Sunday, March 01, 2015

Another Year's Orbit 

I don't care for the “selfie” genre but this accomplishment seemed to call for it.

Today I completed a couple of trips. One around the sun and another around San Francisco Bay. I’m westward in California for work this week. Going west seems like putting off the inevitable by delaying my celestial loop by three hours. As a little gift to myself I rented a bike and rode north of the city through Mill Valley (dying to use a MILF Valley pun somewhere) up to Mount Tamalpais (Mt. Tam to locals where it is a mountain biker Mecca), then down through Muir Woods and back through Sausalito to San Francisco. It wasn’t a long ride at around 65 KM but full of steep climbs and wild chicanes. Every time I glanced at my heart rate it was well into the 150s or 160s and I limped back through Canary Wharf with a cramped thigh and pretty well spent. My legs were fried on the climbs with even my triceps strained from pulling hard on the handlebars. Even my hands were sore from squeezing the brake levers to keep my speed to something controllable as I zig-zagged descents like an alpine skier. I never would’ve made the original 90 KM I had planned on doing. Despite my completely inadequate fitness I pushed on and it was one of the most satisfying and beautiful rides I’ve ever been on.

In some odd way, it made me think of my father. Not just how different we were but also how similar. I would have been 12 or 13 when my dad was the age I am now so I remember him vividly from that time. I’m certainly thinner and fitter than he was but I’m more vain too. What I wouldn’t do for a fuller head of hair like he had. If he ever had a thought about clothes, they were definitely wrong. But today I think I behaved as he would have. Stubbornly persistent and maybe even showing a bit of toughness. The only thing that got me through that ride today was determination. How many other riders passed me? Easily, I might add. Or how many asked where I had gone and said, “That’s a nice ride – with some decent climbs.” Decent? Ugh. I will add that for the most part I did not use my GPS-enabled smartphone for navigation but simply followed Dirk Gently's Zen Navigation and followed cyclists who looked like they knew where they were going. You won't end up where you were intending on going but you'll often wind up somewhere you needed to be. This led to my meeting two older guys at a 7-11 quaffing energy drinks and bananas. It turns out they lived in Berkley but were from Boston originally where they "didn't miss having 8-f**king-feet of snow." At least the mechanic at the bike shop where I rented my bike seemed mildly impressed, saying simply, “Dood… that’s a good ride, my man.” I suppose my comportment did not indicate someone set to tackle a “decent climb”.

It's remarkable what phones can do these days - though capturing this vista of the Yerba Buena Gardens and Center at night isn't one of them. The coloured lights were like a gaudy stage set beneath a turbulent early evening sky.

A benefit of a 1400-Cal workout is you can fully justify a 1400-Cal meal afterward. I had intended to go to a Mexican restaurant near Yerba Buena Gardens but it had a huge queue and I was red-lining pretty fast. Instead I went to some posh burger place which in true California fashion required a pager to let you know when your order was ready. Admittedly it was better than I had expected and they had these great in-house pickles but alas no cake. There should always be cake. So it was I was left to buy a brownie from a nearby Starbucks and retire to my room to contemplate another year’s orbit – I was so close to typing “obit” there but I’ll happily leave that for another time in the faraway future I hope.

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