Our Maestro spoke during yesterday’s Falstaff rehearsal of finding joy. Specifically, when something isn’t seriously harmful and you can live with it, attempt to turn the experience into one of joy. To me, this is so much more appealing than the old saying, “that which won’t kill you will make you stronger”.
Today I had a window of time to go for a bike ride, thanks to Baby A’s grandparents. I was so excited to get on my newly tuned-up Supersix and ride somewhere other than to and from work! The 15th avenue climb into the Presidio felt so easy and I immediately attributed it to my bike. Then I remembered that since there’s no granny gear climbing should be harder than on my Bianchi and I thought maybe, just maybe the ease had to do with my legs getting stronger. My bike commute is short but regular with a climb on the way home that I often do with violin on my back, toting clothes and food (and farmers market treasures yesterday!). Reaching the top of the hill, I zipped through the Presidio and came to a screeching halt as I approached the bridge. There were school groups and tourists galore enjoying a fabulous sunny morning and a stunning view. Argh. Why in the world can’t they leave the biking side of the bridge open during the day?! I practiced my balance as I slowed and stopped without unclipping several times, but eventually made it to the other side. Then it was up, up, up the Headlands. I was immediately humbled by the first steep portion and it was through my grimace that I remembered the quote about finding joy. Hurting on a bike ride is hardly life-threatening so it was simple for me to take a deep breath and smile out at the sparkling blue expanse of Pacific Ocean. A Headlands climb never felt easier and I reached the top in record time. I stopped for several minutes to appreciate the beauty at my feet and chatted with another triumphant cyclist.
I’d seen signs about construction on my way up but decided to take my chances down the backside and through the tunnel loop anyway. The very steep descent left me gripping my handlebars, shoulders tense. There’s nothing like a drop-off, switchback road to get adrenaline pumping. I think it’s been over two years since I did this descent. I certainly wasn’t riding it when I was pregnant and I haven’t even been up the headlands since Baby A was born 18 months ago! The back roads were windy and I could feel fall in the air. This is my favorite season and most years I feel sad that it doesn’t really visit the bay area. I make up for it by indulging in pounds of fresh market squash and spiced apple cider. However, this year we are definitely having a fall season and I love it! Shortly after I was back to sea level I had to stop in a long line of cars waiting for construction. Once we finally started moving, I found that the rest of my route was gravel. Not liking to ride on gravel I chose to turn off and ride back up and over the Headlands. I almost never used to do the double climb and I’d already decided not to push myself too hard today. So much for that. As I gritted my teeth and pushed hard, I commanded myself to “Find Joy!”, then started giggling at the tone of voice I was using with myself. I was reminded of what the pediatrician told me earlier this week. She said that I didn’t need to push “please” and “thank you” to Baby A at this point because although he would parrot the phrases, he wouldn’t yet comprehend the meaning. Her philosophy is that many adults say “Thank You!” because they were taught it is the correct thing to say but they don’t connect the words with an emotional meaning. So I took a gentler tone with myself and smiled my way up the hill. (Yes, I know how cheesy this sounds!)
Back at the bridge, I heard a cyclist coming off the expanse exclaim “That’s always a _#_*%_ adventure!” An adventure is what we call it, huh? I remember the adventure when somebody stepped in front of me and didn’t hear me yelling and even though I was moving at a snail’s pace I still ran into her then couldn’t unclip my right foot fast enough and fell into the person next to me. Somehow her white pants didn’t catch any bike grease. That was embarrassing. And there was the other adventure when the guard rail was too low on the west side of the bridge and one cyclist decided to pass another who was already passing a third. They collided and first guy flipped, ending up on his head in oncoming bridge traffic. By some miracle, traffic was moving slowly that day and he wasn’t hurt. I’ll save my adventures for somewhere else, thank you!
Now that I’ve taken the leap back into cycling with a double Headlands climb, I think I’ll make an effort to do it more often. I’ve got about a dozen babysitters on speed dial so I can no longer use the “I have a baby” excuse. Who wants to join me?
the workout: 15ish miles, two big climbs