THE RIDE THAT
22 July 2002
It probably wasn't the wisest thing to do for someone who has only
recently regained her voice and who is still coughing up goey stuff from time to time. But
there I was, standing on the deck of the ferry boat, jacket safely bundled up downstairs
in my bike basket, and the chill wind from the ocean blowing through the golden gate and
right down into the depths of my lungs.
I loved it.
I don't know if I'm a terrific tour guide, or a lousey one. I'm
definitely an enthusiastic one. Whenever I take people on a tour of San Francisco, I take
more pictures than they do. So there I was, looking like the biggest tourist on the boat,
snapping picture after picture of each angle of the Golden Gate bridge as it slowly came
I wonder if the others on the boat realized that I grew up in San
Francisco and that I visit several times a month!
This was not one of those times when I was giving out of towners a
tour, however. The plan was that Haggie and I were
going to meet Judy Watt and some friends of hers on
Angel Island, the "other" island in San Francisco Bay (the better known one
being, of course, Alcatraz). We had checked out tour books and the web site and knew there
were bike trails there and we thought it would make a different kind of a biking day.
I was especially looking forward to the day because 16 years ago, we
scattered Gilbert's ashes off the shore of Angel Island. For the next ten years, on the
anniversary of his death, I had taken a ferry boat from Larkspur to San Francisco, just so
I could pass by the spot where we scattered his ashes. It was the next best thing to
visiting his grave. I always intended to go to the island itself and walk around to the
side opposite where we had moored, but this would be my first trip there since he died.
For Haggie, it was a way to bike, but not be too strenuous about it,
since she had just completed 59.6 miles of a ride from hell yesterday (do read her entry
for July 20--it's great!).
When we made plans umpty-ump weeks ago, this was going to be a
bigger group. Olivia was going to join us. Perhaps Tricia would also be able to come to
her first Boob outing as well. Maybe we could get Secra and David to come too.
Only, as the day arrived, it was just Haggie and me from the Boobs. Judy would be there with a friend who was celebrating
her 60th birthday ("look for a blonde 60-ish German woman," Judy alerted us, in
case she herself missed the first ferry).
The trip from Tiburon to Angel Island is quick--maybe 10 minutes
tops. We arrived at Ayala Cove just behind the ferry from Alameda. The gangplank came down
and the crowd on the boat packed up bikes, backpacks, picnic baskets, little red wagons,
kids, cameras, chairs, and whatever else was needed to make this a pleasant day of
picnicking away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
An older man was selling island maps for $1, but we didn't figure we
needed one. We were just going to ride round the island. We had already decided to pass up
the strenuous inner bike trail, which warned of steep hills, and would concentrate instead
on the road which, on the web site map, made a ring around the island and was promised to
be relatively flat.
We rode our bikes to the picnic area and tried to spot a blonde
60-ish woman who appeared to be looking for strangers, but did not see anybody who came
close to matching that description. We saw moms and toddlers, Oriental families,
grandparents with young children along, office groups there for an office picnic, but
nobody who came close to matching Judy's description.
I suggested that since the next boat probably wouldn't dock for
another half hour, that we take our bike ride first, then look for the group, have lunch,
and head back to Tiburon, perhaps in time to take a ride on the nice bike path we'd spied
coming into town.
Haggie checked out the visitors' center and came back with the bad
news--the hill we'd passed, with the sign that said "bike path" was, indeed, the
only bike path. There appeared to be no "flat" road, at least not here.
I gritted my teeth and vowed to make the best of it. After all, I'd
conquered the short hills in Alameda last weekend, and went over the dreaded overpass a
bit more easily this week. Perhaps I could make it up the first hill.
My gears slipped as I down...down...downshifted, trying to find any
gear that would allow me to climb the damb hill to the first stop.
"No good," Haggie said, having already reached that point.
We were already at a fork in the road. The paved road went on up ahead of us, with a sign
saying bikes were not pemitted beyond that point. An arrow pointed to the bike trail on
the left--steeper, and made of dirt. I knew I could not ride that long a steep trail, and
Haggie knew that her brand new "mortgage the house for it" road bike could not
handle the mountain bike road. We were sunk before we'd even begun.
I pointed out that the next ferry from Tiburon would be along in
about 20 minutes, and since it didn't appear that Judy's group was there (or at least not
identifiable), we might as well just take the ferry back to town and check out the nice
Which is what we did. We managed to bike about 8 miles along some
beautiful scenery--and all flat, which I loved.
We ran across the statue of a horse outstanding in his field. Nearby
was a grave. The signs were conflicting as to the details, but the horse was named Blackie
and lived for either 40 or 33 years (depending on which marker you read). He was a sway
back horse that apparently all the town children loved and he died (on this both markers
agree) in 1966. A nice little local monument that we would have missed had we been able to
bike around the island.
On the way back to the car, we stopped at a bench so I could finish
off my lunch (Haggie had eaten hers on the island). I decided we didn't need an island.
How much nicer could it be than to sit surrounded by beautiful flowers...
and looking at a lovely view.