Riding around the Oakland Hills

Or, why the bay area is awesome.

Firstly let me setup why I’m attempting to start blogging again.  A few years ago I read some biking articles by a guy called the Fat Cyclist. He was/is hilarious, especially a post on why cyclists shave their legs (it’s okay I haven’t gone there).  Through Lance Armstrong’s twitter I found him again.  Things had changed a lot, his wife Susan was fighting cancer and there was Eldon sharing his life with everyone in a way that impressed be beyond words.  Susan passed away a few weeks ago and I was deeply moved by her and Eldon’s story. Really go away now and read some of his blog, if you don’t laugh, cry  (sometime both at once) and feel like should should do something to help fight… well I don’t know what, but you should.  I was so moved that my self pity at reaching 100kgs (220 pounds) again seemed so insignificant and easy to fix that I got my bike out, my aim is to join Team Fatty for next years Livestrong Challenge, so be prepared to be pestered for donations.

If you’ve know me for a while (i.e. any time greater than about 20 minutes), you’ll know I tend to get reasonably “into” things from time to time.  For a while in NZ I mountain biked, a lot.  Mainly shuttling up the hill and riding down.


What a cool dude, dude.

Since I moved back to Australia and then to the US I’ve been riding sporadically (I bought a road bike not long after I got here), mainly because I’ve been hanging around on the weekends hoping there would be enough wind to kiteboard.   Then I realised I’ve done a lot of kiting in the last 10 years, and riding a bike would be a good way to make a few new friends and lose the weight I’ve managed to gain waiting for the aforementioned wind.  I turned up at the Oakland Yellow Jackets weekly ride about 3 weeks ago, after having done a few after work rides, and rode 54 miles (86 kilometers, sorry I’ve had to finally convert to miles so people have some clue as to what I’m talking about when riding).  I guess I had a reasonable amount of fitness left over from the occasional lunch time runs PC and I do.  Needless to say I was hooked.  The amount of stuff you can see in 50ish miles is pretty impressive so I was pretty exited to ride 77 miles (120 kms) the next weekend.  We ended up riding a bit further thanks to a helpful local who sent us up a windy, bumpy hot road on an extra 4 mile loop.  More ride reports on those rides later.  For now lets try and reach something like “a point”.

Today I had a something to do in the afternoon so I had to do a ,now short feeling, 30 mile (48km) ride so I was home by lunch time.  I rode up a hill I’ve been riding after work and down the other side.  As Celia had convinced me to finally get a decent camera I figured I’d take a few snaps along the way.  Problem being, I’m an idiot and don’t like stopping so you get about 4 photo’s and a map.  Impressive huh? So let’s begin.

startHere’s the start, I’m heading up into the hill in the background.  It’ll take about 1/2 an hour and a small gear to get there.

tunneltopI get to the top and need to remind myself I’m in northern California.  There are so many Eucalyptus trees.  If I had smello-web it would have that wonderful scent of vics vapour rub.

oaklandvistaThis house has an amazing view.  In typical San Francisco summer weather it’s foggy first thing in the morning.

downWeeee I get to ride down the hill into the canyon on the other side of Oakland, although I was thinking most of the way down that I would have to climb back up again to get home.

moragaHere’s where it gets amazing. 5 miles (8km), as the crow files from my house is this sort of countryside. 5miles in the other direction is the city of San Francisco.  It’s so amazing to be able to pop over the hill and be truly out of the city, on quiet tree lined roads surrounded by redwoods. I love it, a lot.

redwoodsAnd now I pay for all that downhill fun.  This is the famous Redwoods Rd climb.  It’s not steep, but it lasts a while.

cockpitHere’s what it looks like crawling up the hill in my granny gear (the small easy one for the non cyclists who suck with me this far).  The speed is embarrassingly slow and the cadence isn’t great either, but hey I’m not built for climbing okay?

liveineastbayHere’s another reason I love the east bay.  Under that cloudy fog is San Francisco, it’ll burn off by 2 or 3, just in time for it to roll in again around 7.  The east bay is either clear by 10 or doesn’t get it at all.

So there we are back at the top and felling pretty weary.  After the last photo is a final nice down hill then home for coffee and lunch. There’s a little bit of what my morning was like. Nice huh? In weeks to come be prepared for more ride reports and some revolutionary honest reviews of cycling products.  Of course, plans of blogging and actually carrying through on it are two very different things.

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