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Rain, schmain.

April 2, 2013
Pre-bike Easter pancakes.

Pre-bike Easter pancakes.

Easter Sunday’s forecast was 70% chance of showers with thunderstorms.  Thunderstorms!  One of the things I miss most about my east coast roots is thunder.  Normally, this would be a happy weather report for me.

But Sundays are my training day.  Biking in the rain is kinda cold.  Going over hills during thunderstorms is not always safe.  I told Peter I’d try to leave by 9 or 10am because I knew it was going to be hard to get out the door in the rain.

Of course, when your child wakes you up by 6:30am each morning, that leaves lots of time to motivate.  By 8am, we had completed our celebratory egg hunt and pancake breakfast.  And…I saw blue skies!  So by 8:30am I was out the door to ride Three Bears.

Biking in the East Bay often means riding through two different climates.  The western (Bay) side of the hills is warmer in the winter, but can also be foggier and wetter.  The east side is more desert-like, so early in the morning there might be frost, but by afternoon in the summer it could be 85 degrees.  Sometimes both sides of the hills are super sunny but the ridgeline is socked in with misty fog.  I packed an extra set of clothes because I had no idea what awaited me up top or down on the other side.

I also packed a lot of food because this ride is very rural, and I didn’t want to repeat last week’s bonkfest.

Up at Inspiration Point, I got a glimpse of a dramatic, John Steinbeck-y vista of dark, looming clouds casting shadows over the still-green hills.  I stretched, snacked, and then started rolling again.  I think it’s the first time in nearly nine years that I’ve ridden down Wildcat Canyon.  It’s exhilarating.

One of the downsides to *not* riding with a group is that, since I have trained myself to ride my normal one-hour, 12-mile loop at a fast pace so I can get home ASAP and resume parenting, I have to concentrate pretty hard on pacing.  If I injure myself, it’s not just me who suffers – our whole car-free, bike-reliant routine would collapse into dependence on (relatively) slow, expensive public transportation.  I did the bus trip to day care and then work when I was sick in February.  It kinda sucks.

As I turned onto Castro Ranch Road, I see flares and four police cars ahead.  It’s always extra nerve-wracking for me to come upon a crash when I’m biking, and one of the last times I rode Three Bears with Peter we saw a motorcycle fatality, which I’d been trying not to think about.  This time I was treated to the sight of a car flipped upside down in the ravine next to the road.  There were a couple of people calmly walking around with phones so I told myself that it was their car and they’re fine.

View from the saddle

View from the saddle approaching Alhambra Valley Road

The weather seemed to be on my side: more gorgeous shadowscapes as I turn onto Alhambra Valley Road.  As always, I couldn’t delineate the several rolling hills to actually know which three are the “bears.”  But soon enough I returned to the bottom of Wildcat Canyon and decided to view the final big climb as my warm-down.

Towards the top, I started to hear a thunk-thunk noise at my feet.  Yep, a flat.  I was pretty close to Inspiration Point so I walked out to the benches and took the rare opportunity to sit on a comfortable seat with a great view while I patched my tire.  A friendly rider pulled up and offered a hand while I was waiting for the glue to dry.  I accepted help with my least favorite part: getting the tire back on.  Thank goodness!  The little pump I carry is pretty lame, and he had a CO2 cartridge – so instead of spending 15 minutes trying to get my tire inflated I was back on the road pretty quickly, trying not to feel conflicted about the spent cartridge.  (I was late for parenting, after all.)

The rain finally caught up with me at Milvia and Russell, about 1.75 miles from home.  Total ride is 42 miles, according to Peter (I forgot to check my computer at the end).  Legs felt good and some additional Easter dessert in the afternoon staved off any possibility of a delayed blood sugar crash.  I think I can do this!

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