Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Crossing the seam

On the right, Inverness Ridge. On the left, a rare flat section of Highway 1. In the middle, Tomales Bay.

Under the bay? The San Andreas Fault. Sometimes the most important things are hidden.

Highway 1 mostly stays in North America. But in a few places the plate boundary and the coastline mix it up. At the steep rollers near Manchester the road crosses over to the Pacific plate. Same thing at Jenner Slide and the smaller rollers at Bodega Bay. The Pacific and North American plates relentlessly push against each other. Their squabbles are crumpling the earth.

The land deforms in convenient ways too. When the plates pull apart they can leave a shallow linear depression. That might then fill with water. The flat edge might seem like a natural place to build a road.

These few miles of Highway 1 are usually a break from the constant up and down. Easy and relaxing, a place to enjoy the scenery of Point Reyes. Today they are an unwelcome struggle into a cold blustery wind from the south. The fog lifts, revealing a thick layer of grey clouds. Feels like the leading edge of a storm.

Whatever, it's hard work. At 12 mph Point Reyes Station might as well be the moon. Like running underwater. Faster than the movement of the plates, but not much.

It's not just the wind. My body has caught on to  300+ miles in the past 3 days. A good run but now it's over. Drowsy, did not sleep well last night. Already contemplating a nap.

Not much relief in heading inland toward Petaluma. Trees by the road are tossing wildly. It takes the better part of an hour to find shelter, in the forest on Nicasio Hill. At the top, the first blue sky of the day.

Climbing White's Hill a couple of women in racing kit pass. They're a little faster but not a lot. That makes me feel better. I decide to keep them in sight on the hill, that's the game. The road curves at the summit, and I see them crest and go down. Then I do the same. The last hill of the trip.

Stop of the Moment...

Today I'm not a racer or even a randonneur. Just a tourist. No matter how late it is, no matter the consequences, I need a stop in Fairfax. Right at the bottom of the hill a Fat Angel takes me under her wing...

Mike Martin, a barber who seems to know everyone, walks by the bakery. He asks about my trip. Oh, he knows exactly where Trinidad is. Spent a few weeks there after the Vietnam War. Loved Patrick's Point and Agate Beach. Always wanted to travel Highway 1. He looks so clean it makes me want to get home and do laundry.

The air is still chilly but the bakery is a haven of warmth. After a tough morning, a good place to check in with Danny, let him know I'm alive. And evaluate options for getting home. 

This is mile 34. I hear Jim B. in my head saying 'Tomales is way out there'. He would be able to pick the best option.

25 miles from Fairfax to the Golden Gate. Then at least 60 through the city and a slog of suburbs. The detour at Crystal Springs, while the state takes 5 years to build a bridge. The 9-mile wind tunnel on Canada Road. Wind possibly in my face the entire time. Two hours of night riding.

Or, 15 miles to the Sausalito ferry. Ride to the train. Call it a day.

Or, 25 miles over the Golden Gate bridge and through the city to the train.

Well the ferry would just be cheating. 

But the bridge, the bridge is a real challenge. Should not be, but is. Since the accident and many double espressos, bridges have become a serious phobia. A fault existing only in my head, nowhere else. I freak out and literally need the help of friends to get across. Think of a horse that won't go in the horse trailer. Cajoling and walking backwards and wearing a hood. Panicking over a simple thing. 

Maybe I could get myself across the Golden Gate Bridge. Solo.

A science experiment. A showdown with the medical folks who are a little too happy to label me broken. According to me, caffeine is the culprit. I'm absurdly sensitive to it. Took it to function at my job. Sure, lots of coffee happened this week but most of it has burned off.

According to them caffeine is not a real drug, so it must be PTSD. In which case I'm unreliable about pretty much everything, including TBI symptoms. Oh, and take this pill.

Time to get on with it. The weather is a lot better here. The cold headwind, grey clouds, they're gone. It's warming up. The bridge lurks at the boundary of my thoughts the whole way through the Marin bike towns, along the Sausalito bike path. I refuse to give it center stage or get spooked. 

Pause at the Vista Point for a couple of ibuprofen (makes me sleepy, don't know why) and half a sandwich. Tough to panic on a full stomach. Here we go.

This time of day bikes use the east walkway, which helps. It helps to look at Alcatraz, not the open ocean. It helps that the weather is kind, no gale force winds. Pedestrians and other cyclists negotiate for space, slowing everyone down and forcing us to consider each other. I think about the goodness in other human beings. The finite nature of 1.7 miles. The people who traverse this path every day.

Head down and arms shaking at the midpoint, I'm able to stay on the bike and push through. It seems like a long time and then it's over.

Giddy on the other side. I'm right, I am right. It's the caffeine. Not broken. Whole. 

Now, carry me home.


  1. Grinning. For you. <3 (that's a heart in case you can't tell...)

  2. That is so awesome. Good for you. Good for you~!