What I think about when I am riding

Sunday was my first completely unscheduled day for almost two weeks, so I did what I did the last time and went for as long a bike ride as I could contemplate.
Despite Saturday being a long day (though very enjoyable with my third trip down to Santa Cruz, being well taken care of by Hannah, and then going out for dinner with a long-time zen friend in town from New York), and despite my housemate having a belated birthday party, I was awake pretty early and out of the door before inertia set in – though it was not as early as I often managed when I was at Zen Center. Any lingering tiredness was mitigated by remembering the pleasure of being out on the roads while they were still mostly empty.
Riding with someone through Sausalito, he mentioned the north-westerly wind that would be picking up, and as soon as I was over Camino Alto, I noticed it – more continuously so once I was through Fairfax and heading up White’s Grade, where it was cutting through the gap in the hills, like a hand pushing on my face.
Even if I had not been this way for almost a year, as I remember on many occasions in the past, once I got into Nicasio, headwind or not, I settled into the rhythm of pedalling. Riding up to and around the reservoir – which looked in good health – I am always reminded of the upland roads on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor, from St Neot to Dozmary Pool and Jamaica Inn, that I used to ride when staying with my dad. Skirting the flanks of Black Mountain in the last few miles before Point Reyes Station, I was starting to look forward to my coffee and morning bun from the Bovine – and they did not disappoint.
I was also looking forward to the tail wind on the way home, which became like a gentle hand on the small of my back pushing me on (I doled out a few of those on the Zen-a-Thon ride). Having been buzzed by a gang of high-speed motorbikes on the way up from Olema to the Bolinas Ridge (there is a notorious regular Sunday ride I do my best to avoid usually, who are the only motorcyclists I have found problematic in years of riding bikes), I was glad of the few traffic-free miles through Samuel Taylor Park, though everything was hurting already, as it continued to do for the two remaining hours it took me to get home, for all that the wind helped, and the good-natured group of riders I fell in with on the way back through Sausalito. I had been mentally planning this ride for a couple of weeks, which definitely helps contemplate the distance, but there is still the actual experience of being out on the road for the best part of six hours and making it happen.

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