The Fourth Dimension [update]

Again while looking for information in old ChainLetters on another topic I ran across another Ride Rumor about Bolinas Ridge Trail, this time from the July 2004 ChainLetter, five years after Doug O’Neill’s Annual Picnic ride there that I mentioned in a previous post. Kim Walsh led the ride with some newbies including Chris LaRussell, who crashed while going downhill although apparently without breaking anything. Here’s the ride listing from the Yahoo! group:

“Bolinas Ridge Mountain Bike Ride on Wednesday, June 30. Distance: 22.5 miles; Pace: B; Terrain: 3, mildly technical.

Ride Description: Come join me for a rollicking
good time on the Bolinas Ridge trail. The ride
is a mildly strenous, mildly technical mountain
bike ride suitable for advanced beginners and
more experienced mountain bikers. The ride is a
fabulous out-and-back on fire roads and double
track through a cattle ranch and parkland. It’s
listed as one of the “Northern California’s Best
100 Trails”. You’ll see great views, wide-open
grasslands, and cool redwoods. It can be warm
and dry on the ride, so bring your Camelbak or
two water bottles. Bring some dough and we can go
into Olema or Pt. Reyes Station for an aprés-ride

Ride Start: 10:30 am. Meet at the trailhead on
the Olema side. From the Golden Gate Bridge take
101 north to the San Anselmo/Sir Francis Drake
exit. Bear left and take Sir Francis Drake west,
following it to the trailhead, about 20 miles.
When you see the sign that says “Olema 1 Mile”,
the trailhead and parking area are just around
the next bend. Park on the wide dirt shoulders
on either side of the road.

Kim thought the trail was “mildly technical”, which is what I recalled it being. Note she doesn’t mention a parking lot. Either it was gone by then or it was a complete figment of my imagination! Here’s the Ride Rumor that followed in the ChainLetter:

“Bolinas Ridge Mountain Bike Ride – June 30, 2004
There were four motley riders on Kim’s mid week ride: Katrina who was on a borrowed bike as she has never done any mountain biking, Chris was also on a borrowed bike (just too lazy to change out the slicks on her bike), but at least Francois and April came with their own bikes. Katrina’s bike kept shedding parts she didn’t want while Francois, being the only boy, tried to learn how to use a really butch multi-tool. He finally handed a little pile of multi-tool metal back to Kim and she then figured out how the hell to put it back in one piece. While trying to do a downhill (and trying is the operative word here) Katrina-Bambi-Madsen made Chris-Vixen-LaRussell laugh on a little ledge teetering on a ravine with boulders. Yup, down into the abyss she went. Lying in a little heap, bloody road rash and all, it was Nurse Kim-Sneezy-Walsh to the rescue (deer names were given to all because Katrina was convinced that we were going to be eaten by Mountain Lyons, and we wanted to make sure Katrina was eaten first). She had proudly shown us her brand new first aid kit at the beginning of the ride and saw this as an opportunity to use everything in it. She tried to use the space blanket, brought out the tweezers (everyone tried their best to find something to use these on), but when everyone started talking about putting Chris to sleep like a horse that had a broken leg, she got up rather quickly and started back down the hill ahead of the pack, blood and all. At the end of the ride we all went to Pt. Reyes Station for snacks and beverages at which point we gave April (a guest), who has been on other DSSF REAL mountain bike rides, this disclaimer “if you EVER see a mountain bike ride listed by ANY of these people ever again, it’s best to just stay home!” A good time had by all!”

It looks like the trail was degenerating by 2004, as it sounds like conditions that we experienced this past July. Finally Jaime chimed on Bolinas Ridge on the Yahoo! group on 6/23/04:

“FYI, Rico, Victor, Victor’s boyfriend Kyle, and I did part of this route on Sunday
prior to the Club Picnic at Samuel P Taylor State Park. Bolinas Ridge is a terrific trail, and we agreed it is best done out-and-back rather than as the loop we did. Our loop included a horrendously steep initial climb of 1,400 ft. The out-and-back route that Kim is planning involves instead a gradual climb and a long but modest descent. It’s easy, and safe–no cliffs to worry about if you fall. Highly recommended.”

