Thank You Ride #10. Paradise Loop

Even though I took my “free time” writing and other composing elsewhere for a few weeks (three speeches, three homework assignments, sequencing for my yoga classes… but who’s counting), the training for AIDS LifeCycle has been happening! It’s just that I didn’t make much time for pictures or writing about it.

The thank you rides are definitely not cancelled (you can read more about the idea here)! On the President’s day, I went for a ride with my friend Laura and ended up riding 50 miles. This ride was dedicated to one of my anonymous sponsors who is a talented candid portrait photographer. The day delivered excellent views for me to photograph in honor of this generous supporter! 

The ride was a delightful combination of new and familiar, of internal and external exploration, and of wonderful company.

First, I rode North across San Francisco to meet Laura. I was familiar with most of the fairly straightforward route. Still, each day comes with a different light, and there are always little surprises. 

For instance, there is this Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral at the corner of Green and Van Ness. You can tell it’s Orthodox by the onion tops and Orthodox crosses. 

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral at Green and Van Ness. The picture taken in the afternoon

I like how this building, not even spanning a city block, is nonetheless a “Cathedral”. There’s something San Franciscan about that.  It is still rather striking and I dig all the bells. Wonder what they sound like. 

From Laura’s apartment, it’s another few miles to and over the Golden Gate bridge.  Due to well paced dilly-dallying around our departure, we got to the bridge at a low stress time: most hard core cyclists went through already, and the tourists didn’t make it this far yet.

Once in Marin County, we crossed under the bridge and were on the way to Sausalito. There was a bit of flooding due to high tide and, probably, recent rains, but we found the way around it.

We rode to Corte Madera, mostly uphill, and then turned back toward the Bay and found Paradise Drive. The day was bright, the scenery all green trees and blue skies and water. And very quiet. Reminded me of the days of my recent sabbatical when I would explore in the middle of the day and find beauty and quiet in the places that are busy on the weekends. A few cars and a handful of bicyclists passed us on Paradise Drive, all very calmly, not in a particular hurry.

The bicyclists passing us brought something up for me…

Growing up, despite being reasonably active, I was always one of the worst at sports. The slowest times running or skiing, the fewest push ups, zero pull up, couldn’t climb or through anything.

That changed somewhat when I started going to math camps and then to math school. First of all, math… On average, my new buddies were less athletic than the “normal” school kids, so my being pathetic wasn’t as outstanding. Second, there was more support and encouragement. In high school, I had a friend who was fairly athletic, and she would do practice runs with me. Once, I was sick when we had to run 600 m in a park to get a passing grade for PE, and I missed that. When I went to do the make up run, my friend came with me, even though she already passed and it was cold and rainy on the make up day. She ran next to me and just a little bit faster than I would have if I were alone, cheering me on, so I ended up not just passing, but getting a pretty good grade.

As an adult, I am in good health and in a relatively decent shape, primarily from being active in life: walking and biking places rather than driving, a little bit of yoga, a little bit of biking, so those old thoughts about being inadequate physically don’t surface often these days. But put me to a test and it all comes back.

I was worried about riding with Laura, because she is so much more athletic. Several months ago, I probably wouldn’t, fearing I would be a burden. This time, I knew I could ride 50 miles, but was still concerned about being a burden, because I am so slow. While I was indeed much slower and got all worked up about that in the beginning, Laura was such a good sport: she adjusted her speed for me, even though it made for a longer ride. It’s so nice when people around me are kinder to me than I am to myself.

We stopped a few miles short of Tiburon and went down to the Paradise Beach County Park. Again, probably a busier place during the summer weekend, it was serene and beautiful, all green and fresh after the rains.

A view from Paradise Beach County Park. That’s Richmond bridge on the far left

We stopped again to enjoy the views from the tip of Tiburon Peninsula and then had lunch in Tiburon.

The right back was for the most part easy uneventful. Most of the hills were behind us, and most of the distance, too. We circled around one intersection a little bit trying to find a more pleasant bike route, everything else was smooth. The tide reversed in the few hours we were up in the hills. The pirate ship home had much more visible foundation than it did in the morning.

The pirate ship house in Sausalito, where all the floating homes are. It says “AHOY”

Everything was easy and smooth except that hill leading up to the Golden Gate bridge and crossing the bridge that is. The tourists were definitely out. But it wasn’t too bad. It was rather exhilarating actually to notice how unfazed I was about the prospect of riding seven more miles home after scaling that hill and the bridge. I may be hopelessly slow, there may be still not a single pull up in me, but hey, 50 miles.

A view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate just before crossing the bridge. Busy place
Ok, it says 48.9 miles, but I am claiming 50 for circling looking for a nice bike route once and for descending a VERY steep hill to check out the Paradise Beach park and then coming ALL THE WAY back up.

Thank you, Laura! Thank you the anonymous sponsor! You encourage me and keep me going!


If you want to have a thank you ride dedicated to you, please support me by donating to AIDS LifeCycle on my behalf!  Thank you!

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