Taking to the Mountains 

There has been more rain since I have been back from England than I would have expected this early in the winter, as several systems have passed through. On the downside, I have been out on my bike less that I would otherwise have been, and during the trips I have taken, I have had two tyres punctured by shards of glass, which tend to linger at the side of the road when it is wet. At the same time, the days have been incredible, colours washed by complex skies, such as I enjoyed in England, as the rain moves in and out, low-angled sun, the muted shine of the bay – and three rainbows, though I only had my camera with me for one of those. Coming down past the Cliff House the other morning, the view south over Ocean Beach was stunning, merging into damp indistinctness like a dramatic Turner maritime canvas.

Since my running form was good, I have been continuing to clock up miles, and in combination with the rides I have taken, and the Roaming Zen which was blessed with clearing skies and warmth last weekend, I feel like I have been looking out over the city from many interconnected views. I have been up Mount Davidson three times in the space of two weeks, and Mount Sutro, Bernal Heights, Tank Hill, Twin Peaks and Billy Goat Hill within the city, as well as rides to Hawk Hill over the bridge, and San Bruno Mountain to the south of the city. 

My ride over the bridge was on a rain-free day, but there was enough dampness for the morning mist to be clinging to the Golden Gate. I felt sorry for the early morning tourists who were unable to see the towers of the bridge from the vista points. As I rode around the towers and looked up, which I tend not to do for the vertigo it induces, I could see that the tops were glowing copper-coloured as they cleared the marine layer. Once on dry land on the Marin side, suddenly the view ahead was of blue skies, but as I did my loop of the Headlands, I found myself  going in and out of the fog, from cold hollows to warm hillsides.

Endurance has been my thing more than speed, a fact that was first remarked upon when I was in the running team at high school, and helping one of the teachers train for the New York marathon. He observed that I would probably do well at the marathon, though in practice I preferred to do half that distance. Anything under 10km always felt like a flat-out sprint to me, and I never enjoyed running on the track. The fastest I ever ran competitively was the summer I bought my road bike. I had just spent some days slogging up and down the endless succession of hills in Cornwall for the first time, and then came back to London to run a team relay race over a flat course of a mile and a half in Regent’s Park. I had not enjoyed this race in the past, but that summer I found myself totally in the zone, and flying around the paths. Conversely I have not found running, whether over hills or not, to have much beneficial impact on my riding, and thus it has been these past few weeks. I have some core power, for short efforts, but my legs do not have hours of riding in them right now, and the weather has not helped with this. It feels like I am back where I was a year ago, back from Tassajara and re-acquainting myself with the notion of hours in the saddle, but that is okay – I am enjoying the mountains and the jaw-droppingly beautiful views, and my continued practice of getting over the heights and running freely home.

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