Apparently things change.


The Fourth Dimension

And this was a “non-technical” section

Memory is the fourth dimension to any landscape. —Janet Fitch

About a month ago I led a mountain bike ride to Bolinas Ridge Trail on which I crashed and broke my collarbone, my very first fracture in 65 years. What puzzled me about that day was, how could I have been so wrong about this trail? I hadn’t ridden this trail since the early or mid-90s and although I was expecting it to have changed, riding the trail was like visiting a foreign country for the first time. My recollection was of a fire road, non-technical, with a few short, steep stairsteps but mostly a pleasant slow climb up Bolinas Ridge to Ridgecrest where you turn around and then descend back to the parking lot. I thought it would be a good ride in our reintroduction of mountain biking back in the club.

I called the few remaining mountain bikers and they all couldn’t make it for one reason or another except for Roger Sayre and my husband, who was trusting in me to select a trail he could handle. Just the three of us wasn’t too surprising as dirt riding, which used to be so popular in Different Spokes, has all but vanished.

Right from the get-go I started questioning the accuracy of my memory when we got to the trailhead and there wasn’t a parking lot that I distinctly remembered was there. There wasn’t a lot in sight, and furthermore there was a seemingly aged, wooden fence with a very narrow stile as the only entrance. I looked around and nothing resembled what I had “imprinted” in memory. Could the lot have been removed? But the weathered fence belied that possibility.

Once we were rolling the general terrain was familiar but something was terribly different. The fire road was in horrible shape, pocked with rocks and potholes. But worse on every short incline the double tracks had become eroded mini-trenches demanding that you steer carefully and straight in order to proceed. The option of rolling outside these twin trenches was virtually impossible because the center was uneven, rocky and full of tufts of overgrown weeds and the sides of the trail had grass at least four feet tall with a surface of uncertain quality. The three of us lunged forward and a couple of times we ended up walking when we just couldn’t steer around the mini-trenches.

After almost two hours we had barely made it five miles. Roger turned around when the Marin Municipal Water District boundary had a sign that clearly forbade e-bikes. Roger S. and I continued on only a little bit further to a shady spot to rest before we turned around as well. At this rate it was going to be a long day and I didn’t want to miss lunch at the Olema Inn. On the way down I crashed; separately my husband also crashed—twice—but was comparatively unscathed. I ended up walking out to the car and we both headed to the ER.

Having to deal with a broken collarbone is painful and miserably inconvenient. But the most upsetting aspect of the day wasn’t the injury, it was the apparent unreliability of my memory. Was it a senior moment, a sign of impending decrepitude, or—hopefully—just the lack of trail maintenance? Not being able to do much of any value with a broken wing, I spent my recovery hours working on miscellaneous club tasks such as tying up the loose ends before the Marvelous Monterey Weekend. I was also doing some research on the club picnic by perusing my old ChainLetters when I ran across a ride listing for the Bolinas Ridge Trail in 1991. Who was the ride leader? To my surprise it was me! Actually there were two ride listings because I led the ride twice in a matter of months. Here is the listing and the two ride rumors:

July 1991 ChainLetter, Sunday July 7 Bolinas Ridge Run
Join Dennis [Westler] and Tony on a mountain bike jaunt over Bolinas Ridge that overlooks Mt. Tam and the Pacific Ocean. Starting just outside the town of Olema, a fire road rolls gently along Bolinas Ridge for 11 miles through redwood groves and open fields with terrific views. At Bolinas-Fairfax Road we turn around and go back the same way, and after the ride have a late lunch in town. Bring water, snacks, and a windbreaker (the weather is unpredictable). 3-B-22. Look for a very small parking area at the top of Bolinas Ridge on the left side of the curve.

