By Tom Kando
Sometimes it’s good to write about something fun (in contrast to politics) :
I used to run marathons, but when my knees and I got old, I switched to road biking. Now, I go out several times a week for anywhere between 35 to 65 miles, including some excellent climbs in the Gold Country east of Sacramento, i.e. the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. (I also bike in Hawaii, as shown in the picture).I love it.
Today was no exception. I first hit the American River bike trail, just a few hundred yards from our house. After six miles, it starts uphill, on its way to Folsom Lake. There, I take Green Valley Road. This is a beautiful road with several 2 and 3-mile climbs, winding its way up to maybe 2000 feet elevation. It was a sunny, crisp winter day, clear blue sky. You ride up a small valley with a mountain brook at the bottom, torrential and brimful at this time. Sometimes a deer or a coyote crosses the road. Very little traffic, no people. Pine trees and ranch land. About 15 miles up the road you come through Rescue. It calls itself a town, but it’s just a fire station and a grocery store.
Whether you do a loop or return the way you came, riding down is a blast. During the climb up, I average less than 10 miles an hour, but on the way down, I exceed 40. Nothing beats the exhilaration of the wind rushing by your ears, as you approach the speed of an occasional car.
Today, something interesting happened on the way down: For the last ten miles, you rejoin the American River bike trail. This is a 33-mile trail that drops 500 feet from near Folsom Lake to downtown Sacramento. It’s used by hundreds of bikers and runners every day.
Last year, on one of my descents, I was suddenly passed by the full Dutch Rabo team, who shot by me in perfect formation at vertiginous speed, wearing their orange uniforms. It was the day before the Tour of California was to start in Sacramento, and they were on their last training run.
Today, I also experienced some exhilarating passing and jockeying for position, on my way down. A group of hotshots passed me on a short uphill. Uphill is really my weakness. Even women pass me on the uphill, for crying out loud! My excuse is that I only have a two-gear in front, but the reality is that I am in my late sixties.
But on the flat and in the downhill, I go all out. So I caught the hotshots and I passed them. Then they whizzed by me again. At one point, I was passing some tourist biker, and the leader of the hotshots passed me at the same time, hollering, “Left, Left!”
He shouldn’t have done that. He should have waited until I was done passing the tourist. We were tumbling down the hill at close to 40 miles an hour, three abreast, on an extremely narrow and curvy stretch, unable to see around the bend whether oncoming bikers were approaching.
After the last of the hotshots got by me, I gave chase and drafted for a couple of miles. This was on a beautiful flat part called Negro Bar, with a lake on your left and huge cliffs on your right. Somehow, I managed to pass the group, but then they came after me again. The same dude who had passed me three abreast before, once again started screaming “Left!” This time, I screamed back, “I can hear you!’
So then he became rude and said, “Then DO it!” I got a little pissed, and I said, “Hey, you were wrong back there, earlier!” But he was already hundred yards ahead of me, probably didn’t even hear me.
Then his buddies came by. They were friendlier, just smiling and saying, “we keep doing this.” (passing each other). Still grouchy, I told them that their leader shouldn’t have passed me the way he did earlier, while I myself was passing someone else. But things were going so fast, this probably also fell on deaf ears. Before I knew it, the group had dropped me and was vanishing in the distance.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun. Great ride, great workout, and there was even a mild altercation to raise the adrenalin level. What more could I ask for? leave comment here