Headed downtown this morning to view the Veterans Day Parade here in San Francisco. I had never seen the parade before, and I wanted to take it in before they stop having one. With the sparse crowd lining the route at the head of the parade, it was hard to believe thousands of people used to line the sidewalks to watch this event.
Okay. So I discovered the bike doesn’t fit in the car. Not a big deal, except I was planning a leisurely drive to the start of a 43 mile bike ride. Now I had twenty five minutes to cross the City to meet up with the group of cyclists participating in one of the AIDS/Lifecycle’s Fall Haul training rides.. I jumped on the bike and started pedaling like mad hoping to reach the Presidio Sports Basement from my Mission District apartment before the ride out. I almost did, too, but just as I turned on to Mason street, there in the distance I spied a line of riders heading north toward the bridge. Undaunted I kept at it, and on the rise before the bridge parking lot, I met up with one of the ride leaders, Angelo, who handed me a route map and welcomed me to the ride.
And what a wonderful morning for a long ride. Beautiful, clear fall skies with not a hint of wind. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, rode through Sausalito, and climbed Camino Alto from Mill Valley into Larkspur. On the climb I chatted with another ride leader, Buzz, who talked up how much fun the big ride in June is going to be. I stuck with him and another rider, Joy, as we passed through the darling towns of San Anselmo and Ross on our way to our turnaround spot in Fairfax.
Fueled up and buoyed by friendly conversation with other riders I rejoined Angelo and headed to Tiburon to tackle the Tiburon Loop. And while I’m usually content with following other riders, at one point on Paradise Drive, Angelo encouraged me to take the lead. I moved forward and led our little group up through the back end of Tiburon. At one point I marvelled at how far I’d already come on the bike as I sped through a tight turn with traffic whizzing by while casually chatting away with Angelo who stayed on my rear wheel. I know I still have a lot to learn about pacing, taking hills, and proper nutrition, but for a few moments all of my doubts and inhibitions were swept away, and I felt like a proper cyclist.
I split off from a large contingent of riders taking in the full Loop since I still had the ride home to contend with once we returned to Sports Basement. A pleasantly uneventful ride back into the City with a bit of cooling fog on the south side of the bridge, and at the end of this epic ride no cheering crowds or high-fiving volunteers. Just a lonely clipboard with a sign-in sheet marking our return.
I’ll probably do another ride or two with the Lifecycle group as long as they don’t interfere with my training for my upcoming marathon. But once I recover from CIM, it’s going to be all about the bike.