October 1991 ChainLetter, Bolinas Ride Run
Alas, Prez Dennis Westler’s parents and nephew showed up in town and filial responsibilities required that he attend to their needs rather than ours, so he wasn’t able to co-lead this ride with me. Too bad, ‘cause this one turned into a real winner. I too had an out-of-town visitor, my old college roommate. But I borrowed Dennis’s bike and hauled Paul up with me for his first mountain bike ride.
Ten folks showed up , and mostly new I might add, since the only “old timers” were myself, the Den Daddy, and Dr. Bob. The weather was windy and thick with fog. But the gradual ascent up Bolinas Ridge was still beautiful. There were fewer wildflowers to entertain us, but plenty of cows.
Things got a bit muddy when we entered the redwoods—the fog dripped down steadily and turned the forest floor into a muddy obstacle course. There were big puddles and slippery tree roots, but no one seemed to flinch except wimpy old me. Most of the group was ahead of me and so I took my time picking the least muddy route around pools, mud patches and roots.
Fortunately I managed to stay less muddy than everyone else (remember, this is relative only), no doubt a victory of Fashion over Speed. I’m not sure how things were going with the main group since mostly everybody was ahead of me. Poor Anne [Dunn] was struggling far behind. Having just moved, she couldn’t find any of her bicycling clothing and had to ride in jeans and a borrowed helmet. Being last meant she had to close all those cattle guards too.
At the top it was easy to tell who was fearless. Generally they and their bikes were coated in a brown film. The descent back was terrific. The gonzos took off, and in a fit of insanity I actually tried to stay with the Den Daddy. I was screaming down rutty, gravelly sections at 35 mph—a tribute, I suppose, to demonic possession. Big fun!
At the end, most of the group trundled down to the Olema Inn for a stately lunch on white linen tabelcloths set on the outside deck, as the sun finally showed itself. Just another bodacious dirt ride.

Hitting 35 mph downhill? That would be impossible today with the utterly degraded terrain. My friend Paul had never ridden a mountain bike before and it’s impossible to believe I would have taken him on a super-technical ride!

November 1992 ChainLetter, Bolinas Ridge Run (October 19)
A small band of six dirt-o-philes showed up to climb Bolinas Ridge. The last time we did this trail, we had to put up with dense fog and muddy conditions. This time it was a picture-perfect day: brilliant sunshine, no fog, no smog, and warm. The climb up sure seemed harder than I remembered it, and the “2” terrain rating was probably conjured up in one of my rosy but hazy recollections of the undulating trail, which at times forced all of us into our lowest gears. It’s probably more of a “3”, or maybe even a “4”. Unfortunately this was an unpleasant surprise for Paul, a newcomer to the Club. Sorry about that, folks. (Hope you come back, Paul.)
The only untoward incident happened when the group unceremoniously left Paul and me behind, and then for the first time in my life my chain decided to snap in two, leaving me gearless on the hillside. What was irksome was that because I don’t have Hyperglide–which is notorious for chain breakage–I stupidly thought I would never need to bring a chain tool with me. Now I know better. Luckly Paul was able to forge ahead and the group was politely waiting for us under a tree. Prez Dennis zoomed back with a tool and in no time I was back in the saddle.
The sunny weather brought out the hordes as we passed many other hikers and bikers. At the top we ran into an enormous group from Single Cyclists preparing to descend Bolinas Ridge. We beat a hasty retreat after snarfing our PowerBars. Without the Den Daddy to inspire us, no one was in the mood to kamikaze, so our return to the cars was uneventful, although that gave us time to enjoy the view.
Afterwards we converged at the Olema Inn, which graciously reopened its kitchen to prepare a late lunch for our dusty little group. Just another fabulous Different Spokes mountain bike ride!

In the ride listing and ride rumors there is no mention of technical difficulty on the trail. Plus, the relatively benign terrain listing we gave it supports the recollection that the trail was just your standard fire road back then.

