Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why does it always gotta be an epic?

If I had a nickel for the number of times Aaron and I have asked ourselves that question mid-ride, I'd probably have at least a dollar. But, alas, we managed to insert our unprepared bodies (and minds) into that situation yesterday, on a 50 mile EPIC through northern Sonoma County. Now, don't get me wrong--it was a beautiful ride, through low-traffic, high view back roads, with a crew from Rivendell that couldn't have been better riding partners--but as we were slogging up the last 5 miles on an 18% grade at 6:30pm, maintaining that positive, grateful perspective was a challenge. That said, neither of us are particularly sore this a.m., and we're already talking about going back for seconds. Check out the photos for now, but stay tuned for a video to be posted soon! (Note: This is a loop from a private home, so if one was to drive & park, I would suggest Cazadero or somewhere along Kings Ridge)
Start--mile 4.5, Meyers Grade Road, between Jenner and Fort Ross. Mellow rollers at the top of a ridge. Views of the Pacific, redwoods, and hills to the East. Meyers Grade becomes Fort Ross Rd for a short stint, then Fort Ross turns West toward the coast, and the straight road becomes Seaview. The rollers become more, well, rolling now, longer and steeper. The road changes names one more time (Hauser Bridge) and descends down to what I think is Cazadero Creek, or some other tributary of the Russian River. At this point, the climb begins in earnest, and at the next T, turn right to continue on Kings Ridge Road. Wow. The kind of road cyclists dream about. Almost no traffic, winding between two valleys, with views of Mt. Saint Helena, and quiet farmlands. We paused at the top to take a few photos, and for Vaughn to terrorize some poor cows. Don't be alarmed--they had their revenge in the form of an intimidating "mama" cow who stood her ground and threatened to charge, and, later, a herd that broke out of their pasture and ran along the road for 1/4 mile, forcing us to stop and watch! Kings Ridge eventually decends steeply to Cazadero, in a forest of redwoods. We stopped in Cazadero at the General Store for fuel, then proceeded up the final climb on Fort Ross Road. I'm estimating, but the grade was 10-18% for almost 5 miles, with one short break in the middle. I reminded myself not to pray for a change of my circumstances, but the strength to deal with them (thanks Daya Mata!)--I believe it worked, because somehow, I found some adrenaline in the last mile and sped up (well, probably from 5 mph to 8 mph, for perspective!) to Meyers Grade, where we completed the loop. Total riding time: 4 hours 15 minutes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Alternative Energy

I'm happy to report that the cycling resilience I've built up over the years paid off today, during what was probably the most windy ride I've ever experienced. I actually had to dismount and push my bike up the trail, the crosswinds were so powerful! I kept reminding myself of the descents on our tour up the California coast, headed into a northeast wind that made my dinky aluminum Klein with 25 lbs. of gear on the back jerk and shimmy--and yet, I didn't crash once. If only I could tap into that historical knowledge (and muscle memory) in other, more critical areas of my life...maybe too much personal detail for a cycling blog, eh?

In any case, I was reminded of a quote I recently read in the much-beloved Mother Jones magazine, in which a not-so-bright GOP representative attempting to discredit various non-foreign-oil/non-fossil fuel-based energy alternatives commented that wind is a finite resource (since when???) and if we run out of wind, won't that make the temperature go up anyway? Ummm...if that's the case, then Mother Nature must have expended all her wind "stores" today, and my next ride across the bridge should be a piece of cake.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Resolutions and Mantras

"Just keep peddling", I repeat to myself climbing up the rocky east face of Mt. Tamalpais, because if I don't, I'm liable to tip over. I'm not really thinking about anything else except the line I'm steering my front wheel on, up the Old Railroad Grade just out of Mill Valley. It's a route I'm familiar with, but after taking more than a few months off from riding at this intensity, I need the reminder that if I stop peddling over the dips, divvies, bumps, rocks, roots, and other debris, I'll lose momentum and fall off the Bleriot. The day was really bucolic (overused word, but not in my blog yet)--mid 60's, sunny with fog and clouds in the valley and at the coast, windy in the way that it sounds like traffic through the trees--and in order to blanch the blues from having to return to work after 2 weeks off, I decided to head out on an epic. Now that we live in the city (SF), the quiet and the wooded smell and the green-ness of Marin is ached for--but only accessible by crossing over the chaos that is the Golden Gate Bridge. I guess I could have picked a better time than Sunday afternoon.

Four and a half hours later, I've solidified my resolutions for 2010. It's been 10 years since graduating from college (omg) and I still don't own a house, have a kid, or feel settled or "mature" in any way--despite the fact that I'm beginning to be addressed as "maam" just as much as "miss" these days. But what I DO have is spectacular--a healthy, honest, humor-filled relationship; a job that makes a difference in the world, goddammit; enough money to blow $100 on a mediocre meal and feel only slightly guilty about it (okay, so maybe that last statement is a bit of a lie--several resolutions deal with saving more money and spending less frivolously)--and the most important resolution resulting from this ride is to be GRATEFUL. It's amazingly easy to get caught up in complaints, wishes, desires, ifs...but while I certainly don't expect to be a zen master by 2011, I do believe I can remind myself to show love, compassion, and gratefulness to myself and others at least once a day. Just keep peddling.