25 March 2002
The "First Bike Ride" has officially taken place. (Note the cool
biking gloves!) I should just link to the page of Secra's first ride, because today was
remarkably similar. It will be hard not to sound like I'm repeating what she wrote almost
a year ago. But honestly, this is my own story!
The first thing to learn today was how to Attach The Bike Rack to the Car. Walt was off
at Mass, and I decided I am Woman. I can do this unaided! And I did. Managed to get
it attached to the car, and the bike up on it and tied more knots than a Boy Scout trying
to get a badge. This baby wasn't going anywhere.
By the time I was ready to leave, Walt came back from Mass and checked the job I'd
done, started loosening and tightening for another 15 minutes or so. But finally I was
pronounced freeway worthy and I headed off. I was convinced that this would be the first
time in my life I'd be rear-ended and that the life of my Silver chariot would come to an
But no. I made the drive to Olivia's house safely. We loaded her bike onto my bike rack
(I was amazed at how casually she tied the knots and seemed unconcerned that the bike
might go flying off of its own accord).
Our first stop was across the street at Safeway, where Olivia picked up lunches for the
two of us and then we were off on our first adventure.
The Alameda Naval Air Base is for all intents and purposes uninhabited. Lots of wide
open spaces to practice in and learn to feel comfortable on a bike. It's also the parking
place for several naval ships, including the retired air craft carrier, the USS Hornet (now a museum)
The weather could not have been more perfect. The rain of the past two days had left
the air crystal clear, there were lovely fluffy cumulus clouds floating overhead, the air
was not too warm, not too cool. We needed jackets, but it was decidedly comfortable.
We parked the car in a deserted parking lot just beyond the deserted entry gate of the
base. The whole base stretched out before me. "Go where you want," Olivia
instructed. We decided to start by cycling down to the Hornet, which we did. I became more
comfortable with what I was doing, though I had a moment of panic when my tire ended up
slipping into the groove of a metal track and I was sure I was going to topple over, but I
managed to get it out again with minimal wobble.
By the time we got to the Hornet's pier, I was comfortable enough to steer the bike
between a toddler wandering off in one direction, and a grandmother backing up to take a
photo of someone on the ship itself. I didn't hit either. I was feeling very good about
At the end of the pier is a breathtaking view of San Francisco. Even though I was born
and raised in the city, the sight of it on a clear day never fails to take my breath away.
Standing there between the Hornet and the city with a warm breeze blowing and our bikes
parked by the fence--it didn't get any better than this.
There is a picnic table at the end of the pier, so we brought out our lunches and sat
there watching the sparkle of the water and the seagulls gliding gracefully overhead.
With lunch finished, it was time to hop on our bikes again and ride to the opposite end
of the base. While it's no training ground for doing city biking, it was definitely a good
experience, learning to stay upright, learning to turn, learning to brake. Only one
heart-stopping moment, when an AC Transit bus coming in the opposite direction passed
right next to me and at the same time hit something metallic so that there was a huge
"crunch" sound. I discovered I can jump and pedal at the same time.
It was a lovely ride, past the line of ships, the bay, the deserted warehouses, fields
of flowers, the port for the Alameda ferry, a beautiful park... Such a lovely day.
We finally made the full loop of the base and Olivia's hands were bothering her (she
powdered her elbow in a bike accident a year ago and the fact that she's even on a
bike again is pretty miraculous), so we returned to the car.
When we had the bikes loaded back up, we drove the route we had just biked and while it
wasn't quite the 6½ miles that Terri and David did on their first ride, we figure we had
biked about 4 miles and decided that was a decent start.
I can hardly wait for our next ride!