Then I ran into another ride rumor from 1999. In that period the annual club picnic was held at Samuel P. Taylor State Park, not China Camp, which is just down the road from the Bolinas Ridge trailhead and as part of the picnic festivities that year Doug O’Neill led a dirt ride on the Ridge:

July 1999 ChainLetter, Different Spokes Goes to the Cows
Perfection: bright sunshine, a gentle ocean breeze, and a challenging yet fun trail. This is what six riders enjoyed on the Samuel P. Taylor offroad ride. Three particularly brave riders, Ellen, Kevin, and Michael, were on their first offroad ride, completely unaware that they were witth the club’s only certifiably insane ride leader.
The initial climb to the Bolinas Ridge trail was a bit of a challenge, but not for studly Dan, who pedaled by some others who succumbed to the desire to walk a bit, or in David’s case, the need to adjust his seat height. At one particularly stunning crest, the group was stopped by a herd of cows in the middle of the trail. Not to be outdone by Dan’s earlier show of studliness, Michael cleared the path and saved the group from a charging bull. (The family nature of this publication prevents us from disclosing the technique used.)
The determined group made it up the final set of hills to the promised “big rock”—no, it was not some mythical place. Tired after their earlier feats, Dan and Michael decided to relax a bit, enjoying the rock, sun, birds, and the cirrus cloud formations—a moment away from the bustling and foggy city. Ever-ambitious Pam, apparently not challenged by the climb, decided to do a bit of crosscountry on the way back. Everyone enjoyed the long and picturesque descent to the feast waiting at the barbecue.

Again no mention of the trail being particularly technical and this was eight years later. To boot there were several newbie dirt riders that day!

So it is likely that my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me and that something happened to the trail after 1999. That’s still 20 years ago so one shouldn’t expect things to be exactly the same! Perhaps I was expecting it would receive regular trail maintenance. The Bolinas Ridge Trail runs through the GGNRA and Mt. Tam watershed area. The section where I crashed was under GGNRA control, which also controls the Marin Headlands trails, which do receive grading and maintenance. Yet the trail looked like it hadn’t seen a grader in years.

Perhaps one day it will see some love and be restored to what it once was. Although it behooves those of us who do ride dirt trails to volunteer to do trail maintenance, working on a fire road is really the provenance of heavy machinery operators. Nonetheless it was an exclamation point that trails don’t just take care of themselves and that human care through hard work, taxes, and donations is how we keep the trails we love. Will I go back? Probably. But memory will serve me right the next time.

The Dinner

Let the chomping begin…

There is a misconception perpetrated by the club’s velominati that getaway weekends are all about the rides. Tasty rides at infrequently visited yet gorgeous locations are the bait that hooks Spokers into signing up for a weekend away from home. The prospect of different roads and beautiful scenery away from the dull drudgery of laundry, slogging the grocery cart through Whole Foods or Gus’s, and another same-same takeout dinner always has good PR appeal. We all like to ride, right? So let’s go away together to cycle on some new, righteous paths! And yes, it’s true that riding of any sort but especially riding on new roads is generally heartwarming and refreshing.

Perhaps it was because I’m still nursing a fractured, not-yet-healed collarbone that the Marvelous Monterey Weekend rides didn’t make much of an impression on me, at least not this time. Roger and I went down for the Marvelous Monterey Weekend even though neither of us were planning to ride our bikes, in my case because it would have been insanely foolish and in Roger’s case because he, insanely, prefers to spend time with me than to ride some picturesque roads with friends. Yeah, go figure.

The MMW was almost a train wreck before it began. Four weeks ago we both crashed in a mountain bike ride and got injured, so much so that I ended up with a bum arm and no biking for eight weeks. Our ranks began depleting when separately two other Spokers had to cancel because of sudden work commitments. Then another participant had a family emergency and had to back out at the last minute. What else could happen? Maybe a tsunami while we’re in Monterey…?

