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.

December 2, 2018


More time off the bike. Five weeks, now. Not a single ride in November. [Well, not counting three miles most weekdays, to and from my commuter shuttle.]

My chief biking buddy and I were determined to get out for a ride today, and I opted to join her on one of her favorite outings: to Alviso, mostly on trails. To keep the distance manageable, I shortened my trip by hopping on the light rail to reach our starting point (and, to return).

Having learned my lesson last time, I definitely needed something less taxing.

I was delighted by the full-size sculpture of Lupe, the Columbian mammoth, along the Guadalupe Creek Trail (near where her remains were discovered). After that story faded from the news back in 2005, I had forgotten all about it.

I have never seen the surface of San Francisco Bay so still. In addition to black-necked stilts in the shallows, we saw a floating flock of white pelicans (and a few egrets and great blue herons along the way).

It rained yesterday, which helped clear out the smoke from the catastrophic Camp Fire that had choked the region for weeks. Even though the fire burned about 200 miles to the northeast, our air quality was (at times) hazardous. Even though all my windows were closed, I smelled the smoke in my house the morning after the fire started.

We didn't get too far on the levees before the trail became too muddy for us to proceed. We met another woman cycling on her own and invited her to join us. We parted ways on the return trip, opting for the unpaved trail on the opposite bank of the Guadalupe River.

The principal part of the ride was 24 flat miles (okay, okay: 320 feet of climbing), which I extended another 10 miles (and 200 feet of climbing) biking to and from the light rail station. Looking forward to repeating this ride in other seasons!