September 18, 2016

B-Day Ride

The friendly young clerk in the local market asked me what I was planning to do this weekend. [No, it wasn't a pickup line; he's young enough to be my ... well, let's not go there.]

Behind Lick Observtory, Mt. Hamilton, California
“I'm going for a bike ride tomorrow.” He smiled, but when he asked ”Where?” he wasn't prepared for my answer: Up Mt. Hamilton. “To the top?!” he asked, incredulous.

Of course, silly boy.

I had a birthday recently, and climbing my favorite mountain seemed like a good way to celebrate. When a club member listed a ride for today, even though it was much earlier than I would normally start, it seemed ordained. One downside of the early start was that, heading east, we were riding into the sun.

One of my regular riding pals joined me (no small sacrifice, at such an early hour)—and further surprised me with some lovely flowers, which elicited birthday greetings from the rest of the group.

Moon setting above the smoggy valley, viewed from the lower slopes of Mt. Hamilton, California
Sunday is the better weekend day for climbing Hamilton, as it's less busy. I was surprised that a few motorcyclists were also getting an early start, and even more surprised by cyclists already coming down the hill. Did they start before dawn? Maybe; the moon was nearly full, and the skies were clear.

The rest of the group was embarking on a century ride, and we wished them well. It would be a hot day; just doing Hamilton would be enough for me. A fellow cyclist pointed out that “just” doing Hamilton wasn't exactly sitting on the sofa playing video games, as it's nearly 5,000 feet of climbing.

Grant Lake and golden, oak-studded hills, near Joseph Grant Park, Mt. Hamilton, California
There was an uncommon amount of roadside junk: faded sofas, broken furniture, large pieces of rusted equipment. My guess is that some authority has hauled this detritus out of the ravines for pickup. Hopefully soon, since that sort of stuff is a magnet for more.

I've seen a lot along this road, but today I spotted something I'd never found before.

Right there along the edge of the road, its pink ribbon caught on some brush, was a Mylar balloon. A Happy Birthday balloon.

What are the odds?

pep with a Happy Birthday balloon atop Mt. Hamilton, California
I tugged it free and tied it to the back of my helmet. [And no, there wasn't enough helium to give me a lift.] This inspired many more passing cyclists to wish me “Happy Birthday,” making this climb one that I'll always remember.

The usual 39 miles with 4,715 feet of climbing. As someone recently reminded me, growing old is a privilege.

No comments:

Post a Comment