15 July 2002
You've heard of "Afternoon of a Faun"? Today was "Afternoon of the
Haggie and I met at Starbucks in Alameda for the start of our ride. Here
she is in her fancy new clip-on shoes (great for tap dancing on concrete, but not for
sliding across linoleum. Don't ask.) and her fancy racing helmet. Show off. Just because
she can pick up her fancy new bike with one finger while I need two hands and a lot of
huffing and puffing to pick up mine.
But I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah--the bike ride.
We rode in one direction from Starbucks over the very nice bike bridge to Bay Farm
Island. The bike bridge parallels the regular bridge (which is a bridge leading from one
island to the other!). But only tricky thing is that you have to make a sharp u-turn
before getting on the bike bridge, which means that you are essentially starting an uphill
from a dead stop. I. pedaled. up. without. downshifting. A-hem!!! Maybe I'm
improving after all.
On the other side of the road, we made a sharp right and onto the bike path and
discovered a whole new world. I had ridden
on Bay Farm Island with Olivia before, but we had followed the lovely canal that cuts
through the center of the island. Haggie and I did the perimeter of the island, which goes
all around, about 10 miles from Starbucks back to Starbucks again.
The outer bike lane parallels the bay for most of the way and is just lovely.
But it was at about this spot where we discovered that the place was riddled with
suicidal squirrels. These little guys would dart out from one side of the road and run
across to the other side just ahead of the bike. (Why did the squirrel cross the road?
Apparently because he had a death wish!) At one point I looked off into the distance and
it looked like a squirrel feeding trough. All the squirrels were facing to the left and
lined up one right after the other, each looking through the grass. As they heard the
bikes approach, one by one they turned and ran off into the other direction, directly in
the path of the bike. Most of them weren't really a problem, but one guy kind of misjudged
his distance and Haggie nearly hit him (that's when she stopped to tell me about her ride
leader on the "real" bike rides she does with more "serious" bikers,
where the leader actually hit a squirrel and it got caught in the spokes of her tires and
not only was not very good for the squirrel, but also flipped the rider over the
handlebars of her bike!)
However, we finally passed out of Squirrel Hollow and into the backside of Bay
Farm Island and back to the bridge from when we had come, making a full circle.
We had now been out about an hour and a half and had worked up a hunger, so we headed
back to Starbucks and Noah's Bagels. Haggie had herself a breakfast bagel with all sorts
of stuff on it--the very sound of it made my newly cleansed arteries choke up. Being the
health-conscious jockette that we all know I am, I settled for water, and a power bar or
two. Good Bev.
Our bodies restored, we then headed off in the other direction to the Naval Air Base.
This was the very first place I ever went on my very first official bike ride. I
remember when Olivia and I got back to the car that day, we then went to drive the route
we had just ridden (this being in the blissful days when we thought that all you needed to
become a bike rider was a bike. The days before odometers and baskets and gel insert
gloves and power bars and padded biking shorts and special jerseys and camel backs.) I was
absolutely thrilled to realize I had just ridden four whole miles--more than I'd moved in
most of my adult life. Today, we got to the base at about mile 18 and I hardly even
noticed we'd been riding that long.
We rode all over the base. Sometimes riding on this nearly-deserted base is
like riding through a ghost town. This was once a very active Naval Air Station with a
complement of over 18,000 military personnel. It was closed in 1997 and though a few
companies have rented some of the huge old buildings and the aircraft carrier Hornet is
berthed there (as a museum), most of the base is deserted, with once bustling buildings
standing empty and unkempt. But it's the perfect place to ride a bike without encountering
many cars at all.
By the time we finally had explored most of the base and returned to Starbucks (and
stopped at Subway to pick up a sandwich for lunch), we had ridden just a bit shy of 25
miles. It was not a strenuous ride by any stretch of the imagination (as Haggie describes
it, "a nice toodle."). But the weather was pleasant, the scenery lovely, and the
company, as always, much fun.
Best of all, look how much weight I lost during the course of the day....