February 23, 2019

Spin, Dry

So much rain.

So much cabin fever.

So little fitness.

A modest route drew a good-sized group today, despite the chilly air. Uncharacteristically, there were more gals than guys on the ride. Lots of pink (bikes, accessories, jackets, jerseys).

We started with a visit to Alum Rock Park. The water was flowing well in Penitencia Creek.

Our destination, San Felipe Road, is a welcome rural respite along the southeastern flank of San José.

Streams coursed through the fields: water finds a way.

Cyclists found a way, too—though we constrained ourselves to paved roads. There was ample cardio challenge for me over 37 miles and 2,305 of climbing, though my legs felt stronger than I expected.

Dividends from just a couple of rowing machine workouts on rainy days. There will be more of those.

February 18, 2019


There is likely a new tradition for our club to ride the hills south of Hollister on this day, for it was on Presidents' Day in 2018 that a beloved member was struck and killed here.

Our tradition represents an adaptation of yahrzeit, which marks the anniversary of a death. Our multicultural minyan (of cyclists) gathered at the ghost bike to remember Jon with a recitation of the Mourner's Kaddish (English translation).

We adapted the custom of placing stones at the grave, to place them at this memorial site. And some of our club members had clearly learned more about this tradition. One had chosen a rock at the top of one of the most difficult climbs in our area (Bohlman Road), then carried it in his saddle bag for 200 miles of riding before placing it here. (Jon had completed nearly 50 double centuries.)

Another cyclist (who could not ride with us today) came prepared with a spread of brushes, jars of bright enamel paints, and an assortment of smooth rocks. I was drawn to a particular stone, immediately. “Never Forget Jon” was the message from me.

Afterward, we were left with our thoughts as we pedaled along the back roads. Knowing that we were seeing some of the same sights that Jon saw, that day. Blue skies, green hills, the light of the sun in winter. This year, some of the higher peaks were dusted with snow.

A wild sow and her little brown piglets streaked through a field and across the road in front of me. We abbreviated our planned loop to an out-and-back (24 miles, 1,150 feet of climbing) after hearing that a key connector was flooded.

May the tradition of this day be carried forward in memory of Jon, even past the time of those of us who once rode alongside him.

January 4, 2019

Crystal Blue Persuasion

The thing is ... it was 32°F on Wednesday morning. [Well, 32.2°F, to be precise.] And 32.7°F on Thursday.

The thing is ... the forecast was showing 100% chance of rain on Saturday; the sky today was clear and oh-so-blue.

The thing is ... there would be little traffic, since many people were extending their holiday time off.

The thing is ... I have not been getting enough exercise.

The thing is ... my morning calendar was clear.

The thing is ... no more excuses!

[Yes, that's more than one thing. I know.]

I pulled myself together, pumped up the tires, and pedaled off on my first ride of 2019. I skipped the club outings on January 1st, because ... I couldn't think of a good reason to go for a bike ride when the thermometer registered 33°F. [Yes, it was colder this morning; but I would be rewarded with a flaky chocolate croissant and a nice warm shower once I arrived at work.]
The ride was ... ah, “invigorating” (once my frozen fingers stopped throbbing). There were very few people out and about, but the birds were twittering. I wondered how they managed, in the cold.

And then ...

On a city street I was startled by a sudden explosion of feathers.

It was an equally startled juvenile Cooper's Hawk, who was loath to abandon its squirrelly meal. [The carcass was still too meaty to carry off, I think.] I parked the bike and sidled ever closer, next to a conveniently parked car, without spooking the bird. [Much to the dismay of a crow with its eye on the prize, cawing high above us in a tree.]

I took the lazy/longer/flatter route (19.5 miles), which still amounted to 260 feet of climbing. [Well, I did go up the gratuitous hill. No excuses.]

It warmed up to 34°F on Friday, and the roads were even emptier. Three days, three rides to work.
There'll be peace and good, brotherhood ...

December 31, 2018

Closing Out 2018

I've admired this homeowner's display for the past few years, and each season I think “I should take a picture,” but I'm usually more keen to get home than to stop. And then, right after Christmas, the lights go out.

This year, I remembered. This year, I stopped.

Another year has passed. I managed to bike to (or from) work 62 times. Not bad, considering that each trip is 18+ miles. And overall, I biked more than 2,385 miles, climbing more than 105,172 feet along the way. More than last year. Less than next year? [We'll see.]

December 25, 2018

Coastal Perspective

The winter sun sits low in the sky.

The sea calms me. I doubt that I could be happy living far from the shore, though of course so many people do.

Memories of Christmases past give way to the present, and a newer tradition of hiking on this day. We wandered along the Half Moon Bay Coastal trail, and some spurs, for a nice 6-mile walk.

My gift today was to enjoy the beauty of this world, the clear skies and sunshine, and the company of a good friend.

December 20, 2018

Ghost Bike Dedication

Winter rains have started to green the hills, but today the sun shone upon us.

We gathered in memory of Jon. His wife and son, his friends, members of his congregation and our bicycle club, and the folks from the ranch who graciously gave space on their land for a ghost bike.

Memories were shared, prayers read, tears shed.

From there we rode the familiar Cienega Loop in the unfamiliar direction (northward), rolling in at 33 miles with 1,480 feet of climbing.

In the afternoon, we bore somber witness in the courtroom at the final hearing. When Jon's widow read her statement about the impact of Jon's loss on their family and the community, it was as though everyone in the room froze in place: no one stirred, no one made a sound. The judge, having accepted the defendant's plea of “no contest” to the misdemeanor charge for killing Jon, sentenced the driver to a jail term of 150 days. He will return to his life. To his wife. To his children.

Jon is gone forever, and we will never know why.

December 15, 2018


I was non-committal about riding today. Did I really want to set the alarm to wake up early enough on a Saturday morning to haul myself to the start of a bike ride? [No.]

If I wake up naturally, I told myself, I will go. [And so I did.] It was also convenient that this particular ride would start at the leisurely hour of 10 a.m.

This is a route that the club rides regularly, and I fully intended to join the group earlier this year. I had pulled myself together that day, loaded up the car, drove down to the starting point, and just as I pulled into the parking lot I realized ... I had left my bike shoes at home. [Sigh.]

I would not make that mistake today.

'Tis the season; an ambitious homeowner was working on his Christmas holiday display. I wonder if Santa and a sack of presents will materialize in that sleigh two weeks from now?

Blue skies to the east, gray skies to the west. A storm is approaching from the south, which blessed us with an uncharacteristic tailwind for the return leg. Woo-hoo! I looked forward to that reward as I faced the modest headwinds on the opening leg.

What a treat to sail along at an effortless 18 mph for the last ten miles! 40 miles, 1,085 feet of climbing for the day.