 miles) small gathering for some 6000 cyclists. It was our first group ride and we began somewhere at the rear 5000 to 5500 riders were ahead of us. Did I tell you it was freezing and all we had were shorts and a t-shirt? They closed the route to autos this Sunday morning ride. Anyway it was exhilarating and scary trying to maneuver the limo through this very ambitious crowd and down steep, slippery and foggy streets. Even though it was classified as a ride, it felt like the Tour de France itself. Since tandem riding is inherently faster than single riding cyclists flocked to draft behind the tandem and we were very popular. I was cold, Mike was cold and the only way to get through this “ride/race” was to pedal and pedal we did. I remember being on the coast section which was windy, cold and flat and looking behind to see twenty ore more riders just catching our draft. We finished in the top 100.

Mike’s driving. Demo ride for the visually impaired which probably had twenty or so tandems around Livermore and the base of Mt. Diablo. Easy ride, easy day so it would seem until Mike suggested that he captain the Limo. We were very far ahead and I thought why not. So on a flat and straight country road we switched, shaky and unsure we rode a least a couple of miles and switched back. Later the film crew caught up with us and out of the back of a pickup truck filmed us closely ahead. I said, “You just missed Mike driving,” “yea right” said the driver and that is all it took for us to switch back. We were less shaky and unsure while being filmed.

Nationals make you cry: OK this was a race! The National or Regional championship in Southern California for the visually impaired. It was a race and it felt like a race, adrenalin pumping, concentration flowing serious race. Staggered start (I guess you don’t want a bunch of blinks starting a race side-by-side). We get our start signal and Mike jetted onto the saddle and pedaled forward like a wild-man, the force so fierce it slammed my groin onto my saddle so hard that instantly water flowed from my eyes; there really wasn’t time to cry just pedal. We finished second and I finished clack and blue.

“Gotta get one for my brother”: Ambitious ride from Santa Cruz to Big Sur well over 100 miles. We started in Santa Cruz and stopped in Monterey to pick up my friends from France Gato, Diane and Sue. Gato rode his bike with us while Diane and Sue drove their auto. The Pacific Coast is one of the most majestic places on earth especially Monterey to Big Sur, Just south of Carmel you pass Clint Eastwood’s estate called Mal Paso Heights (also the name of his production company) the views are spectacular. Modestly rolling highway and hills overlooking the spectacular Pacific Ocean. Good tail winds while heading south and dangerous crosswinds at the bottom of most turns. It is easy to get 50+ mile an hour downhill with beautiful sweeping turns before your next climb. Diane and Sue parked at the grocery store as the rest of us proceeded to Phiefer Big Sur State Park. At the gate the ranger said, “Beautiful bike, where did you ride from?” Small talk ensued and then we set camp in the majestic redwoods of one of California’s most beautiful parks. 

I left the park solo to ride back and get Diane and Sue, upon seeing me leave alone on the tandem the ranger said, “where are going?” I responded to get a girl.” “Sure you are,” he said. Ten minutes later I have returned with the drop dead gorgeous Diane on the back of the tandem. “Damn,” he said. I left Diane at our campground and once again passed the ranger station, “now where are you going.” “Gotta get one for my brother.” PS the ranger came to our camp to party that night.

Are you nuts? Eureka, CA to Sunnyvale, CA. Beginning on the Northern coast of California and ending in our home town of Sunnyvale (all in all about 7 days and over 700 miles). This was a group ride so there were several tandems; Jennifer captained their tandem on this trip as well. Highway 1 North of San Francisco is more narrow than going south on Highway 1 from San Francisco. What makes this rides nuts is not the time or distance but having to share the road with logging trucks. A remarkable section was Legget, 5 steep, retched miles up and fifteen gracious miles down. What was quite memorable about this section is that Mike cranked hard up and gave the downhill section to Jerry Kuns. I wouldn’t have given up the downhill after the up for love nor money. We camped, ate and had a sag-wagon – now that’s a blessing.

OH Tahoe or give me a brake: It is eighty five miles around Lake Tahoe, 5000 foot altitude. We were the only tandem on this trip, Ron Salviolo (Mike’s skiing guide partner) Curtis Fong a local radio disc jockey and a few others. We started at South Shore and only after a few miles we had to stop for breakfast. Eating vast quantities is one of the great joys of distance riding but a few miles (give me a brake). Not too long after that Curtis started complaining that his tires weren’t “rolling right” so in North shore we had to stop again so that Curtis could buy and replace his tires (Curtis give me a brake). Somewhere in North Shore Ron suggested that he captain the tandem and I switch to my Black Bike (a sleek unpretentious beautiful racing bike) I thought ‘cool’, Ron is a good ski guide so he must be a good tandem captain. Also, it would give me a chance to truly beet the fancy bike and pretty shirt wearing Curtis. Wrong, Ron wasn’t a good captain and I am certain that Mike felt nervous after three nervous and shaky starts by Ron. All is good, Mike and Ron are rolling along, and now I can hunt down the fancy bike Curtis who might be as far as three to five miles ahead. I am cranking, out-pacing some cars, blasting ahead maybe thirty miles and yet I never come across our group or Curtis. So I wait and after sometime I hear an ambulance and the only thought is that Mike and Ron crashed. I race back 15 miles, no bike accidents so I continue the ride back around the Lake. The sag-wagon found me and said they took a different route and that Ron was too pooped to continue (just happened to be on the uphill section) so I switched back to finish the ride with Mike. Great ride except it took me a 100+ to do an eighty five mile ride. Give me a brake!

There are many other Joyous rides but due to my age I can’t remember them all. Mike and I never fought while on the tandem and rarely fought off either.

A Great stoker is a thing of joy but it is important to try both roles. Eating plenty is a must and a sag-wagon is blessing. But most of all – Teamwork is paramount. Enjoy!

Patrick and Mike July, 2009

Diane Bryant on the tandemMike wasn’t always my favorite partner, Diane Bryant (1987) former Miss Sacramento and former roommate. Currently Diane is Senior Vice President of Engineering for Intel Corporation. Tandem riders are smart and beautiful.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


ABVI Honors Mike May

Mike May, Sendero Group awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from ABVI Goodwill in Rochester, NY.

See Mike on 13WHAM News


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