What do you want to do on Father's Day?
This question came from my daughters who evidently don't know me as well as I thought....The obvious answer is "ride my bike".
Life continues to spin at a frenetic pace and free time continues to elude me. This of course results in less riding which brings with it a lack of fitness, shortness of patience and general dissatisfaction in my mental outlook
So, on the one day of the year in which it's not only acceptable, but expected for dad to do exactly what he wants and to heck with everyone else, I planned on riding my bike...by myself...for as long as I wanted (or for as long as I could)
The reality though is that as much as Father's Day is about what I want, I'm actually blessed enough to have kids that want to spend it with me. As a result, my time on the bike would still need to be balanced with time spent with the kids and the family.
Thankfully, I'm an early riser which allowed me to get up, out the door and over to Lake Chabot in time to get a good long ride in and still make it home in time to shower and clean up before the planned Father's Day brunch with the family.
I knew before I started that I was doing the "big loop" which in adds in Redtail and Soaring Hawk to the nomal route around the lake. This, in addition to taking it from 13 miles and 1500ft of climbing to 16 miles and 2000ft of climbing, adds in some of the only rideable single track in the park. I've done this a few times on the single speed lately and although it hurts, it's definitely do-able.
As I got to the top of Brandon though, an idea started to weasel its way into my head....I feel good...I should do the "big-big loop" immediately I pushed the thought away as stupid and a source of major pain and suffering...
I continued on the big loop with the thought of extending it continuing to play in the back of my mind.
As I stopped to take a couple of pictures and enjoy the still cool morning, it was decided. I was going to finish the descent to Bort Meadow and finish the big loop. I had places to be after all and there's no sense spending the rest of the day suffering for yet another bad decision.....ok, decided, approved and finalized...no big big loop for me today...
And then, the weirdest thing happened, I finished the Soaring Hawk descent, rolled into and through the Bort Meadow parking lot and began climbing again....despite all the reasons I had for cutting the ride short and getting home, I really just didn't want this perfect solo morning ride to end...
I had forgotten what the climb from Bort Meadow up to Skyline Bl was like and as a result had no idea I was in for almost another 1000ft of climbing before the day was over....although as nice as the morning was, I think even had I remembered I would have made the same decision.
The climb up to Skyline isn't particularly steep, but it is a fairly long climb and provided a perfect opportunity for my brain to check out for a while and my thoughts to reduce to the most basic level. Timing my breathing with my pedal strokes made for a good rhythm while my brain repeated the same mantra over and over again.....make circles, be smooth, breathe, make circles, be smooth, breathe....
Eventually, the trail ends and dumps you onto a road that points up at a pretty steep angle.....from here any rhythm I may have had disappeared and my cadence went to pieces...my only goal was making it to the top without my heart and lungs exploding out of my chest. I jerked wildly on the bars as I pushed on the pedals, sucking in as much air as I could, wailing the bike back and forth beneath me in a crude effort at forward motion...and eventually I made it....ugly, but effective.
The reward for all this work is a weird little stretch of really fun single track that sits in the middle of two busy lanes of traffic.....it weaves in and around trees and roots while continuing in a mostly downhill run....I could imagine kids on their full suspension bikes ripping this section up, but on the rigid SS, I continued to try to be smooth and find that elusive flow.
Eventually, this ends and, at the stables and you're dumped back on to the infamous EBRPD fire roads....graded to the width of a Southern California freeway and at this point in the year consisting of the powder over hardpack our regional parks are known for. Still I was riding my bike and not at work, doing chores, or sitting on the couch.
For the rest of the loop I continued to enjoy the ride although my legs were beginning to let me know I was not at the level of fitness I should have been at this point in the season. The good news was that after a shower, I was headed to brunch with the family to replenish some of the calories I was burning....
Final Tally - Mileage:19 - Feet of climbing: 2800 - Mental Health Restored: 100%