What I think about when I am riding

Regarded from one side, an entire range;
From another, a single peak.
Far, near, high, low, all its parts
Different from the others
If the true face of Mount Lu
Cannot be known,
It is because the one looking at it
Is standing in its midst. – Su Shih

There was a high pressure system sitting over the Bay Area for the weekend, which, after a cool, grey and windy week, meant clear skies, pleasant temperatures and very little wind. It seemed the perfect weather for going up Mount Tam.

The mountain is visible from many parts of the city; as I rode out, I first saw it long and low from the little rise above the Fuschia Dell in Golden Gate Park. Then again a little glimpse of the peak through a notch in the headlands at a certain point when crossing the bridge. Then lording it over the flat bay side of Sausalito. Sometimes it seems hard to imagine that I will actually ride the whole way up there.

Perhaps because of the nice weather, there were a lot of people out at a relatively early hour. I rode with a pleasant group through Sausalito, and allowed myself to get caught up in a strong group of riders tackling the back roads out of Mill Valley on the way up to the Panoramic – normally I take some of the lower sections more gently to save energy for higher up. There were also an awful lot of cars, coming along in waves, and I experienced some of the same wearing issues of speed and space that I have written about before.  Except that this time, turning off to the summit road at Pantoll brought no relief – people seemed to be in a great hurry to get to the Mountain Theater, perhaps because parking is at such a premium. It was only on the last stretches above Rock Springs that I had the quiet to concentrate on the personal business of climbing a mountain.

It is always nice to sit at the top and survey the view back down to the gleaming boats of Sausalito, the dark towers of the city, and the further peaks around Pacifica. According to the sign there, it is only ten miles back to San Francisco, but I assume that is as the crow flies. It takes time to navigate the many slopes and corners, and with so many people out, I was taking it carefully – it did not take long for me to come round a corner and find a car coming towards me well across the double yellow lines. It seemed almost peaceful in the city after that, as if everyone who had not rushed to get out into nature was content to slow down and enjoy the sunshine.

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