Since we were the organizers we went down, and it was going to be a good escape from the manse where we mostly had been sequestering ourselves post-crash. Five of us made it down early enough on Friday to go out to dinner together in Seaside—David Go., Ginny, Roger S., Roger H. and I. We went to an inexpensive Vietnamese joint that had prices that would be impossible to match in SF. How about $6.99 for a huge dinner plate?! $1 more if you wanted a “large” platter when the regular size was huge! Thusly we were reminded of the true cost of living in the Bay Area. The place was fairly quiet despite having a steady stream of customers and we were able to have a pleasant dinner conversation without shouting or straining to understand due to the lack of cacophony.

Saturday Jenn and Steph along with Peter Phares joined us along with Jeff and Benson you couldn’t leave the Bay Area until after work. They all went out and did a good 53-mile ride while Roger and I went out to do a hike at Pt. Lobos. Which was so crowded that we switched to plan B and went to Andrew Molera. Folks came back to the rental house around 3:30, cleaned up and relaxed a bit, and then we prepared dinner together.

Ginny put together a scrumptious vegetarian enchilada casserole pretty much on her own, carefully chopping and sautéing the ingredients before composing the layers. We’d brought some homegrown tomatoes and basil for a simple bruschetta; normally it would have taken just a short time to make it but I am still having difficulty cutting or chopping. And forget lifting anything with the right arm! Roger cut up Bartletts, Gravensteins, and peaches from our garden along with other fruit we got from the market for a dessert. Jeff and Roger S. went to work starting the grill and barbecuing the chicken and portobello mushrooms. David put together a green salad with homemade croutons made by Peter. Roger and I had planned to bring down our own basil pesto but we only remembered it when we got to Castroville. Sigh. it doesn’t help to make a checklist if you don’t check it. So Costco pesto was the last-minute substitute.

Without much coordination dinner “organically” came together by itself. Yes, it took an hour longer than we thought therefore keeping a Different Spokes tradition alive: always be fashionably late! Working in an unfamiliar kitchen may have slowed us down but the earnestness of the labor and the everyone’s attentiveness made it all the more delicious.

Like the production of the meal the conversations around the table came about organically. They started even before we were preparing dinner, probably helped by the group-friendly dining table that made hanging out, noshing, and relaxing very easy. There was of course chat about—what else?—cycling, especially Different Spokes cycling with a lot of navel gazing and ruminations on the state of the club. I don’t recall how it got in the mix but I will never forget Jenn’s story about her nephew skinnydipping in the bat ray petting pool at the Monterey Bay Aquarium: lost five-year old flasher sets off frantic search! The aquarium is always crowded and the bat ray petting exhibit especially. How everyone could have “overlooked” a naked kid swimming with bat rays is incompre- oh wait, doesn’t that sort of shit happen on BART and no one blinks and eye? Other topics ranged from people’s phobias, having your bike stolen and blaming yourself (!) despite using a hefty U-lock, parking in SF, the resurrection of the restaurant scene in the Castro, adventures with pacemakers and Kaiser, taking care of aging parents, spin classes versus regular indoor trainers and riding in the rain, adventures of a new census worker, David and Roger’s seven flats at Napa… Well, you get the idea. It was another rambling set of discourses bouncing along disparate topics, and in that respect not a whole lot different from some club rides that start at a known location but sometimes end up somewhere quite unexpected. The dessert of fruit salad and ice cream with cookies was doled out and the gabbing continued. People were still chattering away at 10:30.

That is one of the pleasures of a getaway weekend: getting to know fellow Spokers better, going beyond “shop talk” (ie. bike nerd stuff), and learning that there is definitely more behind the Oakleys and Lycra.

What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits: the Orinda Pool Party 2019

Yes, I’m going to a party, party!

