Bacchanalia has never been my strong suit, and while people getting trollied (to use one of the less vulgar English euphemisms) can be entertaining, and give rise to some sympathetic joy (to get in a gratuitous brahmavihara), there is also a way that mass public drunkenness can be separating – between us and them, from both sides.
I have never taken part in Bay to Breakers, though I did consider it in my early years in the city, when it seemed that there were a few people interested in running it. Now, for me, it is just one of those events that cause havoc with traffic in the city.
Happily I was awake very early on Sunday, and got away before the roads were closed off, though probably half the people I saw on my way to the bridge were in costume and making their way to the start. There was also a small triathlon happening around Crissy Field, and I had to dodge a few people running along in wetsuits, on their way to the bike change-over at Sports Basement. They would not have looked out of place later on.
On the Marin side, everything was peaceful. I had seen fog out of my window before leaving, so had brought my wind jacket, but there was no need for it – temperatures were fine. I noticed that I was quite tired, perhaps from the Roaming Zen on top of all the other physical activity of the week, but I was also not in a hurry.
I wanted to try out the Fairfax – Bolinas road, which was still closed off past Azalea Hill. I half expected, from the signage, some complete blockage, or major repair, but there was nothing unusual except for an exposed bank where a tree had come down and ended up in Alpine Lake. While that might have made things a little narrow for two cars, frankly the road is in much worse shape on the first climb out of Fairfax, where the right side has been subsiding steadily for the last few years, and that is still open to traffic.
There was not a lot of power in my legs, no extra push for the last sections of the Alpine climb. I did have some encouraging company once I started up the seven sisters, a guy who was planning to go up to the summit. I struggled to keep up with him a few times, but dug in the best I could. I had taken a spin up to the top myself during the week, and been relatively happy with my form, at least towards the end when I could settle into a rhythm – just above the Pantoll I had looked down to check I was not accidentally in a higher gear than intended, so weary had I felt. On that day there had been sun and fog; at the summit, south of the Richmond Bridge only Mount Diablo had been visible, though if you looked closely enough, you could just make out the three topmost aerials of the Sutro Tower peaking through the fog- not the first time I have seen that phenomenon. On Sunday, once I got to look across on the way down from Rock Springs, I was happy to see it was clear all the way to the bottom, to use the zen phrase.
I was also happy that it was still early enough that most of the traffic was still going in the opposite direction, and that there were very few tourists on the bridge – perhaps they were all watching Bay to Breakers. I was getting increasingly tired, but there is always a bit of energy to get across the city – this time via the timed lights and kind slopes of Bush Street east of Laurel Hill, but by the time I got to Hayes, the party on the hill was still in full effect, people having covered about two miles in more than three hours… My party involved a hot bath, some coffee, and settling down to see how the last day of the English Premier League season unfolded; luckily, there was no sore head from that afterwards.
(If all of this is a mystery to you, take a look at some of the photos).