I was planning on doing my long ride on Sunday but one of my riding partners couldn’t make it so we changed to today – why not? The plan had been to climb the back side of the Berkeley Hills and go to the start of my season opener triathlon, The Golden Bear, and then test drive the course. Alas – such was not to be.
My riding partner Cindy wasn’t crazy about that idea and my legs were pretty tired from my smokin hot run Wednesday night followed by my ride on Thursday. Friday I swam. We decided to climb up the front side of the hills (front and back are totally arbitrary, btw – I just made that up) because we had done that before and knew what to expect. This was my second time making this climb and I didn’t think I could do it and REALLY wanted to talk Cindy out of it. That Cindy is a wiley one, though and she said, “lets just get there and see how it goes. You just keep pedaling and pretty soon you’re there.” Uh huh.
My recollection from the last time is that I thought the first part of the ride from the bottom of Wildcat Canyon Rd. to Inspiration Point would be really hard and I thought that it WAS the climb. When we did it a year ago I remember thinking it was no big deal. What I didn’t know about then was that we were just warming up and there was this whole OTHER hill to climb. That’s the part I didn’t think I could manage because I remembered it as being excrutiating.
As I remembered, the first part was fine – no big whoop (the part that is the same for both rides). The onl y problem was that the further up the hill we got the wetter and foggier it became. We passed Inspiration Point and kept going with me thinking I would beg to turn around at Lake Anza. My thighs were like that shirt in the Tide-to-Go ad that has the talking stain on it and the stain was sayiing “No freakin’ way! Stop! – No No! Turn Back! We’re Tired! No can Do!” – in stereo, no less. My mouth stayed clamped shut, though and on we rode.
Then we got to the part I remembered as being the beginning of the hard part. I just kept pedaling and it just kept getting wetter and foggier and the visibility went down, down, down. And we just kept going. I remember thinking at one point, “where is that really steep part that I don’t think I can manage” and then I remember looking to my right and thinking, “isn’t this just about the top?” Not that we could see anything but a whited out fog bank but there are some logs and stuff to keep the cars from driving off the edge and there was a water tank and I sort of remembered that part.
There was a possible turn off we stopped at but I was feeling okay so we just kept pedaling and it just kept getting wetter and the visibility went down, down, down unti you couldn’t see 30 feet ahead of you. We were headed to a second possible turn off and when we got there and were thinking about what to do a lady in a HEYOOGE MBZ with NO lights on came puttering by. Decision made! We didn’t know how near the top we were but at that point the thought of going down the other side in zero visibility with reckless drivers on the road lost all appeal.
We went across the street and headed down a road that is closed to cars in the winter and that is awesome! I was screaming down that hill, for me (is 30 mph screaming?). I had to exercise some caution because the road was wet but I pretty much let ‘er rip. Once we got down that hill we could see again and were very happy not to feel so invisible. What I didn’t know was what happened to that super steep part.
Here are the 2 elevation maps from last year and this year:
As you can see – we were at the top. There was no more steep part except that one extra climb that comes after some down. We could have come down any which way and it would been fine with me and my nattering thighs except for that part where no one could see us. I think we made the right move.
The real lesson here is that if you don’t know where you are, if you can’t see up the hill very far and if you have a terrible memory you can do stuff you thought was way too hard. I’ve sent my thighs off to stand in the corner and think about that while the rest of me mows through the kitchen.