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Lost, sunburned, and in need of a chai latte

March 25, 2013

arlington el cerritoSo, yesterday I went on my first group training ride with the excellent folks from the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.  35 miles seemed like a realistic next step up from 25 miles, even if it was three weeks ago.  The ride description seemed very comprehensive, and promised that if I got to the top of Grizzly Peak, I’d be ready for the biggest hill on Climate Ride.  Peter gave me the go-ahead for a few hours off and I projected that I might be home by 1pm.

At 9am, I met about 20 riders (whoa!) at Rockridge BART, signed a liability waiver, got a cue sheet, and off we went.  Up up up on Tunnel Road like my normal little ride, but this one would continue much farther.  I relaxed my normal pace – since I usually have about an hour to bust out the 11 miles of Tunnel-Claremont before resuming parent duties – and chatted with a few different people on the way up.  It was gorgeous and I even put sunscreen on…my legs.

Up top we rolled up and down, stopped at the Tilden Steam Trains for a snack, and then continued past the Wildcat Canyon turnoff into uncharted territory.  I kept a few folks in sight on a big downhill, and luckily for me I noticed their absence at one point and caught a sneaky right-hand zag on the route.  I don’t have a cue clip on my handlebars so I was trusting the pack to guide me.  (Add to pre-trip shopping list: cue clip.)

El Cerrito was gorgeous and then we descended into San Pablo, where folks gathered at a little strip mall to let people catch up.  Some of the group started into a taqueria, and others looked confused – was this a stop?  It’s only 11:30.  I started to wonder if my timeframe had been off, but I felt like I should eat some more so I decided not to join the breakaway group that kept riding.  After downing half my bag of trail mix and sharing a teammate’s platanos, I was ready for more, but also a little worried that I might not be on time for my turn at parenting/family time.

As we started rolling again, I tried to keep up with the people who had been talking about their 85-mile ride the day before.  Ooops.  They must have decided to add some mileage because halfway down San Pablo Dam Road, I lost them. I also couldn’t see anyone behind me, after cranking a bit along a relatively flat stretch.  Bad group member?  Anxious, chronically late mama.

But I knew I was supposed to turn left on Miner Road, and end up on Happy Valley, so I felt great when I saw the sign for Miner.  And then there were all these great “bike route” signs!  Thanks, Contra Costa County!  Especially that one that pointed away from the ritzy-looking subdivision.  (The subdivision I was supposed to enter, had I taken a look at the cue sheet in my pocket.)

Miner Road in Moraga is STEEP.  I am pretty opposed to standing up to get up a hill, but even in my lowest granny gear I had to grind on a couple of inclines.  Finally I crested and, feeling quite accomplished, started looking for Happy Valley.  Except I wasn’t on Miner Road any more.  And there was no Happy Valley, and neither of the names on the street signs at the next intersection appeared on my map.  I hadn’t gone down very far, but I definitely didn’t want to go back up – or be any later than I was already destined to be, with my watch already reading 12:55 p.m.

Luckily a VERY nice woman in a white VW bug stopped and asked if I was lost.  I had been doing my best to act lost after four or five cars sped by without noticing, thank goodness it worked!  While I was far from Happy Valley, her simple directions suggested I was not too far from my final destination: Lafayette BART.  Gratefully I continued down the hill, and after one more confusion point (which I figured out without assistance) I arrived at BART around 1:30 p.m.

My first text was the apologetic ETA text to Peter. (I send a lot of those.)  My second text was to the two people on the ride whose cell phones numbers I had, telling them I got lost but was safe.  As I sat down to rest my tired self on a bench, the intended recipients of my text walked up to say hi!  Apparently I saved absolutely no time at all by hoofing it uphill all alone.  Sigh.

On the way home, I noticed my lobster arms.  It’s been a while since I’ve done anything that would threaten sunburn (swimming outdoors in the pool for an hour at 5:30 a.m.?  Not so much) so when I took off my windbreaker it didn’t occur to me that my bare arms might appreciate some sunscreen.  But the best part of the whole day happened when I got home.

chai latteI felt great after that ride.  I felt awesome on BART, reunited with my group and having survived 35+ miles and a lot of elevation.  And then I felt ridiculously zonked when I got home.

After showering, I told Peter he could do whatever he wanted for a while as compensation for the longer-than-expected solo dad morning.  When he vanished, I tried unsuccessfully to convince A to have a second nap with me.  Then I tried to set her up with painting so I could make dinner.  Then I decided I absolutely, completely, utterly NEEDED an Oregon Chai Spice Latte packet AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

But I couldn’t find any.  We had a whole box a few weeks ago – where did it go?  A sucked on a sponge covered in washable kids paint (hopefully non-toxic) as I tore through the cupboards seeking sugar.  The kettle boiled.  I couldn’t find our camping supplies.  Peter finally returned to find a confused toddler covered in orange, red, and green paint while her mother stood on a stool manically searching for a powdered substance in a little purple packet.

Peter kindly searched on my behalf, and even checked the earthquake supplies to see if there were any in there.  Then he suggested a glass of apple juice.  “Is it COLD?” I asked.  “Yes, in the fridge,” he replied cautiously.  That sounded good.  I downed a pint of juice and about 10 minutes later I was human again.  This, I believe, is what is known as “bonking.”

Lessons learned?  I have a long way to go to hit 60 miles and then be able to hang with my kiddo afterwards.  But I’m on my way…


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