First Ride

Sunday I remembered that I like hills. I still feel all round and the past few weeks have taken a toll on my fitness. By noon on Sunday I had my bike put together again then pedaled down the street on my first ride since moving here. I wasn’t feeling brave enough to head straight up Molino for the six mile, 1600′ climb up Mount Tam so I headed over to Camino Alto, my favorite 5-minute hill. Camino Alto feels approachable, it’s like a mountain to us flatlanders, although the locals would probably laugh at calling it that.

Not quite a mile and a half, rising a little over 300 feet, Camino Alto is do-able no matter who you are. Hell, I’ve seen little old grandmas on big heavy beach criusers with baskets pedaling smoothly up that road. I’ve also seen a mountain lion on that road. The top of this particular hill is part of the Blithdale Summit Preserve and there are often deer at dusk and dawn. One evening this August on my way back to my parents’ boat I was coming up Camino Alto from Corte Madera when I saw what I thought at first was a medium sized dog on the side of the road. When it turned and walked slowly back into the trees I could tell quite clearly it was a cat. A 50-pound cat. It confused the crap out of me. Was it a bobcat? No, this thing had a long tail. But I couldn’t think of what else it could be. There aren’t panthers and mountain lions in California are there? (Um, yes, apparently there are. Lots of them. Check this out.)

A few days ago Brian was reading the Mill Valley Herald and came across an article about pumas. I mentioned seeing a 50-pound cat on Camino Alto to my dad and he said, “No, dear, what you saw was a 100-pound cat. In East Bay people are a little worried about their pets and small children.” Oh. Well, just another reason not to live in East Bay I guess.

But I digress. A lot. Suffice it to say, I like Camino Alto so I slogged up one side, tried not to hit the brakes at all on my way down the backside then stuck to the flats around Paradise. (Ride data.) Only 1400 vertical feet in 23 miles but it felt good. I remembered that I like hills. I’m fast on hills. Oh sure, maybe not right now. But that’s just fitness. That can come and go – a few weeks on Tam and mine will return – but the piece of me that hungers for the effort, that will always be there, longing for the sweet, suffering moment when the road pitches up. I love the mountains. How could I forget?

Quick snapshot from Sunday's ride. Taken from Tiburon Blvd looking towards the Golden Gate Bridge. No mountains here.

Today was spent enrolling the children in school (with only partial success – Noah starts Wednesday but baby girl’s documents aren’t in order) and visiting with my mom, who is recovering from Thursday’s hip surgery. No riding today but I’m looking at Mount Tam the way I used to, with eager anticipation.

On the way home I stopped at Studio Velo to have someone lay eyes on the bike, make sure I put it together right. Karen, who manages the SV:Womens Store, spotted me and came outside to welcome me to Marin. Walking through the door I ran into a friend I rode with this summer, found another familiar face inside the shop and then got introduced to the mechanics in the back. I am suddenly a million times less lonely. One hello hug and I’m connected, back in my skin.

I think I’m going to love it here – but I still miss so many people back in Dallas. Come and visit me, you guys!!


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