Last weekend when my husband and I were riding on Iron Horse in Alamo, I saw a woman with a yellow shirt that said “Passing cyclists, please call out.” I laughed and said, “On your left.” As I rode on, I was thinking about various slogans that cyclists could wear on their shirts. One that springs to mind is “Keep your dogs on leashes.” Another mights be “Keep small children under control.” And a third one would be “Walkers don’t straggle across the whole path.” I don’t think that non-cyclists understand why we don’t teeter on the very edge of the path. For one thing sometimes the path is uneven at the edge and could catch a tire, and another thing is that we all want to avoid thorns.
Today on my way to Danville, I ran across a young mother with two small boys on bikes and a toddler running all over the path. I had to ask her to secure the toddler so that I could pass. A bit further down the path, three nannies were pushing strollers and taking up the whole path. I had to stop my bike and get off to pass this group, which was going the opposite direction from me. They could easily see me coming.
I think that as cyclists, somehow we need to exhibit prudence and manners and advocate for all others using our trails to do the same.
Cycling has many positive aspects, but one that we shouldn’t forget is the simple enjoyment it brings, that feeling of exhilaration that reminds us of childhood pleasures. It is the “whee” factor. One day my husband and I had stopped at Peet’s in Danville, and we were having coffee outside when two men who belong to the spandex crowd started talking to us. We were doing our usual ten miles or so, and they had a route of about sixty miles laid out but they treated us as equals. One of the men said that he believed in the physical benefits, but that the main reason he rides is that it makes him feel like a kid again.
My husband expressed this same idea last Wednesday when we rode to Blackhawk, and because of the road construction we we riding in “coned off” areas, in some cases right down the middle of the road and sometimes on the sidewalk. He said the whole experience reminded him of riding on the unopened freeway in Oakland when he was in junior high. He loved it.
I love it when we have done a hard trip going somewhere and the return trip consists of mostly riding downhill. However, I often wish that we did not have to bother with helmets, so that I could feel the breeze in my hair. When I was a kid no one had ever heard of bicycle helmets, but realizing their importance, I always wear one.
The other thing that tickled me on this last trip to Blackhawk occurred as we were climbing the hill just before the shopping center. I was puffing along behind my husband, when one of the construction men looked at me and laughingly said, “You go , girlie.” This made my day. It has been a long time since anyone has called me “girlie.” That made me feel like a kid again.
Saturday we did a ride south on Iron Horse, stopping at Whole Foods, Borders, Office Depot, the farmers market in Danville, and Rakestraw Books. Using my panniers, we accomplished a lot, and we did not have any trouble parking anywhere. We had a delightful day except for one irritant.
My point today has little to do with cycling. It has lots to do with contemporary culture–making one’s self look good at the expense of others. This particular gripe is the practice of stores requesting money for a worthy cause. When I paid at Whole Foods, I was asked if I wanted to give a dollar to provide “salads for school children.”At Borders, my next stop, I was asked if I wanted to donate money to some reading program for children. While these efforts appear laudable, the customer does not know exactly where the money is going, and perhaps the store’s particular charity is not one which the shopper would wish to support. These corporations are attempting to appear noble by soliciting money from others. I think that it would be great were Whole Foods and Borders to use corporate profits for worthy causes. But don’t ask me for my money. It is irritating and embarrassing. I don’t ask Whole Foods or Borders to contribute to my church.
Farmers Market at Forest Home Farm
Saturday we set out on one of our favorite rides to the farmers market at Forest Home Farm. Last time we were there we were a bit worried because it seemed as though there were fewer produce stands and other vendors. But Saturday the market was alive with activity. There were lots of produce stands, mostly organic, and many vendors selling handicrafts and other products. People were milling about, and cars were lined up entering the parking lot. We had to wait until the traffic cleared enough so that we could slip through the gate to our favorite parking spot.
Our Parking Area
There was a brass band playing a swing tune from the 40s when we first arrived, and later they played other melodies that I did not recognize, but the band had a pleasing sound. The band members were enjoying themselves, and so were the people listening to them.
A Lively Brass Band
When we left, we decided to ride the shoulder of San Ramon Valley Blvd. for a while instead of following our usual Cross Valley Trail to Iron Horse. We rode until we reached Montevideo Drive where we turned right and rode in the bike lane back to Iron Horse. The only problem with city streets is that cars parked in the bike lane do make riding more dangerous.
A visit to Forest Home Farm is a glimpse into the past, and now on certain days the historic Glass House is open for tours. Read about both Forest Home Farm and the adjacent Glass House.
My husband and I had not ridden this trail for a long time, but in yesterday’s cool weather we decided to do this ride, which becomes fairly steep just before St. Mary’s College. We parked the car at the trail head where Olympic Blvd. and Pleasant Hill Road intersect and set out. The first part of the trail has been resurfaced, and it was a joy to ride on. But after the first few blocks, the surface deteriorates, and it is necessary to watch for bumps and ruts in the road.
The Woodsy Section just before St. Mary's College
This trail of about 7 miles opened in 1976 on the old Sacramento Northern Railroad right-of-way, and it was the first trail that I ever rode. I can remember being timid about riding between the poles on the path at first. It is an interesting trail, passing by upscale homes and attractive gardens for a while and then becoming woodsy just before St. Mary’s. In wet winters I have seen waterfalls alongside this trail, and many times I have seen deer. And also I recall happy days riding here with two good friends, one now deceased and the other disabled. We used to pack picnic lunches and set out for the day on our bikes. Our kids were in high school at the time, and we always had lots of worries and issues to discuss.
Yesterday we had a perfect ride, particularly on the way back to Lafayette, where one simply sits on the bike and steers for most of the way. At the turnoff to Lafayette, we rode down School St., turned right on the short bike path that runs along 1st St., and then left on Golden Gate Way where we parked our bikes in front of the old theater.
We had a wonderful lunch at Metro, a pleasant restaurant on Mt. Diablo Blvd., where my husband had a croque monsieur and I had a healthy chopped salad. We both indulged in dessert; mine was a peach and blueberry crumble, and his was a lemon tart. After that we returned to the car and the work-a-day world.