Friday, February 7, 2014

Before the Storm....

The word best used to describe our winter so far here in northern California has been "dry".  As a matter of fact, according to the talking heads on TV, this is the driest winter ever since they started keeping records back in the 1840's.

And, while I'm definitely concerned about the pending drought, the effect on crops and all the ramifications of a lack of precipitation, I am enjoying the fact that my weekends have been spent outdoors and not cooped up in the house.
This past weekend, with the rumor of an actual storm in our near future, we had planned to ride up Mission Peak on the mountain bikes.  The amazing thing to me is that I've lived in the bay area my entire life and the east bay specifically for the majority of my 51 years and have never been up Mission Peak. I've driven by it hundreds of times and actually ridden my road bike around it on Calaveras Rd several times, but I've never hiked it our ridden it before.

We had a large group as we met up at the base, just outside Ohlone College and with bikes tuned and legs and lungs ready, we headed out.  Almost immediately after hitting the dirt trail things pointed up and they never really stopped pointing up until we reached the top. Sure there were a few places where it was almost level, but for the most part, the entire 6 miles to the base of the summit is up....and parts of it are STEEP! Like sit on the nose of your saddle and push down on the bars to keep from popping a wheelie steep.

As I've maintained in this blog, my fitness level this year is not the best. Life has been too busy and I've had too many other priorities for it to be any different. But even so, I thought I was stronger than I felt doing this ride. Several times in fact, I had to stop and get my heart rate back under control because I couldn't hear my iPod over the sound of my heart pounding in my ears.

Eventually though, as all things do, the suffering came to an end and we were greeted with amazing views of the entire bay area. It had been a bit windy, so the skies were clear and you could literally see for miles....

Having never been up Mission Peak, but having heard its a popular local hike, I wasn't too surprised that we weren't alone on the trail. What I was surprised at, was just how popular the hike is. The entire ride was spent avoiding hikers, most of whom were polite and pleasant.  It seemed as if everyone out there knew the beautiful weather was going to end and winter would soon show up for real...well, as much as winter does show up in the bay area anyway.
Having done all the suffering in the first half of the ride, we took our pictures, enjoyed a quick snack or gel and prepared for our reward. The downhill. And it didn't disappoint. Where it had taken us over an hour and a half of riding time (not including rest stops) to get up there, the downhill portion passed by in about 40 minutes...and that included several stops to regroup.

Now that I've completed this ride I can now say I've been there and done that and don't really need to do it again. I'd like to go back with the dog for a nice hike and a good workout, but as a ride, it really wasn't that great. There were a lot of people, the trail other than one section of narrow single track is all fire road and other than the views at the end, it's just not that pretty....yes, it's a tough ride and a really good workout, but on my mountain bike, I really prefer my rides to be more fun.....(of course it could be that I'm just out of shape and not suffering the entire time would change my perspective)

Sunday, for once, the talking weather-heads were right and it rained which made for a perfect excuse to spend the entire day, after church of course, laying on the couch "recovering".

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