Crossing the bridge

I had intended to go for a ride yesterday morning, but when I awoke, the fog was thick over the city, and it did not seem like an auspicious time to get back on my road bike for the first time in over four months, since before I went to Tassajara. This morning the sky was blue, and I set off, over Pacific Heights and down to the Marina. It is always lovely to ride along Crissy Field towards the bridge – at least until the wind gets up and you have to battle against it. It is a marvel that the city has such open space with such views.

Crossing the bridge can bring about a variety of experiences: I am easily susceptible to vertigo, and it took many times riding over to train myself not to look down or up to provoke it. One time I rode across when there was a ‘wind advisory’. The cables were making a haunting noise somewhere between humming and howling, and going around the tower on the sidewalk provoked a panic attack; I had to sit on the ground with my back against the tower to regain any composure. On other days, like today, when the sun is rising behind the city and the shadows fall across the roadway, the joy of the universe is abundant and clear. Sometimes in San Francisco the weather conditions can surprise you; I was thinking about the aptness of the phrase ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it’. Sometimes I have anticipated bad conditions and had no problems; at other times, the opposite occurs.

The object of the ride was to climb Hawk Hill on the Headlands, just to check how my legs are doing. I didn’t expect to be riding fast, but I enjoy the feeling of testing out my body and seeing how it responds. I have done this most of my life, and now I believe it was a good preparation for sitting practice. What is going on right now? How do I feel? Perhaps I want to ride harder, but my legs don’t want to go. Then there is the sweet feeling of dancing on the pedals, gliding along, swooping effortlessly down a slope.

The climb itself was clear, and it was early enough to still be quiet. I felt sympathetic joy for the few photographers who were out of their cars and getting beautiful shots of the bridge and the landmarks of the city arrayed before them in the warm morning light.  Once I was over the top, on the back side, with the steep curving drop looking over the ocean, the fog that perhaps lay across a thousand miles of the Pacific extended into the gullies and over Rodeo Lagoon. I had been warm, now I was cooled off. I saw deer, heard scrub jays, and remembered that last time I had been on the road I had caught sight of a bobcat ambling along a trail. This time I was riding slowly enough not to scare the quail.

Bridge from Crissy Fields
The view of the bridge from Crissy Field, with Hawk Hill behind it.

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