Sunday, August 12, 2007

15,000 Words

I keep meaning to tell more stories, and I keep finding other things to do.

I can at least share the route.

And I have to brag on the profile too:

Think it’s uphill?

It’s usually hard to get a picture of a road that really shows how steep it is. Having someone huffing and puffing their way up it at least gives a first clue.

Also check out the flatlands in the distance. That’s where we started.

See that ridge in the distance? In a minute, you’ll see pictures taken from there.

Excellent spot to stop and take a picture.

Excellent spot to stop. To take a picture, or whatever. But to stop.

The bike is tired, so it’s lying down.

It’s two-tired to go on.

Enjoy the mist in the distant hills.

The ordained route went over the hills and down to Pescadero, by the coast. After one climb up to this ridge, I knew my legs didn’t have the oomph to make it back up to the same elevation a second time. (You can always do it, but you learn to judge how long it’ll take and whether it’s worth how you’ll feel afterward.)

So rather than riding down to the coast just to have to ride back up and over the hill to get back to where we started, I turned right here and rode along the ridge to meet up with the route where it crossed the crest again. Live to fight another day.

I felt a tiny bit bad about it, because I had been looking forward to the new roads, new routes and new vistas. On the other hand, the route I took was also new to me. I saved myself 2,500 feet of climbing, but I still had 1,000 feet before I was done. Mostly I felt very good about my decision, because it meant I’d still be walking at the end of the day.

Another reason to feel good about it, one I didn’t know about till two miles from the end of the ride: A patch on my rear tire was getting ready to spring a leak. Two miles from the end of the route, a rear flat was no problem. Going flat on an uphill would have been a real chore. Flatting on a hairpin downhill as steep as a closet wall could have been a disaster.

The flatlands in the near distance are where the ride had started. In the far distance, over the clouds, Mount Diablo reigns over San Francisco Bay on a clear day.

Somewhere down there, on the right, is the spot where I stopped and took a picture uphill that showed the ridge I’m on now.

Everyone has weaknesses. One of my regular sins is panorama shots. Digital cameras make the temptation too easy to succumb to.

Over the tree-lined ridge, on the flat in the distance, are the big old World War II blimp hangars of Moffett Field. I grew up with P-3 Orion sub hunters flying over our back yard, an everyday flight path. Ames Research Center, at Moffett, had the world’s largest wind tunnel, used for testing new aircraft designs. Moffett got decommissioned as a Naval Air Station, but it still gets used by different groups. Last I heard, the wind tunnel is about to be expanded.

Zooming along Skyline Boulevard, darting through cool patches of shade in the thick of redwood groves, I also chanced upon a couple of deer crossing the road. Every route has its surprise pleasures.

A seaward peek. I would have been riding uphill from down there if I’d followed the official route.

Looks nice, but I’m not sorry.

Alice’s, at Skylonda, is a famous Harley hangout.

King’s Mountain Road was about four feet wide, with car traffic legal in both directions. Every twenty feet or so came the next hairpin turn; my arms and shoulders were tired by the bottom from all the steering. You can’t hear cars coming from behind, because the wind is in your ears, but you’re probably outrunning them anyhow, with all the sharp steep turns.

I stopped here (I’m a horrible bike rider—no proper cyclist wastes momentum on a downhill to stop and take a picture) and was amazed at how still and remote this canyon was. All I heard was a little wind tossing high boughs in the trees, and a bird crying off in the distance. No rush, no bustle, no cars, no city traffic or noise. And then, coming around the bend, the wheezing and panting of one of the poor guys trying to ride this road in the other direction, red-faced and sweaty.

I felt bad for him, but I saddled up and headed back down to where I was going.


Papa Bradstein said...

There's a paragraph on the back of each one, right? Because they appear to be missing their circles and arrows.

CaliforniaGirl said...

Of course he marked the dates and times and locations on the back just like his mother taught him. He probably wrote down what Alice cooked him too.