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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Fog

This must come across as rather obvious to most folks, but, if you can't see and others can't see you - don't ride your bike.

But oh how the short days make for a very long off season!
Many use the time out of the saddle to cross train with running, weight lifting, knitting, and other cardiopulmonary activities. But face it, these can be soooo boring.
By the third or fourth week of the winter daylight schedule, that bike is looking rather tempting.

So I've been going out at odd times, and racing daylight.
A few weeks back I rode to the start of one of our runs, locked up the bike in Vince's truck, then returned home in the pitch black. That return trip nearly cost me though, as an oncoming import nearly turned left into me. Way too close.

To make things even worse, the fog rolled in for nearly a solid week. If you want to see depressed Californians, stick them in the fog for a few days.

Our monthly men's prayer breakfast landed on a foggy Saturday morning. The low temperature was in the upper 30's, and the regularly scheduled "ride to breakfast" found me riding alone. There were a variety of excuses from the others...Wimps. I had planned a small climb up Bailey Rd., a notoriously narrow and winding climb just a few miles shy of our destination. Visibility was a generous 1/8 of a mile at initial cruising altitude, but the climb was already suspect. At several points along the way it occurred to me that the pass may indeed be impassible. But, to the reader's surprise...I pressed on. Two pre-selected detours faded back into the fog as I chose to press toward the goal, rather than take one of those shorter routes.

Concord Blvd. gradually shortened, till as far as I knew, it may have only been a few hundred feet long. The sign for Bailey Rd. emerged from the mist and passed by on the right as I turned left, and began the trip across the valley toward the ascent. The Concord Naval Weapon's station, soon to be converted into mid priced condo's, was at one point serviced by a short railway, connecting this valley to the Sacramento / San Joaquin river delta. At these tracks I stopped and contemplated. Oh how I wanted to be able to say I had climbed Bailey Rd with 50' visibility. Oh how I wanted to survive it.

I survived...

...I turned back and went the other way.

(Waiting for applause from my mother and wife to subside)

I arrived at the prayer breakfast 30 minutes late - and soaked.
I never quite got warmed up, in spite of several cups of coffee and an incredible spread. Several offered their trucks to drive me home, but that would never do.

The dreary miles home were accompanied by a slight breeze from the east swirling the mist and dragging my breath on ahead as I slowed for the climbs.

Again - the hot shower, bedroom slippers, and the latest copy of Bicycling Magazine, upon arrival at my couch.

Again, - worth it. Barely.

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