Sunday, August 26, 2007


So I blew off going to shoot the fourth, and final for 2007, Cranky Monkey race today. I've been running full-speed for a couple of weeks now and just needed a day to decompress. The idea of being up and out of the house by 7am just didn't sound like fun. And if it's not fun, it's work.

I just got back from a quick, busy trip out to San Francisco.

The wife is out there for a couple of months for job training. Her new employer was nice enough to fly me out for a (much overdo) visit.

I got out there Friday. On Saturday, the wife and I headed north, through Napa wine country and stopped in Calistoga, a cool little town with a post-WWII feel. It also has a bit of a tourist-trap vibe thrown in for good measure. We stopped off at the Calistoga Inn for a drink, where I had a tasty brewed-on-site Calistoga Amber Ale. We then went on to another place for dinner where I got to try a Lagunitas IPA. Tasty. Hoppy. I'll definitely keep my eye out for this again, tho I don't recall ever seeing it here on the east coast. Maybe I just never noticed it. Oh yeah. And I had a mud bath, too. Man, I'm still picking bits of mud outta nooks and crannies. Much like I see skydiving or alligator wrestling, that's one of them once-in-a-lifetime kinda events. Been there, done it. Cross it off the list and move on.

Sunday, we headed south down Highway 1.

A beautiful drive down the coast with stops in Santa Cruz and Carmel (the town formerly under the rule of Mayor Eastwood). Santa Cruz had a cool college-town feel. I could definitely see myself living here (all the hippies not withstanding). At least for a while. Besides...with a town named after a mountain bike company, there have got to be some good trails around there, too. Right?

Monday the wife had to put in a half-day's work, so we stuck around the apartment. She working, I reading the infinitely fascinating "Under the Banner of Heaven" (highly recommended, btw). After the relaxed morning, we decided to wander down and book one of the bay boat tours. Yeah, touristy. But eff it. I'm a tourist.

We left the marina, tooled around under the Golden Gate Bridge, came back around Alcatraz, somewhat close to Angle Island then back to port. The kite surfers took advantage of the high winds and boat wake to give us some acrobatic entertainment. Unfortunately they were too far off for my short camera lens to be of much use.

Tuesday the wife had to go into the office, so I had the day to explore solo. I rented a beater Fuji mountain bike and headed off around the Embarcadero towards the Golden Gate. I crossed the bridge and headed off into the Marin countryside, following the cartoon-quality-map intended for fat tourists on rented hybrids (or in my case, fat tourists on rented mountain bikes), in search of a brown and twisty dotted line bearing the vague description: "MTB Trail".

I make a switchback climb up a gravel road and survey the lay of the land, which looked pretty much like this, except more 3D in real life:

From the top of the hill, I can see the fire-road-width trails a bit further down the road. It takes a bit of searching to find the actual trail-head. Unfortunately, by the time I hit dirt, I'm already a significant number of miles into my ride (for my outta-shape ass). I'm pretty beat, and time is running out (gotta get back into the city to meet the wife when she gets off of work. The perils of a single set of apartment keys). I roam around the dirt for a mile or two (all a gradual climb, damnit). I reach a point, this point as a matter of fact:

and simply turn around. The nice thing about the mile-plus gradual climb is that it becomes a mile-plus moderately-high-speed descent on the return trip.

I make my way back to SF proper the same way I came out to the 'burbs. Google-mapping the whole ride after the fact, it looks like I managed to do about 24 miles of riding.

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