Dear Diary 004: BFFs and Unrequited Bicycle Greetings
Red-headed BFFs + Canine Mania
Oakland and old friends. A sushi reunion. My old friend Wendi is a red-head with a vengeance and wears big jewelry that suits her. In sorta shiny copper colored cowboy boots she leans over and says, “I love you, little!” Sal and I sleep in her bed because she is too stubborn to expose us to what she calls the “demolished guest room”.
Her home is filled with candles and family and hospitality and dogs and big pots of coffee in the morning. Her sister glows according to their family requirements. We call their mother “RadMom” for a reason.
Djuna is a circus animal disguised as a house dog. She’ll make one million tricks for you (including but not limited to “spin”, “roll over”, “rambo” and “let’s pray”). Kona is as old as dirt with hips to match. An ancient retriever who still manages to look like a puppy despite a limping gate and propensity to fall asleep standing up. In between Djuna and Kona is Scout, a rescued mutt who looks a little like a genetic mashup gone wrong. In a good way. Think sheep dog mixed with basset hound mixed with black lab.
During the day the dogs decorate the couch with napping until someone comes in and says, “Let’s go for a walk.” at which point all hell breaks loose.
The Wrong Way Up
Sal and I decide to take an adventure ride and navigate our way to the top of the Oakland hills via Claremont and Grizzly Peak. Claremont is 2.5 miles of relentless, leg-stabbing incline unlike anything I’ve seen this year. At the top, the entire Bay Area spills out in all directions and you can see all the way to the Farralon Islands. Which should technically be impossible, but isn’t.
Clear skies and sun abound until we make a turn into the redwoods. The darkness feels ominous in a Hans Christian Andersen kind of way. A quick stop at Inspiration Point fails to yield a make-out session so we continue on, heading through Moraga and Orinda, up Canyon Road to Pinehust and Redwood Road to Skyline.
It’s a good ride with healthy climbing and quiet narrow roads. Bay Area cyclists are less friendly than I would have hoped and choking a tiny wave or lift of a finger out of most of them is nearly impossible. Old, rich men on very nice equipment seem to be the worst about it. I begin to combat this non-acknowledgement by gradually increasing the size of my initial greeting (maybe they’re not seeing me?). The finger tip becomes a hand off the bar which becomes a full-on parade-worthy wave.
They see me and still ignore me which we find endlessly entertaining.
As the ride draws to a close, a kind gentleman on a Cannondale spins up next to us and redeems the entirety of Bay Area cyclists in one fell swoop. He gives us a personalized guide of the ridgeline, pointing out famous houses and places where the fire destroyed entire neighborhoods in the late 80′s. Then, after learning of our little mountain goat excursion up Claremont, he shows us Tunnel Road.
“This is the way most people go up.”
We can see why. Tunnel is a tiny, winding gradual climb that spreads the elevation gain over a few extra miles. We go down it instead of up and I count 37 cyclists making their way to the top. Most of them wave. Welcome to the east hills super highway.
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