These must be desperate times: seven Spokers from San Francisco broke down and came over to Contra Costa to do a bike ride! I guess the allure of Marin and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge had worn off, and wouldn’t it be a laugh to slum over in the ‘burbs? I was surprised not just by the number but also because there was the threat of rain, and god forbid riding in the rain!
This was a simple ride, one of my ‘go-to’ rides when I just don’t want to think and prefer to log some easy miles: ride out to Moraga and then down the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, which is a rails-to-trails conversion, and then down the Iron Horse Trail, another rails-to-trails, to Danville. Will, Scott, Mark, new members Bud and Alan, as well as President David and Treasurer Roger joined me this time. Although it threatened to rain no one bailed and four even came by BART despite the cruel half-hour wait between trains these days. A few of the guys came in shorts and a jersey—that would have been perfect a week ago—but fall had fallen and without warmers or a jacket it was a brisk start to their day.
It was the usual Tony ride: Tony starts too fast, the group is chatty, Will bombs the downhill, oohs and aahs down the beautiful MUPs. This time no one got lost maybe because the route was simple and maybe because it was old hat for some. We pulled into Danville at the “Caboose” for an unnatural break. A train caboose being repurposed for restrooms struck some as a real novelty whereas for me, old and jaded, it was just part of the scenery I’ve come to ignore, which these days is just about all the scenery since I’m mostly lost in thought when I ride with just a touch of awareness for the mayhem and madness on the streets.
Bladders delightfully appeased we rolled a couple of blocks down to the new Sultan’s Kebab in town and took a gander: awright! no one was using the outside tables! Sultan’s Kebab started in Pleasanton and recently opened outposts in Walnut Creek and Danville. It’s not going to earn any Michelin stars but it’s good Middle Eastern food. And they have vegan and vegetarian choices should you eschew slaughtered animals. We took over two tables and gabbed and gnawed to our hearts’ content. Most got some form of kebab wrap and the verdict was “Yummy!” Being one who enjoys the same old rut I got the usual veg plate, which is an obscene amount of food just perfect for a scarf-and-barf.
Will got a Turkish coffee that had a resplendent aroma; if I hadn’t been stuffed to the gills I would have marched back in and ordered one (or two!) for myself.
Stomachs overly full means only one thing: pedal to the metal up Danville Boulevard! I had a slow roll in mind…until we got passed by three wannabes at Stone Valley Road. So naturallly I had to gun it to catch their wheels. Next thing I know we’re going 23+ mph down the road dodging tree branches and piles of acorns. That was fun even if the rest of the group was a bit peeved. The rest of the way back was done at a modest pace. Alan and Will kept asking me, “Isn’t there a hill on the way back? Is this it?” Honestly the hills from Danville to Orinda are hardly worth mentioning. Except for the short 9% grade up to St. Stephens. Did I mention that I hadn’t been riding much and that I hadn’t done a ride over 30 miles in over two months? So right around the 34-mile point I totally caved and crawled up that hill. I thought I was safe until we turned into the BART parking lot at the end. That incline was just enough to set off leg cramps and I literally came to a stop. Fortunately I only had to hobble a hundred yards to the end. Fun ride, good company, delish food, wasted. Mission accomplished.
Flash flood update: I took a ride down the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail a couple of days after the Bomb Cyclone hit us, which was the day after we went to Danville for lunch. What a difference ten and a half inches of rain makes! There is a vernal waterfall along the trail that only reappears after we get plenty of rainfall, and I had a feeling that it would bloom fulsome after our recent deluge. For the past two dry winters it’s been an anemic trickle during the infrequent rains. But not now! It adds an otherwordly feel to a very well used MUP, something you might see only in the depths of Big Basin State Park yet it’s in the middle of the ‘burbs.