May 20, 2018

Berry Cool Day

There was a reason why I was eager to take it easy yesterday, and that reason was today. Time for one of my favorite events on the greater Bay Area cycling calendar: Strawberry Fields Forever.

Strawberry Fields Forever check-in table festooned with paper berries, Watsonville, California
We have an abundance of choices for organized rides, and I've sampled many of them; this is my mainstay. I've missed it for assorted reasons over the years—sometimes by choice (rain). For the first time in many years, a friend signed up to join me.

There were a couple of places, early on, that could have used some route-marking arrows. My ride buddy grew concerned, but I assured her we were on the right road, headed in the right direction. I hope the newbies always had other riders in sight, to follow.

The “May Gray” might have been less than picturesque, but it did ensure we had a comfy temperature all day.

Ice plant blooming on the cliff overlooking the sandy shore of the Pacific Ocean, La Selva Beach, California
Somewhere along the way, near the Elkhorn Slough, a tall, pink poppy next to the road caught my eye. That's odd, I thought; how did that get here? [A few days later would bring the largest opium poppy bust in California history. The growing fields? Near Elkhorn.]

The route takes us along Hazel Dell Road, which had been closed due to storm damage dating to the winter of 2016-2017. The road was open, and we shared it with some cars, but ... wow, I wouldn't drive it. One of the washed-out sections was barely one lane wide, with no protection or reinforcement creekside. Even on a bike, the condition of the road gave me pause.

It's not uncommon to run into friends on this ride. One found me as we enjoyed our apple pie and fresh lemonade at Gizdich Ranch, another as we were about to head home. My ride buddy looked up from her plate at the finish and spotted a friend ... seated across the table.

Cliff swallows nesting under the eaves at the school,

Cliff swallow perched on a mud nest in progress, Watsonville, California
great egrets hunting in the shallows of the slough.

Two great egrets and a California gull near the railroad bridge, Elkhorn Slough, California
61 miles, 2,895 feet of climbing, and more strawberries and chocolate ganache than I could sensibly eat.

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