I ducked and flinched yet again. Sure that this time the branches I heard crashing down around me were going to land on my head.
Last night was Thursday and since Thursday is the one day I ride lately, ride I would....despite the gale force winds that howled as I pulled up to the parking lot. (the weather man said there were gusts up to 50 mph)
As the hardiest of our group showed up we joked that maybe this wasn't the best weather for a ride, but it was Jon's birthday, I had brought a cake and it wasn't raining...so we really had no choice.
Other than the wind, the night wasn't too bad. The skies were clear and it wasn't very cold...as a matter of fact, I had over-dressed for the ride since as soon as I started up Brandon, I was wishing I had left the jacket in my camelback.
The wind though, played havoc with us for the entire ride. If it wasn't pushing against us on the climbs, or trying to blow us off the trail from the side, it was throwing stuff at us from the giant eucalyptus trees as we rode past. The trail, normally a smoothly graded fire road became an obstacle course littered with branches, leaves and everything that had blown in from a couple zip codes away.
Eventually, we made it back to the paved side of the lake and although the wind actually seemed worse, and the trail was still covered with detritus, at least we didn't need to worry about a eucalyptus tree falling on our heads...As we reach the top of the final climb up the road to the parking lot we were blasted with the full force and ended up riding the last couple of hundred yards directly into a headwind that tried it's best to stop us in our tracks.
Even more challenging than the ride though, was the post-ride meal and birthday cake. We huddled against a building trying our best to stay out of the wind, while balancing a beverage in one hand and a plate full of food in the other. The heaters, which for the next couple of months will be a staple at every ride, tried valiantly to crank against the wind, but it was a losing battle and soon we were all calling it quits and loading up for the drive home.
Getting back into the truck was a dramatically different environment than where we had just spent the last couple of hours. Suddenly the wind was something I could only see and not feel and the quiet in the cab of my truck was almost deafening. The evidence of the storm continued on my drive home though....a good portion of Castro Valley Blvd was dark and without power and I passed several PG&E trucks as I drove through town....all in all another great ride.