Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No better way to spend your (birth)day

I can't remember who, but someone recently asked me how I spent my 31st birthday. I had the day off, and maybe they imagined I went to the spa, shopping, or for a fanciful dinner out. I assume they would have approved of some more glamorous activity, because when I said I went for a bicycle ride in Marin, they kind of rolled their eyes in a sort of "figures" gesture. I was a bit taken aback--should I have done something more "relaxing", more typical? Well, little did they know I tried that for the big 3-0 last year, and it was a mediocre (my forte'!) at best. Okay massage, messy mani/pedi, PAINFUL facial, disappointing dinner. Well, this year, I decided to keep it simple--and it was simply marvelous. I don't know how many times in the course of the ride that I exclaimed "this is so incredible! Oh my gosh how beautiful! I'm having such a great time!"--a little cliched, but I fall back on cliches' when I'm at a loss for words (see?!). Afterwards, artisan beer, fries, wings, a few vegetables, more beer--and homemade organic ice cream. It was well beyond my expectations, and a most memorable day.

Route: Start in Fairfax, center of town. Head toward the west on Sir Francis Drake. Just outside of Lagunitas, as you enter Samuel P. Taylor State Park, begin to look on the right for a small wooden bridge that marks the entrance to the Cross Marin Bike Trail. Trail winds through the park along the river, partially unpaved. At the end of the trail, veer right, then left onto Platform Bridge Road. Best views of Elephant Mountain. At the stop sign, turn left on Point Reyes/Petaluma Road. A bit of traffic, not too bad. At the stop, turn left to head down the hill into Point Reyes Station. Bovine Bakery, Toby's, Cowgirl Creamery--a venerable foodie paradise. Take Hwy One south toward Olema. In Olema, turn left back onto Sir Francis Drake and climb to the top of the hill. Look for the Bolinas Ridge Trail entrance on the right. Trail is 11 miles long, at times steep, rocky, muddy, but mostly exhilarating. The views are unparalleled--stop to take lots of photos (the one at the top is in the forested part of the trail, in the Mt. Tam watershed). Trail ends onto Fairfax/Bolinas Road. Turn left for a well-deserved downhill to the resevoir. Go over the bridge, and turn right to climb back up to a mini-pass. Once at the top, it's all downhill to the center of Fairfax--I recommend a beeline toward Iron Springs! 48 miles, 4 1/2 hours.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Car Free Challenge

So I decided to do this crazy car-free challenge thing in June, during which I try to only drive 150 miles the entire month. Given the Oakland travelling-nature of my job, this is going to test my resolve, bigtime (see photo--heels and skirt, not a deterrent! crooked helmet, why I'm only mediocre, and kind of a giant dork). I can't tell you the number of times I've prepared to ride to work the evening before, only to awaken and lose all motivation (and, you know, eco-friendly values)! But so far, so good. I rode 4 days last week, even to a school in a sketch neighborhood, and am ready for more.

The other piece of it is that I'm definitely going to take it seriously, which may result in some conflicts between the hubby and I. Once I set my mind, you can be fairly certain it will not waiver. Hence the riding through the 'hood; carrying a 50 lb. bag of cat-food (no carbs! all natural meats!) on my back; and turning down a great ride today through West Marin because the group was driving there (wait.... was I invited?). Well, I kind of like that I can demonstrate discipline--in diet, in self-care, and in the car-free challenge. Now that it's published for the world (or really, my 1 follower, Johnny, little bro thanks!) to see, I better not disappoint!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pride (and Recumbents)

Nothing deflates a cyclist's ego like being passed by a recumbent. (unless, of course, you ride a recumbent). Lovely Sunday morning Three Bears ride tainted by the insistent pedaling of a gray braided medicine woman pedaling up the grades with relative ease, lounging back in her chair (I'm pretty sure it was leather and had a built-in massager). As we caught up to her at the top of Baby Bear, she casually offered me a Clif Bar (did I appear piqued?), warned of the forthcoming Mama and Papa, and winked! We debated whether she sourced her strength from the asphalt (or earth...a sage?), had a hidden motor, or was just plain bad-ass. Most likely the latter. In any case, she was waaay nicer than racer clowns ridiculing Jay's HUGE rack; the old fart questioning Dave's safety triangle; or the uber-serious weekend warriors who just can't take 2 seconds to return your friendly "good morning!" with even the slightest acknowledgement! But we didn't let it sour our ride--we, like recumbent lady (or the tortoise), just kept going.
Ride Route: Begin Nabolom Bakery in Elmwood (Berkeley, Russel and College). Wind up through campus to Euclid. Short detour at the "magical place" near the Rose Garden. At top of Euclid, quick left on Grizzly Peak, right on Wildcat Canyon into Tilden Park. Stop at Inspiration Point for water, restrooms, and musing. Head down into LaMorinda, and turn left on San Pablo. Ride (into) the wind! Right on Castro Ranch, (convenient store on corner) up and over into Briones. Right onto Alhambra Valley--catch your breath. Right on Bear Valley, three bears--highly recommend overcast days or early in the morning in the heat of summer because there's NO SHADE. Water at Briones staging area. Once over the Bears, you can continue back up Wildcat Canyon back into Tilden, or turn left on San Pablo and go into Orinda for coffee. Just under Hwy 24, turn left into Orinda Village for Peets (be careful, lots of traffic coming on and off ramps). Back onto Camino Alto toward Moraga. Right on Canyon Road, head back toward Oakland Hills. Right on Pinehurst. Sharp left turn, and the grade increases significantly (triple, baby!). At the top, right on Skyline, and take any number of routes back down toward Rockridge/Berkeley. Drink beer and barbeque. Approx. 50 miles, 4 1/2 hours, a whole lotta climbing.