If you missed it yesterday, you will have to wait another year, the Orinda Pool Party and Ride that is. We had eleven people do the ride and eighteen at the party. I would love to give you a full report on the 10th edition however I missed the ride part due to a broken collarbone from a mountain biking accident. And no, it was not as David Go. remarked, “He broke it when he fell out of the sling!” although I was indeed sporting an arm sling as my new fashion accessory (basic black, of course, from the House of Kaiser!) Since everybody who rode made it safely to the manse with smiles, I assume that the ride was fabulous and that copious, gay chatter along the way added to everyone’s delight. Thanks to David Gaus and Stephanie Clarke for leading the ride and making sure the sheep did not go astray (and you know they like to stray).

So I’ll confine my remarks to the only part of the day I witnessed and that really mattered, the pool and the food! Special thanks to Jim Lemburg for assisting us with setting up for the party as lifting chairs and lugging food and daypacks around was a little bit too much for my bum arm and Roger had already been doing double-duty in prepping the garden, pool, and deck when I couldn’t help him much (if at all).

After almost a decade of the same menu—pesto with basil from the garden, Aidell’s sausages, and Caesar salad—we gave the meal a facelift- er, “meal-lift”. It’s not like we were still serving retro-fabulous dishes such as Baked Alaska, Vichysoisse, or Crab Rangoon (and if you don’t know what those are, you are not ‘of an age’) but almost as bad since pesto is so…1980s. And yes honey, it does taste delicious but as they say, how can you miss me if I don’t go away? That said, several people came up to me during the meal and expressed their sincere fondness for the homemade pesto, and perhaps next year it will launch a comeback tour!

What was the new menu? We decided to go full Americana—smoked pork ribs, cole slaw, and potato salad—to fit with summer. Some years ago we were invited by family friends to a barbecue where the son-in-law was smoking up a storm. We had a long conversation with him about smoking at home, and in a moment of stupendous lucidity Roger ordered one immediately after we arrived got home. After years of practice and experimentation now Roger has smoking ‘skilz’ and they were fully on display with the ribs. Everyone (well, except the vegans) was commenting on how delicious and tender they were, how the ‘meat fell right off the bone’, ‘those ribs had so much meat on them!’, ‘you knows I like to chew on tasty meat!’, etc. This time Roger used apple wood for the smoked flavor. The potato salad was the ‘hippie’ version with whatever we had in the fridge being chopped up and thrown in along with plenty of weed- er, herbs. The homemade cole slaw was, well, nothing special and I didn’t see anybody spitting it out after tasting it, so it must have been palatable.

More than quiche and mimosas?

Fortunately for the vegans we had some delicious non-animal dishes as well. We provided vegan cole slaw and potato salad in addition to the regular kind; Lamberto and Joe brought vegan chili (“We used the Instant Pot!”); and Jim made a delicious lentil dish.
This year the A-M group had to bring desserts and because we were A-M heavy we had a lot of desserts. I didn’t taste them all but the homemade lime bars that Chris made were OMG “oishi” and Darrell’s chocolate brownie cake was “sugoi!” And Stephanie, was that incredibly sweet melon and delectable prosciutto a “dessert”? No matter. The prosciutto was “rustic” (cinghiale?) and fantastic. (She must have smuggled a stash home of The Real Stuff on their last trip to Italy!)

Besides the splishin’ and splashin’ in the pool, the lunch was long with conversation; we didn’t break up until the sun had moved well towards the horizon and no longer needed the awnings to keep the back deck from feeling like the portico to hell.

Where to Ride, Pt. 2

Jammed Tokyo Subway2
“There’s room for more–pack ’em in!”

