Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Big Birds

Quickly upon the commencement of my ride this morning, I saw a cool Red-Tailed Hawk dive down and grab a mouse out of a field.  Then, on Magnolia, another hawk/falcon jumped out of the brush with a talon-full of grass, presumably to build a nest.  It became clear that this morning’s ride would be the ‘bird’ commute.  Having seen turkeys almost every day this week on Camino Alto, I mentally committed to stopping to snap a few pictures if I bumped into them again today.  Predictably, I saw a group of three turkeys as the downhill portion began.  They were a bit high on the hill but I was able to get a few pics.

Disappointed by the zoom on my iPhone, I rolled slowly down the hill looking for another group of birds.  As I picked up speed, I passed a lone bird within a foot of the white line.  I doubled back to get a better shot.  Unfortunately, I had put my phone back in my backpack after the first group of turkeys.  In my rustling around in the backpack, the turkey hightailed it up the hill.  Still, I got a good picture and also practiced my ‘gobble-gobble call’, yelling back and forth with him (her?) a few times.

Satisfied with the turkeys, I continued the normal commute.  I snapped a shot of the Snow Geese that are traveling through Marin.  Large groups of these guys are standard Mill Valley Bike Trail (as are lots of ducks).

Having ridden pretty slowly up through Sausalito, I was doubly pleased to pass a guy riding up the Alexander climb.  Then just as I was cresting the first hill, I was joined by BryanB hammering up to meet/pass me (he doesn’t really have to try that hard).  Bryan used me as an excuse to not work in a Headlands Loop (he is training for The Death Ride,, in July) and we rode together into Fort Mason.  We decided to stop and send a picture to StravaMo who has not been riding much due to an injury.

Then Bryan dropped the bomb on me.  Since we skipped the Headlands, he insisted that we do the Hyde Street hill up to Lombard and then finish on Columbus Avenue through North Beach.  Noting my eye-roll, Bryan said, “Don’t worry.  You have the Cross bike.  Those gears will get you there.”  I took the bait and we headed up.  The Hyde Street hill is about one-fifth of a mile at an average of 17.8% grade (compared to the “stupid” Wildomar climb in Mill Valley on 5/11/12 which is half the length but a slightly steeper grade, 19.8%).  The hill is divided into two sections.  I did pretty well on the first two-thirds as the hill flattened for 30 feet at Chestnut Street.  Then the ride continued straight up to Lombard Street.  At the mid-point of the last third, the bike was literally stopping between each revolution of the pedals.  My lungs were hanging there, but my legs simply could go no further.  It took all the effort that I had just to unclip out of the pedals and catch myself from falling into the Cable Car tracks.  I walked the last 50 feet to a panting Bryan waiting for me at the top.

Hyde Street was not to be for me this morning.  But I will conquer her one of these days.  And closing the loop on the Big Bird theme … Being unable to finish the Hyde Street hill, I, obviously, was the biggest turkey of the day.

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