Monthly Archives: April 2012

Letters to my mother, part 1, or why I feel justified in never throwing anything away

Sara and me, posing in our commuting costumes before heading home

Stored on my hard drive, I have 48,913 emails from my three different current email accounts.  20,259 of those emails are unread.  I also have a bunch of email saved from two other, now defunct, email accounts.  Jason has suggested that I go through the emails and throw stuff out, but I have resisted following his suggestion because it sounds like work.

This blog is supposed to be about my biking and since I have these emails, I decided to look through old accounts to see if I can find evidence of my first rides.    I started riding by commuting.  My commute was 3 miles in each direction and all technical.  The ride to work contained a difficult to navigate light that was on a hill.  I had to learn to unclip and restart on the hill, usually surrounded by morning commuters in cars.  At first I just walked up the hill, because I could not get restarted in traffic on an incline.  Eventually I got better and was able to do it.  The way home was in heavy traffic through highly congested shopping  areas  that had head-in parking, pedestrians, parking and unparking cars, and complicated traffic lights.  Eventually I got the hang of that, too.  The ride was only three miles.  I certainly did not gain any fitness from the efforts, but I got very good at dealing with traffic and I got over my fear of heading out the door.  I live in a city.  I needed to learn how to deal with cars and this commute taught me that skill.  These commutes lowered the activation energy of heading out the door on a bike and gave me the confidence to cycle regularly.

I was delighted to have found the email I sent my mom about my first commutes.  Apparently I practiced the route a couple of times before attempting it on an actual work day.  Jason went with me for the first week.  I started in August of 2003.  The letter described the amount of time the commute took, it described the hikes I had done with our particularly personable poodle, it described hawks I had seen, and it described an incident at work, an incident about which I had completely forgotten:

I fortunately have a lousy sense of smell. The other week, our morgue ran out of room in the refrigerators and a body was left out for a day. The whole third floor lab area apparently reeked, but I didn t even notice.

Me, dressed as a commuting pirate

Honestly, I do not think that anyone else is interested in this incident or the contents of this letter, but I was quite amused by it and I am delighted to have been able to relive these events.  I might follow Jason’s suggestion of going through my old emails, but I have no intention of throwing anything away.


As far I was concerned, the best thing about last year’s delta ride was the bee sting.  Bob doesn’t do route sheets or maps and his route description was the following:  “Meet at 9 am by the cemetery on Shiloh Rd south of hiway 12 and we will ride out to see if the cranes are still around.”  You try to figure out the route.  I was able to find the church by Google maps and, in case you are wondering, No, you can’t see the cemetery from the road.  Michael had done the route a few times, but he refuses to learn any routes.  I had never even ridden in the area and had never even heard of any towns on the route.  Michael and I were dropped in the first 45 seconds and became desperately lost.  Mark didn’t do the ride at all, because he left his back wheel at home.  He had unfortunately driven us all up to the start, a 1.5 hour drive.  Unfortunately, for me at least, Jack had driven by himself to the start and was thus able to offer us all rides home, allowing Mark to go home.

Mark planned on meeting us in Rio Vista for pastries before driving home and when Michael and I did not ever make it to Rio Vista, he spent a lot of time driving around trying to find us.  However, by that time we had gotten too lost and too off course.  While off route, we passed bee hives and I got stung by a bee.  During our lost phase, Michael and I asked for directions to Rio Vista and were told the most direct route, which would have been fine if we had been in a car.  When we started down highway 12, we had a shoulder, but after a few miles the shoulder completely disappeared and we were suddenly on a narrow divided highway with semis barreling down on us honking and angy at the idiot cyclists.  We had no where to go and would pull off the road into the gravel to allow the trucks to pass and then get back on the road to try again.  It was a disaster and incredibly unpleasant.  Neither Michael and I had our cell phones.  Neither Jack or Bob own cell phones. Mark had his cell phone, but this modern convenience only really allowed him to find out that his wheel was indeed in his shop at home.

My bee stung lip did swell and hurt during the ride, but it wasn’t that bad and was better than other bee stings I have had.  The lip got much worse that night when I was safely at home with a handy supply of Benadryl.  I did end up missing the next day of work due to the bee sting, since the reaction did worsen, but, all in all, the bee sting really wasn’t that bad and it could have been worse.

Bob listed the ride again for this past Thursday and, pitting experience against optimism, I showed up for the ride again, just as unprepared and unaware of the route.  I was able to determine the route back and forth from Rio Vista, since I knew the ride did go to Rio Vista.  The rest of the route remained a mystery.  I wrote to Mark and asked for some hints regarding the route, but he would only promise not to allow me to get lost again and refused me any further guidance.

The ride went well.

  1. I did not get lost.  I did get dropped, but they waited at each turn.
  2. The wind was rather ferocious toward the end as we rode into a dark storm.
  3. The plentiful sheep were newly shorn and the lambs frolicked about and were unbelievably cute.
  4. The sky opened up and poured on us after we were safely in the van.
  5. I used my brand new Garmin for the first time and am now the proud owner of a route sheet for this ride.
  6. We rode on ferries, which were way cool.
  7. Foster’s Bighorn  is a resturant and bar in Rio Vista and was the highlight of the trip.

Michael told me that Foster’s Bighorn Bar had a wall full of trophies, but I was expecting local trophies, trophies from the U.S.  I was not expecting stuffed Cheetahs.  I had never even heard of a Hartebeest, much less knew that many different varieties of Hartebeest exist.  Now I know, for I have seen the stuffed heads.  Bill Foster, a Hayward man, was an avid hunter and a bootlegger.  The bootlegging ran afoul of the law and Bill Foster, with his collection of dead animals, moved to Rio Vista to escape the Hayward authorities.  Pictures and video taken by K.F. and posted with his permission.


Bob’s secret Delta route:

Post 2

This post is being used to see how posts are divided.  The plan for the day is to ride the tandem.  The weather forecast is for sun, but we may have some wind.  We are riding with Alexis.  I had invited Michael, but he needs to be home by 1130 in order to get stuff done before Napoleon arrives to conquer Oakland.  The Paramount is show the silent movie Napoleon.  The movie is an 8 1/2 hour event including two 20 minute intermissions and an hour and 45 minute dinner break.  I think that I would rather be stapled than see that, but Michael is quite excited and the Paramount says the these showings are “The cinema event of a lifetime.”

First Post

Setting up blog.  How large is the actual published image.  I have no ability to visualize the size without some examples.  However, I have nothing to actually say.  The weather is windy.  The rain has lessened.