April 29, 2001
Taking A Breather


I've gotten more exercise in the past 48 hours than in all three years of high school put together.

(Of course that isn't saying much, since I altered a doctor's note early in tenth grade and basically managed to get myself "excused" from P.E. for the rest of high school. While my classmates were outside jogging around the track every afternoon, all sweaty and miserable,  I was sitting in Study Hall eating potato chips. And I thought *I* was the smart one.)

On Friday night, right after work, David and I hopped onto BART from Oakland and headed to downtown San Francisco for the Giants game. Riding BART was a piece of cake ... you just sit back and wait for your ears to pop ... but once we reached the downtown and met up with David's friend Graham and his girlfriend, there was a one-mile hike from Market Street to the new ballpark, followed by an arduous climb to the top of the stadium to reach our nosebleed seats. Plus two or three trips up and down the stairs, during the game, to the food court. David and I both ate with joyously piggy abandon that night  --  Doggie Diner hot dogs with the works, an enormous basket of Gilroy garlic fries, a couple of 40-clove garlic chicken sandwiches from The Stinking Rose concession  --  but we didn't feel guilty. We knew we had another one-mile walk back to the BART station after the game.

On Saturday morning, our big *Athletic Weekend* continued when we packed the bikes and helmets into the back of the Subaru, headed out to the Walnut Creek area where David grew up  --  leaving our car at his parents' house  --  and spent most of the afternoon riding around something called the Contra Costa Canal Trail (with a little Iron Horse thrown in, for fun).

For your *viewing pleasure,* here's a gratuitous and incredibly slow-loading map of where we went yesterday:

At just over eleven miles (in just under two hours, not including a Jamba Juice break),  this was my most ambitious bike ride to date ... and the most fun, so far. 

The long, smooth, scenic trails wind their way through Contra Costa County for miles and miles. The weather was perfect: sunny but not too hot, with just a little bit of a breeze coming off the canals occasionally. No jacket required. And it was beautiful: the wildflowers are in bloom in Walnut Creek right now, and the air was loaded with jasmine and eucalyptus. The canals are filled with baby ducks and geese: if you looked carefully you could see blue-bellied lizards sunning themselves on fenceposts. 

We rode past a series of landmarks from David's youth, including his high school ... the places where he and his friends used to hunt for lizards and doughnuts ... a tree where he and his high school buddies once got shidt-faced drunk on vodka. 

"Traffic" was light: bikers, mostly, or the occasional jogger. Most of the time, though, it felt like we had the trail to ourselves ... just David and me, zipping along in the sunshine. (OK. "Zipping" might be overstating things a hair, especially when we hit the occasional hill and I had to get off and walk the Schwinn to the top. But then we would go back down the hill, on the other side. THAT was definitely "zipping.")

It was an amazing day.

Today I am taking a breather from all of this incredible physical activity. We were going to get up early this morning and ride to the bagel shop on the other side of the island again, like we did last Sunday, but I begged off. The lure of an extra hour of sleep  --  not to mention a day without shoes  --  was too irresistible.  I'm a little sore today, mostly in the calves and lower back (no "saddle-soreness" this weekend, though, thank god) ... but it's nothing that a hot eucalyptus bath and a little TLC won't cure. 

Mostly I'm just sort of astonished by all of this. If you had told me, just a couple of years ago even, that not only would I own a bike  --  not only would I go out and plunk down a chunk of perfectly good wine money on a BICYCLE, forcryingoutloud  --  but that I would routinely be going on eleven-mile bike rides on Saturday afternoons ... I would have told you you that it was beyond my physical abilities.

And I would have had the forged doctor's note to prove it.

throw a rock