Today the plan was to ride with my friend Ron over to the Marin Headlands (some serious climbing) then, on to Tiburon for lunch and hoping to do this all before the rain came.
The reality of our "finite existence" seemed to be the ongoing theme repeating it's self over and over in my head today. Along with the tragedy in Newtown CT. yesterday which my mind is finding it impossible to come to terms with, It has finally come to a time where revisiting an old dark shadow from the past would be impossible to avoid.
I have not ridden the Marin Headlands since the mid 90's. I did run a Marathon there two weeks ago. "The North Face Endurance Challenge". So, when Ron mentioned this week about doing a ride there on Saturday, I decided it was time to go back there again to enjoy that scenic and challenging place.
|Courtesy Rons Photo|
The Dark Past:
Through the late 80's and into the 90's there was one particular friend of mine who I basically rode to the Moon and back with. For a period of two years we rode every bike century and a couple of double century rides together. We joined the same bike club and kept up a close friendship together with his wife and my wife riding with us a lot of the times.
He had a bit of a crazy side to him. Loved the downhill speed and was always trying to do one better on the descents.
As it goes so many times in life, friends get involved in other people and places and my life and work situation forced me to drift away from the the bike people who together with, I had spent so many years rolling through thousands of miles of beautiful Northern California.
Around July 1997 I got a call from one of the old bike group members. She was shaken to the core and was barely able to get out the news to me that my friend had died in a horrific bike crash going down the backside of the Marin Headlands descent.
This was the first time that "a friend" had un-expectantly passed away. It was a reality check, a wake up call and realization how death could be so devastating to people who are close.
Over the years I just could not bring myself to revisit the site where he lost control of his bike and met an untimely fate. It just weird-ed me out and I had to put it out of my mind for for probably too long...Until now.
As we began the climb from the Golden Gate bridge I began to feel some anxiety and queasiness... We descended down the backside and eased into that infamous turn...
As it turned out as I rode my brakes and took it all in. I felt only a sadness and actually looked at it analytically realizing how this happened and how easy it could happen to someone who took these type of extreme chances in life.
I thought how much I missed those times riding with him and experiencing the challenges together. He was with me when I won my first race, first century and first double century.
Such a tragic thing in such a beautiful spot. I forgot about how majestic and serene this amazing place can be.
Here I am now riding with another great friend (who I don't worry about as much).
The good thing is, I've moved on now. Come to terms with something that has been hidden away for too long.
Such is life. We get past these horrible moments in life and do the best we can to not let it happen again.
Everything must pass...
The Ride: Ganghem Style with Ron
I met up with Ron at Sports Basement, as always so good to see my friends. Since the weather held no promises, I think most of the sane people decide to stay home and keep dry.
Not a Hell of a lot of tourists crisscrossing the bike paths or the bridge way. It was quite cold but after the Bridge we began the ascent to the top of the Headlands and warmed up pretty quickly.
I was surprised at how much easier the climb was on my one speed. Probably from all the running and building a lot more core strength in the past few months.
Seeing the bunkers, gun turrets and feeling the echoes of the war years gone by brought back those feelings of finality and futility. What's that shit all about I think to myself. I don't get it. This human drive to annihilate one another and ourselves. I'm so lucky to not have gone through all of that like my father did...Wait a minute...I am and we are all still going through this. It never ends...
Man, I just want to get off my bike now and RUN! I love this area and all the beautiful trails.
Finally we head down towards Sausalito and out along the bike paths sloppy from the "King tides" we've experienced this week.
We make good time rounding the loop and as we come back into Tiburon Center I realize I'm getting a flat in my rear tire.
We decide to stop at our favorite halfway restaurant "Casa Manana". Great call. Delicious meal. I fix my flat and it's getting really cold and starting to rain, we head out.
At this point I'm ready to be done. I don't do rain very well. I actually promised myself I would never ride in it for the rest of my life...I lied!
We blasted through Sausalito and up the grind to the Bridge. I was passing a lot of riders so I knew I was making good time.
When I crossed the bridge I only saw one person coming towards me. Pretty amazing for a Saturday!
I met up with Ron back at Sports Basement. The last time I did this ride with Him I adopted a dog at a mobile adoption event there and this is what I went home with...
My little Layla at Sports Basement, almost exactly 2 years ago.
This time I rolled in and lo and behold...Doggies!
Unfortunately or fortunately how ever you look at it they were someone else's dogs so, not a chance for me to claim them.
Oh well, you win some you lose some.
We did close to 50 miles for the day, got completely soaked but it was well worth it and I was able to move through a painful memory and come out the other-side with a better perspective and a shot of confidence to boot!