Sunday, November 30, 2008

Egrets, I've seen a few

It was foggy Saturday morning when I headed out toward Sausalito and our buddy ride. I had intended to go for a (flatter) (closer) ride and didn't decide to join the Team until 6:45 am. That gave me 1 hour and 15 minutes to put my bike and all cycling stuff in my car, turn on my computer and print out directions, drink a sip of my coffee and grab an energy bar instead of the planned oatmeal and drive very quickly to the North Bay. My directions said the ride would take 59 minutes without traffic. We were meeting at 8:00, rolling by 8:30.

The no-traffic thing worked like a dream; it was early enough on a Saturday morning, even a holiday Saturday morning, that the freeways weren't crowded. Unfortunately there was intermittent thick fog on the roadway making it incredibly dangerous to go the speed limit, let alone faster (which I would never do, of course, since that would mean breaking the law) (at least I'd never admit in writing to breaking the law). There were people weaving in and out of the slower cars at what must have been at least 85 mph but I cruised carefully along between 55 and 75 65, depending on the fog.

The directions were correct, 59 minutes on the nose when I exited the freeway. Unfortunately that was also when I got lost. I don't know what it is with me and Tiburon and Sausalito, but I've never gone there without getting lost. I've gone there many times for our long runs and each time I manage to find a different way to go the wrong way. Luckily I realized quickly I wasn't in the right place and I pulled over and took out my handy dandy iPhone, located where I was and where I should be, and turned around to go back the way I came. Without that phone I'm pretty sure I'd still be driving around looking for our meeting point. As it was, I arrived just in time to get my bike out and be ready before it was time to roll.

A couple dozen people were at the ride, the rest of the team apparently still in food comas from Thanksgiving. We were supposed to ride the Paradise Loop but we didn't have maps. We were going to break into a group that was going to ride the hilly Loop for about 35 miles and a group that was going to ride a flatter route, about 25 miles. While I wanted to ride the hills I was afraid that I'd be too slow to keep up with the group. We headed out along the trail and it seemed that almost everyone was doing the hills.

We all cycled out the same direction but at the first hill we split into groups. Yes, I was in the back group. There were, I think, 6 of us of similar speed and hill climbing capability; some of us were a little faster, some of us a little slower, but all with the same relative talents.

I ended up being very pleased that I got to go on this ride. They may call it Paradise Loop but I started thinking of it as the 3 Bridges Route. Depending on which hill we were on we could see the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge, the Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge. Have I mentioned lately how incredibly lucky I feel to live in this gorgeous area? The views were breathtaking and I don't think it was just hypoxia from the steep hills. Looking down at coves, across the Bay (when the fog lifted enough to see), up greening hillsides. Well tended (high priced) homes, roads filled with cyclists and runners, the first poppies. The air and the water were filled with birds, most of which I couldn't identify because I was moving so fast. At least on the downhill parts. It was hard work but spectacular. Well worth the 2-1/2 hours it took me to drive there and back. Which was about 20 minutes longer than I spent cycling.
We finished with just under 25 miles and I felt I had a great workout. The elevation shows the first endless hill and the other smaller hills. I think I used each and every one of my gears and I realized that my old bike, while having about half the number of gears of the new bike, had lower gears that helped me on the steepest hills. I did make it up all of the hills without stopping but I was working really hard. I certainly don't want to start changing gears on my new bike so I'll have to see how it goes when we get into the hilly 50+ milers. Hopefully my mad hill skilz will improve enough that it won't be an issue. Otherwise I'll hie back to ye ol' bike shoppe and see what I can do.

Sunday morning was even foggier and cooler. I met Bree, Anita and our very special visitor Mary Ann at the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. After a slow start we ran 6 good miles, chatting and yakking the entire run. By keeping the run short we all felt good when we finished. Although I think we all warmed up, I still had my gloves and my ear warmer on when we finished. I was surprised to see that it was still under 50 degrees when we got back in our cars. We were reluctant to separate so we made a stop at the local coffee shop and continued our talks.

My weekend was rounded out by the usual house tasks, some yard work and a lot of time both days with my mom. I also finished my latest pair of fingerless mitts and then got a good start on knitting my newest hat, a spiral rib made with some of my precious Cider Moon stash. It's their Glacier in Paintbox, a superwash Merino in lively bright colors.

It was a great weekend, despite my usual lack of sleep and a nagging headache I've had for over a week. Friends, family, riding and running, knitting. November ended very well!

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