A sense of gloom hung in the unseasonably cooled air this morning. Fog and clouds drifted aimlessly by the top of the mountain. The odd patch of blue taunted with promises of a better day to come from the western skies. Quite the morning we picked for a ride from Larkspur Landing to Tam Junction in Mill Valley, my friends and I. But there I was, saddled up, waiting for my friends to finish their yoga class. Worried about my ability to keep up with them through my first significant climb – a laughable grade for most seasoned cyclists – I wasn’t going to join them in yoga class and risk getting so tired that I would have to walk the bike up the hill, instead of grind my way up to the top. A fit lot my friends are, and I am not quite in their league yet.
As we pedaled through traffic (a big yikes factor for me), then moved to quieter streets and on toward Horse Hill, the wind got a chillier edge and the air was studded with mist. All of which was of great help in keeping me cool on the bike, in more ways than one, I suppose. The oldest of my friends left me and the other friend, who was probably a little concerned about me, in the dust, so to speak. She was pedaling with incredible ease, as if this were just play to her, but still I lost sight of her as she cycled on ahead, and even though she wore a bright yellow jacket.
Once we started to climb along Meadowsweet Drive, my pride took over the pedaling. And that was a good thing too, because left to my own devices I would have gotten off the bike and then pushed it up the last few feet. As it was, my pride pushed me right over the edge, and then let me off the hook with an easy coast down the gentle hilll. From there it was a breeze along the bike path by Richardson Bay – a breeze whipped up at the edges a little brighter by the swarms of other cyclists. We made it to the café, our destination, for brunch in pretty good time.
The return trip loomed larger in my imagination as I sipped my coffee. There was talk of going over Camino Alto, the route “real” cyclists take as a matter of course, but I was too chicken for both the anticipated climb and descent. So we headed back the way we came near the gentler slopes of Horse Hill, to Meadowsweet Drive.
The climb back seemed easier, but that was probably due to my mounting freak-out over the first sustained (well, longer than 1 minute) descent that was awaiting me on the other side of Meadowsweet Drive. At the top of our climb, I shifted gears to slow the bike even more, gently applied pressure on the rear brake, and then proceeded to desperately grip the handles. And down I went…. Slowly, on account of the gear and brakes. Near the bottom, I caught a glimpse of Mt. Tam as if it were trying to break free of the fog and clouds that were holding it back. Had I been riding solo, I would have stopped to take a picture. As it was, I let go of the brakes and I let go of my grip on the handles and rolled with more speed and a dollop of glee all the way to the bottom, where my friends were patiently waiting for me.