THE BACK DOOR
7 April 2002
Just about a year ago (well, eleven months ago), we were on a boat cruising up the
Thames from London to Oxford. It was a leisurely trip and we had time to enjoy the flora
and fauna, watch the swans gliding by, enjoy the fields of buttercup yellow, occasionally
pass another boat and wave a cheery greeting to its occupants.
When we reached Oxford, we returned to London by train. On that return trip, we zipped
through many same towns through which we had glided on our 8 day river trip, and I
marveled at how different the towns looked from the "business end." We saw the
industrial side, the work-a-day world, people hurrying on about their business.
Occasionally we would cross over the river and off in the distance I could see another
boat slowly meandering up or down river and I missed the slower pace, the chance to see
life from the other side.
That's kind of how I've felt in the last two days. I'm discovering that biking is like
stepping into a whole new world.
On Friday, Olivia came here to Davis.
This is, after all, the "city of bicycles" and it seemed a good place to do some
biking. I knew that near our house was a greenbelt--I had passed it many times in the
nearly 30 years we have lived here. I thought perhaps we could do some biking along the
greenbelt, away from the traffic. In truth, I didn't know where it went or if there was
enough area to really make it worth our while. I did some driving around to investigate
the day before, but you couldn't get to most of the greenbelt area, only to the edges.
And so we set off to explore. What I discovered, as we eased our bikes onto the bike
path, was that there was a whole other side to Davis that I never dreamed existed. Not
only was there enough area for us to get in a good ride, there was more than enough and we
ended up leaving the path before we had made a full circle because I wasn't entirely sure
where I was, we had already been out for a hour and I was not sure how long it would take
us to get back home from where we were.
It was a delightful ride. It was sunny, with a hint of a breeze to keep us cool. The
trail wound around lovely parks and past beautiful homes. The smell of the spring flowers
was everywhere. We discovered interesting sculptures and even a duck pond I had no clue
existed. I even took a deep breath, downshifted, and made it up my first hill. OK--so it
was a tiny hill and the angle wasn't very steep--but I did it.
The day could not have been more lovely--or more perfect for us to continue the newbie
phase of bicycle riding.
Then today, I drove to Walnut Creek to meet Haggie. Olivia was unable to join us, so
we were on our own. We met at a park with a very nice bike trail that was mostly flat (we
won't talk about that damn bridge). The path was full of walkers, bikers, dogs, kids, etc.
It gave us plenty of opportunity to practice control of our bikes and to learn to call out
"On your left!" as we passed slower travelers. We rode along a drainage canal
and off way to hell and gone to a street that was almost like a mini freeway, where the
bike trail seemed to go on forever. By this time we'd been out an hour, so I suggested
that since it would take us another hour to get back, that we turn around, which we
did. On the way back, Haggie nearly wiped out a blind woman and her dog but, as I
told her, at least the woman couldn't see the look of stark terror on Haggie's face as she
swerved to miss her. (My own look of terror had come a few minutes earlier as I
nearly ploughed into a fence, and then when I was trying to cross a very busy thoroughfare
and couldn't get the bike into gear. as I watched the approaching line of traffic headed
in my direction.)
On our way back, we stopped at a park for lunch and Haggie took some movies (which, if
I can ever get them loaded somewhere, I will try to link to--nothing spectacular, but it
adds another interesting note to this journal!)
When we got back to the path to the parking lot, we decided we
weren't quite ready to call it quits, so we pedaled off in the other direction to the end
of the footpath. The weather was glorious and we were biking under the watchful gaze of
Mt. Diablo off in the distance. We rode along the canal to the end of this
portion of the trail, and then stood there looking at the mountain, talking about what an
nice day it had been, while Haggie diddled her seat. (uh...that would be her bicycle
By the time we finally returned to the cars, we both were suffering from spaghetti leg,
and the sight of our two vehicles off in the distance was a most welcome one. I just
received an e-mail from Haggie telling me that she checked the bike path map and near as
she can tell, we biked 12 miles today.
According to her journal, "For you locals, we met at Heather Farm Park and
took the Contra Costa Canal Trail
to the Iron Horse Trail. We rode
that through Walnut Creek to the Rudgear exit at 680. We turned around there and retraced
our route back to the Canal Trail, where we rode up to Oak Grove Rd before turning around
and going back to Heather Farm Park. According to the map, we went around 12 miles.
My knees know it. My back knows it, and the pink in my face tells me that I was out in the
sun for a long time. But the whole day was just absolutely perfect. I can hardly wait to
do it all again.