March 18, 2017

Up a Random Hill

Out of shape, I am.

View of green hills and the Diablo Range from Bernal Road, San Jose, California
I did manage to commute to (and from!) work one day last week, after daylight savings time kicked in. Getting up took some convincing, it did.

Today wasn't pretty, a bit chilly thanks to overcast skies and more wind than I expected.

My ride buddy and I kept it short—just one hill. Most of the group skips the climb we chose; instead, we skipped the rest. It's quiet and wide, affording us ample time to chat. (My buddy pedaled up twice, having arrived an hour too early.)

It's been awhile since I last visited this area; there's quite a bit of development in progress.

We met at Random Access Method of Accounting and Control Park. (RAMAC Park, that is.) Named for the first computer to use a hard disk drive, which was invented nearby at IBM. Fittingly, our climb up Bernal Road ends at the Almaden Research Center's gate.

The club has been starting rides from this park after a favored bike shop shut down. Something didn't feel right with this place. Men in aggressive cars were loitering in the parking lot, or circling the neighborhood. I picked up (and recycled) an empty 32 oz. beer bottle that had been discarded. At least it hadn't shattered.

After finishing the ride, the dead-end street next to the park was blocked by adjacent patrol cars; the officers were conferring. That seemed all the more curious after I reached the main road, where the traffic signals were out at two busy intersections. Motorists were left to negotiate the multiple straight-through and turn lanes on their own.

One mile of climbing, 12 miles of flat: 575 feet, in all. In a word, enough.

March 3, 2017

Ah, Altitude

It has been an spectacularly snowy winter in the Sierras. We arrived on a perfect high-altitude-blue sky day,

which became a perfect clear black night.

In a few days, skiers from around the world will compete in the World Cup races at Squaw Valley.

They will be well-prepared. Unlike yours truly, who committed a regrettable tactical error ten days ago by donating a unit of blood. I did consider postponing till after this trip, but then made the wrong choice.

You see, at altitude, you really need those red blood cells.

My heart rate was elevated (normal) and my body was busy shedding plasma (normal) to raise the concentration of those oxygen-carrying warriors. There just weren't enough of them.

I felt tired ... was it only 8:30 p.m.? Maybe I'd feel better in the morning.

I woke up groggy. Maybe I'd feel better after lunch.

Sliding around on a pair of skis while lightheaded would not count as a good idea. The sled dogs were fully booked.

The skies had clouded over as the next storm approached.

I boarded the tram to visit the mountain-top High Camp.

Lake Tahoe was just visible in the distance, through the rings that remain from the 1960 Winter Olympic games.

I wandered through the Olympic Museum. I would not have fared well on those skis, not at all.

Graceful skiers carved their tracks down the slope as I watched with wistful envy.

Next time.