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dreaming in the shadows of the Sleeping Maiden

Mt. Tamalpais, July 21, 2012

Mt. Tam glimpsed from the hills of Greenbrae

It’s hot outside. Seems as hot as it was cold at the beginning of the week. The air, which was so breezy yesterday, is weighed down and stuffy, as if the heat had the heft to corral the wind. Weather like this sheathes the mountain in layers of blue, rendering it porous in the distance.

The only thing that stayed crisp in view as I was taking photos earlier happened to be the largish flag that seems to have its own generator of winds to keep it fluttering from the outcropping on which it is perched.

Earlier today, when it was still cool, I took my bike to Fairfax to learn about gears and hills in a class in the series of Women on Wheels, held by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.

I don’t mind the ride uphill. My issue with that direction is one of being slightly out of shape, not having quite enough power in the legs and lungs to keep going up. What I mind is going downhill. A kind of primal fear takes over as the bike starts to accelerate. The hands, no longer in my conscious control, grip the handlebars for dear life. The legs, shaky as they are, seem unable to assume that 3 and 9 o’clock position conducive to stability.

Sure enough, our somewhat steep “hillette,” a relatively steep, but very short climb, had the fear saddling up on the bike at the top. The first ride down was in the hands of that fear and in the grip of the brake pads that clung to the rims of the tires. The second descent was a little faster, the legs a little more willing to stay put in position, but the brake pads still glued to the rims of the tires. By the third descent, the fear got a little behind as the hands released their grip on the brakes.

By the time we were practicing riding downhill along the curves of another hill, the fear, exhausted, decided to stay put up at the ridge. I think it’s still there, sitting in the midday heat in Fairfax, waiting for a ride home.