Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Tuesday is usually Spinning with Roger. With the hour of noon approaching, I'm still not ready. The normal thing is to run around like a chicken gathering lunch, street clothes, bike shorts, water bottle. Today thoughts of getting ready just go round and round. No progress.

Outside the fog is burning off, revealing a gorgeous summer day. In March. Clear, mid 70s. As minutes tick by the thought of heading indoors to spin and go nowhere becomes repugnant. Wrong.

A quick inspection of the fridge yields nothing in the way of lunch. That pretty much decides it. Will ride to Woodside for food...

One good thing about heading out on a bike: the route can evolve. As a workout it has to be more than the Loop. But even with the time change, the coast is off the table. That's what the local hills are for, starting with Magdalena and Springbrook. Around the old quarry, now a decorative "lake" surrounded by trophy homes.

From there on autopilot, it's Altamont. But maybe, just maybe something harder and longer and quieter is called for. The Waterford happily doubles back and turns onto Moody.

Cruising up Moody Canyon, I briefly consider climbing the whole of Page Mill to the top.

On the steep part that idea goes away.

Tons on my mind the past week, tangled things that can't easily be worked out. Failures, loose ends without clarity. Sleeping weirdly, dreams tinged with conflict and guilt. Somehow I feel guilty for leaving work. Not for the way it happened, nor the reason. Just for not helping out.

The push up Moody pegs the heart rate but also dampens the noise in my head. Thoughts come and go at a slower, organic pace. In the absence of panic, it's possible to notice thoughts and notice the space between them. Silence.

And it's not just guilt. There's a lost feeling, too. I'm searching for something that can fill the void left by not going to work every day. A model, an organizational principle. Sometimes it's no structure means nothing happens. When structure doesn't work it's get out of the box. Today it happens to be both.

At Roberts Market I'm not the only cyclist. Three others are perched on a rock wall eating sandwiches in the sun. We greet each other in a disorganized way, like a pack of canines. Almost hot out here. From the Sierra Century jerseys my guess is they're from Sacramento. That turns out to be correct.

Today they're riding from Pescadero to Woodside and back, the reverse of what we locals do. As part of something they call a Zodiac. Every month it means carpooling to a jumping off point, then spending a few days sampling the local bike roads and routes. While we were in Death Valley these folks were riding in Borrego Springs. Same idea...

Every day is playing hooky; from their faces they're retired, content, relaxed. Not even a little bit guilty.

They're impressed by our hills though, namely Tunitas Creek Road. Yeah we usually save that one until May or June, later in the season, peak fitness time. Today was an interesting twist: the road was blocked and the detour led down Lobitos Cutoff and back up Lobitos Creek. Wow, that's a big bonus climb. They look pleased, and tired.

Tomorrow they'll head up Eureka Canyon. Another sweet and shady road. Next month it's Andorra, of all places, and their excitement is palpable. All I can say is these hills are good training for mountain passes. Not as long but your legs do get the idea.

As we talk cars and contractors' trucks roar by nonstop. The market is hopping, as usual. The center of town? This is it, really just a crossroads.

How did I come to be here in the middle of the day? I tell the story about Spinning class. How in the Bay Area recreational cycling is, well, competitive. That's the best word. Fall one workout behind and you will be left in the dust, too slow. One guy declares "I've never been to a Spinning class in my life!" It feels good to hear him say that. Like there might be something else, another way.

To tell the truth there was nothing super fulfilling or virtuous about my life before the accident. It was very, very full and busy. Like the intersection of Woodside and Canada Roads.

They'll head back over the hill to Pescadero, where the cars are parked. I'll finish my soup, poppy seed cake, and orange. Then cruise over Sand Hill, past Stanford Linear Accelerator and the venture capital firms.

Eventually it will occur to me to feel grateful for the freedom to get out and ride when it feels good, not just on the weekend.

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