Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Beer de Tahoe: Training

With a weekend of biking in Tahoe only a few days away, I decided to try a new loop this morning with Cycle Sports as my guide. A recent attempt at an Alameda loop ended badly when I took a wrong turn and wound up inside a tunnel. Determined not to avoid a similar mistake, I figured I’d go for the Tunnel Road loop, which passed through enough familiar territory that it seemed difficult to get lost.

I set off to Grand, and then continued until I hit Piedmont. The bike zipped through along the way, and at some points I started overtaking some of the slower vehicles. Near Piedmont, the roads became a bit uneven, so I slowed down and turned right onto Piedmont to see if I could make a detour. This took me for a loop, both literally and figuratively, around the Mountain View cemetery. The cemetery was packed with various Memorial Day events, with people waving flags, playing brass instruments, and some dressing up in Scottish kilts. Don’t ask me why. It turned out that the only way out of the cemetery was the way in, so I road with a caravan of cars through a maze of green pastures filled with stones carved in various sizes and shapes.

Upon leaving the cemetery, it was time to continue on the trail. The roads eventually evened out, but it was a few miles along Broadway when I started to become confused. Where was the overpass for 24? I thought I might be on the wrong road, but I checked my map and then saw a bicycle paati fly by me. Bicycle Paati turned into the Lake Temescal Regional Park, and while I continued in pursuit briefly, I returned to the main road, determined to finish this loop. It wasn’t long before I saw signs for Tunnel Road, which reassured me. There was a runner crossing the street ahead of me, and it wasn’t long before I caught up and passed him.

I continued on the road, which was steadily becoming steeper. As my pedaling became less efficient, I noticed the same runner on my heels. He passed me. When such events had happened before, the bad carpenter in me would blame my old bike, a heavy steel-based hybrid. This time I was on my road bike, so there were no bad tools, unless I disowned my legs. With no excuses but my own physical strength, I pushed myself to pedal faster, eventually overtaking the biker. This wasn’t one of my better moments on the ride, but at least it wasn’t my worst.

It was at this time that I saw the overpass, replenished some lost momentum with the contents of one of my water bottles, and pedaled across. A left turn put me on Caldecott Lane, which would lead to Tunnel Road, where I was supposed to turn right. For some reason though, I didn’t need to turn right and somehow ended up on Tunnel Road, anyway. Around this time and elevation, there were some spectacular views of the Bay, which made me decided to return to this loop at some point. As I continued along Tunnel Road, I started moving downhill, feeling the breeze against me. I was racing now, past trees, cars, the Claremont Hotel, and then Claremont Road. Wait a second: this wasn’t the right way. I checked the map and discovered that there were two Tunnel Roads, perpendicular to each other. The time I spent racing downhill should have been spent pedaling further uphill.

Oh, well. I called some friends who lived on Claremont to see if they might be interested in joining me, but the call went to voicemail. I went down Claremont, then College, Broadway, Grand, Telegraph, 17th, and eventually returned home. Was it the 18-mile loop I had planned on? No, but it was fun, nevertheless.

The afternoon took me to REI, where I got some gear for the camping/biking excursion, and afterwards, I headed to Berkeley Espresso, where I nearly finished reading Lolita in a cafe that included Robert Reich and three of his friends. However, the reading was cut short when I heard the crashing of cars just outside the cafe. A lot of people seemed rudely disturbed, reminiscent of “Sunday at Gaylord’s“, a short story I had read recently by a former roommate of mine.

I decided it was about time for me to leave, and left the cafe. It was at this time that I saw who I thought was Robert Reich walking ahead of me. At least, he was of similar stature, hair color, and was wearing a similar sweater to the one Reich was wearing at the cafe. His arms were folded behind his back and he hunched forward, dragging his feet. Funny, it seemed incongruous with what I had remembered when passing by him during my days as a graduate student. I continued walking a few steps behind, when the man turned around to look at me. It wasn’t Robert Reich. Apparently, I wasn’t too interesting to him, either, as the man turned back and continued his hunched march forward.

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