It’s just beginning to dawn on residents of the Bay Area that it is nigh impossible to build our way out of traffic congestion. Folks realize that the land available for high speed road and freeways just isn’t there—the core of the Bay Area is not going to get any major new roads. Currently CalTrans and local agencies are trying to extract “efficiencies” from existing roads by trying to engineer the hell out of our existing infrastructure. So what we get are reductions in freeway shoulders and medians in order to add a lane, synchronizing traffic lights, metering lights to optimize traffic flow at onramps, and speed studies of roads to bring speed limits up to the 85th percentile rule. For the most part these efforts accept that car driving should not be impeded unless absolutely necessary. Of course this isn’t completely true: for example freeways such as the Central and the Embarcadero have been torn down. I’m not sure that removing either of them reduced congestion. Push back from cycling advocates has produced more bike lanes, some at the expense of car lanes. But generally what commuters want is faster commutes by car, not mass transit or bikes. So transit agencies are loathe to do overt social engineering to force drivers out of cars. Instead they attempt to alleviate the pain that comes with driving a car on congested roads.

It’s equally difficult to expand mass transit infrastructure such as BART, Caltrain, or high speed rail. Perhaps there is a naive belief that mass transit expanded ad infinitum will solve congestion. We hear talk of a second transbay tube for BART and extending the BART system further eastward into Brentwood (Pittsburg-Bay Point line) and Livermore and beyond to the Central Valley (Dublin line). The reasoning seems to be, “If we have BART go to cities where commuters flee, then they’ll stop driving their cars and traffic congestion will go down.” I used to believe this: building more BART/Caltrain/SMART/etc. will get drivers off freeways. But I don’t believe it anymore.

Just as road building is growth inducing—building more roads to reduce congestion actually leads to increased traffic and fills to capacity—we can expect the same effect with BART. Assuming that BART can even catch up with existing demand–that’s a big if–building more BART may temporarily reduce congestion (both on the freeway and in getting a seat on BART). But more capacity will likely induce growth in transit use and lead to…more congestion. As it becomes more tolerable to commute by BART from Pittsburg, and then Antioch, and then Brentwood, and then further east, it exacerbates the growth pressure on those communities. That will drive housing prices up as those communities now have an asset—shorter commutes by BART—that will then drive growth further eastward.

There’s no end to this process.

So what does all this have to do with cycling? If you throw your bike in a car and drive to a ride start, it’s not going to get better. You’re still going to get stuck in traffic unless you drive during off-peak times and the likelihood of you spending even more time in the car is going to go up. Short of a dramatic economic downturn, I don’t see how it can get better and it sure isn’t going to stay the same. If and when BART expands it will make it easier to go further away from the central Bay Area. But what the roads at those end points will look like is a dreary prospect; the roads will be built for suburban traffic. If you want to see what that means, go to Antioch today. You’ll find wide boulevards with occasional strip malls dividing up the subdivisions, in other words nothing much you’d want to spend any time riding on. Antioch city roads are designed to speed car commuters quickly to the next arterial.

What about the roads close to home? Infilling and taller, denser housing are going to mean more people, which means more cars. Do you really think people will give up car ownership even if their condo doesn’t have a dedicated parking spot, even with Uber and Lyft? I don’t think so. Since roads won’t be increasing, it means more traffic congestion and very likely more traffic on the roads we like to cycle as commuters forsake clogged arterials for secondary roads. Even when traffic is nightmarish people still drive. The future doesn’t look good for us.

I’ve come to believe that the mantras about better roads, better mass transit, more housing, and especially more housing equals less commuting are all bandaids for the real problem: growth. None of these pie-in-the-sky solutions is going to make it better—they perhaps stand a chance of making things less worse in the shortrun. Accommodation for growth allows more growth. At what point does it become so unlivable that people stop coming to the Bay Area? Unless growth itself is addressed we as cyclists better get used to riding on more dangerous and no less congested roads.

Different Spokes Chiang Mai!

“Wearing our freak flag high”

This past winter longtime Spoker Roy Schachter ditched the 40+ hour per week grind to retire to Thailand, specifically Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Of course one of the difficult parts of his move was, “Gee, which bikes should I take to my new home??” [The only right answer is ‘all of them!’]

“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”

You’ll find him there now enjoying the hella good life, studying Thai, riding his bikes when it’s not incredibly hot and the air quality is tolerable, and brushing up on the typology of Thai boys.

