On the Bike

Today: A 106-mile or so ride with 10 others from the Grizzly Peak Cyclists, from Livermore (about 40 miles southeast of Berkeley), across the last range of hills (near Altamont Pass) into the Central Valley (more exactly, the San Joaquin Valley), then south to a town called Patterson, then a long and mostly very gradual climb to the into the isolated ranch country between San Jose and Livermore, then back to Livermore.

No matter how you cut it, 106 miles is a long way and means you have to spend a long time on the bike. I didn’t suffer much, except on the steepest part of the climb back west from the Valley (about a 9 percent grade that last for maybe a mile and a half; enough to make you work in any circumstances, and more painfully so when you’re not really fit and carrying more weight than you maybe ideally should. Ah, but that’s another story.

We started out just after 8. By Chicago standards, the weather was balmy; about 40. By Bay Area standards this was akin to setting out to the South Pole a la Robert Falcon Scott. But the day was mostly bright and sunny and there were even points headed up the long canyon into the hills that it felt too warm to be wearing all the cool-weather gear I had on.

I’m not really great at taking pictures of bike rides. Mostly I tend to look at landscape, and it’s almost impossible to meaningfully reproduce with my level of skill and the little camera I generally have at hand. If I had brought my camera, I would have tried to capture something of the brilliance of the day, the long visibilities, and the striking way the coastal hills front the edge of the valley. Coming from a place, Illinois, where landscape transitions are gradual and subtle when you can detect any at all, the sharp division between hills and valley always fascinates me.

Late. Tired. Bed. More on the trip, maybe, tomorrow.

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