I don’t really think of myself as an adrenaline junkie, but the way I’m beaming at the moment may be betraying me. I just got back from a mountain bike ride. It was amazing (or if you’re reading this from the UK, it was brilliant. Or if you’re reading this on teh inter webz, it was teh awesome)!
The girls are away, there are trails nearby that I’ve only begun to explore, I had no plans for the day, and because it’s California, the weather was simply perfect. So, I cycled out to [I don’t really think of myself as an adrenaline junkie, but the way I’m beaming at the moment may be betraying me. I just got back from a mountain bike ride. It was amazing (or if you’re reading this from the UK, it was brilliant. Or if you’re reading this on teh inter webz, it was teh awesome)!
The girls are away, there are trails nearby that I’ve only begun to explore, I had no plans for the day, and because it’s California, the weather was simply perfect. So, I cycled out to]1 (just 2 miles away!) and then set out along the trails. There was a path that I’d started to explore earlier, but had turned around before I got too far due to time constraints, and I wanted to see where it went. Beyond that, I’d not looked at the map, I had not planned a route, I was just going exploring because I had all day.
I headed up Wildcat Creek Trail and then over to Haney Canyon Trail. Most of this was gradual climb. Some steep, some descent, but mostly up. To be fair, I’m not in the best shape currently so nearly anything looks like “up”. I followed the trail through the woods. The further I got, the fewer people I started to see, such that on the Haney Canyon trail, I only saw two hikers (OK, 3, but one was in a baby bjorn and may have been asleep). Already, I’m a pretty happy camper as I’m out in the woods, getting exercise and cycling. I come to a section of the trail that drops into a small ravine where some tributary to Wildcat Creek runs which was simply too steep and technical for me to navigate on my bicycle. Just on the other side, I come to the first of several gates. I had been avoiding gates before. I just wasn’t sure whether it was OK to go through gated paths. But this path clearly went nowhere else, so I followed it through and kept going.
Eventually, it broke out into grassy hillside and climbed along to another paved-but-not-vehicular-accessible road which turned out to be Nimitz way. I wasn’t ready to head back yet, so I kept going up, though at this point it was flatter as I was mostly riding along the ridge top. Up here on Nimitz way, I started to see people again — mostly joggers. It was a pleasant ride in itself — the San Pablo reservoir down to my left, the tree-lined hillside I’d just climbed down to the right. But I was just starting to worry about where I might end up when the trail split. I took the unpaved, uphill one (Conlon trail, if you’re following along on the map), which after climbing around a large tree emptied out onto a simply gorgeous view of the Bay. I could see Oakland, the Bay bridge, Treasure Island, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, just a whole panorama. It was amazing.
I took a moment to rest at the bench there and just absorb the view. I parked my bike at the bench, walked to the fence and stared in wonder at the beauty. As I turned around, I saw another cyclist ride up to the bench. He came off his saddle, but didn’t fully dismount, took a sip from his Camelbak, grunted a greeting and turned and rode on. “What’s his hurry?” I thought, failing to understand how he could gawk so briefly at the view.
Then I found out. After the next gate, the trail got briefly rolling after starting with a pretty steep descent. There were cows grazing in this part and the trail cut between a herd that didn’t seem to mind me wizzing past. And then it got better. Steeper, curvier and I started flying along. The bumps hitting me at jackhammer speeds as I flew down the mountain sides. Skittering through turns which I’d have gone flying off cliff-sides had I not checked my speed just enough. On the breaks as little as possible trying to balance between braking traction and turning traction. Living in that zone where you’re not completely out of control, but certainly no longer fully in it either, hurtling down the mountain side at easily 30 MPH finally as the gate at the bottom approaches as firm on the front brakes as I dare while taking the back break just in and out of a skid. OH MAN THAT WAS FUN! And it had the decency to drop me right back where I’d peeled off for the Haney trail in the first place — just had to go through that gate!
I couldn’t keep the bugs out of my teeth on the next four miles home, I was grinning so broadly. So, somewhere in the 12-15 mile range total, and what a blast! Of course, the whole time I was trying to not go all out. I’ve gotta save at least a little bit for tomorrow when I’m going windsurfing!