Sunday, March 23, 2008

Californication, Part II

I left Redding early Thursday morning for a drive down for San Francisco where my conference was. I'd never been to California before, much less San Fran, so I was pretty excited. I did make one mistake: I booked a hotel on Fisherman's Wharf, which turns out to be a strip of tourist-related activities, the majority of which I had no interest in. However, I did spot a few bike rental places that advertised the chance to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. I was intrigued, but professional duties kept me tied up for the next couple of days.

I was able to break free on Saturday afternoon and dropped by Bay City Bike for a ride. They outfitted me with a Giant Ranier: nothing fancy, but a serviceable hardtail that seemed more than enough for my needs. Faced with fading light and plenty of adrenaline, I sprinted to the Golden Gate Bridge and then into the Marin headlands.

I really can't say enough about how great this ride was: I started with a long climb on the road up to a WWII battery, then I looped back around for a long singletrack downhill, through a valley and then a long fire road climb. I dipped through some stables, then back up and over a ridge, down to a lagoon to watch some surfers, then up and over the hill and back to the bridge.

I know that doesn't make too much sense, so just look at the pictures, OK?

Starting out:

The view over the ocean to the northwest:

The trusty steed looking west toward the far side of the Bay. Notice the super-fly bag in the front for necessaries. Yes, it looked really silly, and tended to bounce around a little on the downhills, but it was convenient for grabbing the camera and taking quick shots without even getting off of the bike. I'm not sure if I'm ready to put one on the Ferrous, being as how it's fred-tastic and all, but it did make me think how I'd like a more quick-draw pouch for my camera. The bag did clearly ID me as a tourist, though, which I suppose also served to tell people to get out of my way.

The stables, just kickin' it with some peeps:

Down in the valley:

Doesn't this look like a classic California shot? (It actually reminds me of The Goonies.)

The sun is setting at my back, so it's time to put the jets on and head back to...

The Bridge, from the Marin headlands:

I hope the pictures give a description of the ride that I can't. I was amazed at the amount of climbing that was involved: while Google Earth only shows around 1000 ft. of total change, I felt like I did that over and over again. Again, I've got no idea how far I went, but I was out for just under four hours and was totally worked at the end of it.

One thing that I developed a new appreciation for while in California -- and especially on this ride -- were gears. Not only did I use the little ring on this bad boy, I used it on the road climb. I'll admit to not being in the greatest shape, but I thought that my SSing had turned me into a decent climber. Alas, if I were to move to California I would have to revise that assessment. I don't think that I embarrassed myself -- or Bull City Cycling -- out there, but neither was I ascending the hills on wings of angels. Clearly I need to do a little more of the B-Swad training plan before I rest on my climbing laurels.

In short, California is just as beautiful as everyone says it is, and those kids can climb.

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