While it’s raining like heck here, it’s 96F and 90% humidity in Chiang Mai…

Ride Recap: Tour of Lamorinda to the Creekside Grill

Boy, that was a hard ride!

Talk about being a lazy bastard, this ride started and ended near our house, went down a multi-use trail I use several times a week, and traveled streets I’ve done so frequently I could probably do them blindfolded. Ah, but there was one twist: despite having lived near Rossmoor for 16 years and having friends live there (including the Den Daddy) I have cycled on its roads exactly once before. Until this ride. So now it’s twice! Last year we did a Social A ride that ended up at an excellent restaurant in Lafayette. Unfortunately the rest of the world had also discovered this fact and not wanting to wait an hour for a table, at Derek’s suggestion we rolled over to nearby Rossmoor, where he lives, to have lunch at its Creekside Grill. That was a good move because it was not crowded at all, had delicious food and a fawning staff used to catering to an obviously entitled elderly crowd (a demographic that I have immediately adjusted to with glee now that I have a Senior Clippercard). We had a memorable al fresco lunch on their pleasant outdoor patio next to a stream, hence the eponym.

I’ve always wanted to go back and thus this ride. Although I still occasionally like to turn a pedal ‘in anger’ as Phil Liggett says, I saw the light many years ago in Italy where every cyclist stops for a REAL lunch—I mean like a three or four course lunch that lasts at least an hour and a half—and I always look forward to a delicious repast mid-ride these days. (And no, I’m not talking about going to Subway!) Clif bars will do in a pinch but a good ride has an excellent food stop where one can enjoy a proper meal. So it is with the Creekside Grill.

Roger Sayre and Bill Knudsen joined Roger and me although they had no inkling that the central highlight of the day was going to be lunch. Nonetheless we sauntered out to Moraga to catch the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, an excellent rails-to-trails path. Everybody had the right frame of mind and we headed out at a B pace chatting away. Down the path we went and because it was a Saturday morning there were plenty of peds, doggers, and kiddies along the way, all the more reason to keep the pace al piano all the way to Walnut Creek and thence to Rossmoor.

You are probably thinking, “Isn’t Rossmoor a gated community?” Why, yes it is! If you approach in a car, you will be accosted at the security gate and asked whom you are visiting. But if you arrive á bicyclette you do not need to be subjected to such indignities. So we rolled right through with nary a glance from the guards and made our way to the Creekside Grill. You may be wondering what Rossmoor is like. Well, let’s just say the association fees are well spent: it’s manicured to the nth degree with a lovely greenway heading up to the nearby hills. The Den Daddy and I had agreed he would meet us for lunch. But when I phoned, he was in Santa Barbara enjoying a warm, sunny day in his hometown! So Bill and Roger would not get the spiel from him on how delightful it is at Rossmoor, how there’s a fabulous LGBT group, a cycling group as well, how politically left the Democratic club is, etc.

This time the Grill was hopping but fortunately we scored a table in the bar and did not have to wait. We were quite hungry despite having done an easy jaunt. I hadn’t had breakfast and apparently neither had Bill who while riding prated on and on about donuts and where the nearest confectionary might be. Despite the chasms in our stomachs we were quite demure in ordering: both Bill and Roger S had the Creekside Sirloin Burger while Roger H had the Rossmoor Reuben and got my fave, the Riviera Charbroiled Chicken Breast Sandwich. It was all delish and even their French fries were not at all run-of-the-mill and were pleasantly crisp and crunchy. Lunch was of course occupied with idle, pointless conversation. But most of it revolved upon Bill’s imminent departure to explore the country by—gasp!—RV. Ever the trendsetter Bill has gone “tiny house” on us and deserting Wanderson to follow his Wanderlust. But he’s taking his bikes with him so he can ride with LGBT cycling clubs all around the US!

After a long lunch Bill popped a front spoke in the parking lot and after much consternation and discussion we headed off back to Orinda anyway. Bill made it fine even with a slightly bum front wheel.