November 25, 2017

Tunnel of Leaves

New high-temperature records were set today: 78F in Gilroy, 80F in San Jose. I peeled off the arm warmers early; later, I shed the vest.

Fall colors in a row of trees at a farm, near Morgan Hill, California
It was incongruent to see cars pass with Christmas trees lashed to their rooftops. Too early, and definitely too warm.

We biked the length of Redwood Retreat Road, and although I spied one large redwood at the end, mostly we were shaded by other trees. Fallen leaves littered the roadside—only fallen leaves, a welcome sight after miles of broken glass, trash, and smashed car parts. What if a bottle was worth more than the beer it contained? Imagine a refundable $10 deposit, per bottle. Would that dissuade punks from tossing their empties on the road?

Trees arching from both sides over Redwood Retreat Road, Gilroy, California
And is no one responsible for clearing the debris after a car crash? There was a disturbing spread along Santa Teresa, perhaps from a red truck that met a very violent end. Do they leave the remains as a cautionary tale? We cycled past at least three roadside memorials today.

There were lovely sights, too. Deer, goats, horses, cattle, llamas. Sweeping vistas, fall colors. A barrier closed Mt. Madonna Road shy of the spot where we normally turn around (at the end of the paved road). Inquiring minds want to know ... and so we eased on by. Nothing remarkable about that last stretch; perhaps the unseen unpaved side bore the brunt of last winter's wrath.

Shortly after a pit stop at a local library, one of my ride buddy's tires exploded with a loud “Pffft!” [Uh oh.]

Statue of a woman reading a book to a young boy on her lap in front of the Morgan Hill Library, Morgan Hill, California
A few inches of her front tire had slipped off the rim, exposing a sliver of the tube. [In retrospect, we should have replaced the tube, then and there.] The tire was not losing pressure (or so it seemed). I released enough air to slip the tube back inside the tire, and the tire back on the rim. A CO2 cartridge made for a quick re-inflation and we continued on our way.

The weirdly warm weather also suppressed the headwinds that traditionally plague the return trip. I pulled out ahead, believing that I still had her in sight. [I was wrong about that.]

Saffron yellow ginkgo leaves on green grass, San Jose, California
Back at our starting point, I admired the sunny yellow ginkgo leaves. Today was the day for many of the local specimens to drop their leaves; we had been showered with them as we started riding this morning.

When my ride buddy had not appeared after ten minutes or so, I set out to find her. As I'd feared, the tire had gone flat; luckily, another rider helped get her back on the road. Thus, I rounded out the day with a respectable 63 miles but a measly 2,625 feet of climbing—despite leading us on a scenic diversion along some steep residential roads.

Lesson for the day: Heed the hiss. Swap the tube.

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