Belated N.Berkeley-Suisun ride recap (Sat Jan 7 2/T/47)

Hi all,
I meant to post this last week, then got distracted. Just a note to say how much I appreciate having Eric Rydman as a ride-leader and co-leader in our club. Just the most courteous and mellow guy you’ll ever meet. I especially appreciate it that such a STRONG rider is interested in leading rides way below his normal pace, partly as a way to get more people into riding club rides regularly and with confidence they can hang with the group:

Sat Jan 7 2/T/57 Berkeley-Suisun, return on Amtrak
Out via El Cerrito, Richmond to El Sobrante, Pinole, Hercules, Crockett, the Zampa Bridge, Vallejo, Lake Herman Rd, Lopes Rd, Cordelia Rd, back on Amtrak. Bring cash and VALID PHOTO ID. With a quick coffee stop in Vallejo and Mexican in Suisun (sit down, if time allows, or to go for train ride back) we should aim to catch the 4:14 to Berkeley. Short ride from Berkeley Amtrak to North Berkeley BART: either park close to Amtrak (no free right lot there though) and ride in to start, or park at BART and bring lights for ride from Amtrak to BART lot. Meet at North Berkeley BART at 9:15 a.m. for a 9:30 roll out. Rain cancels. Eric Rydman, , (510) 759-8438, co-leader TBA

Eric had listed this ride and also made a correction via the email list regarding the distance (47 miles, not 57), and since a “co-leader tba” was still available the evening prior to the ride, offered my services. When he sent me the cue sheet, I suggested some alternatives which, as a former, long-time resident of Benicia commuting between there and Vallejo (well, actually it was between Benicia and Berkeley, but that’s a whole different topic!), I felt were more pleasant and safer than what was in the original route. Eric graciously agreed to those modifications.

Ben stayed home, still nursing his spasm’d back. (since Dec.30th, bending down to pump my front bicycle tire for our ride that day…… oops! He’d returned upstairs, Frankenstein-style, for a hot bath, ibuprophen and wine, while I hung his bike back up on its hooks in the garage, where it has stayed ever since… while I went out on my own solo climb-fest….)

On our North Berkeley – Suisun adventure, it was really windy, much harder than climbing any big hill…. as one of our riders (Kevin) later put it, when you’re dealing with heavy winds, it gets you all “jangly”. I thought that was an apropos description…. anyway, being the “local” for the Vallejo/Benicia/Cordelia portion, I led the group out between Rodeo and Fairfield, which were not only the parts with the most hills, but also through the worst of the wind. I really pushed the pace against the wind, just to get it over with sooner… it was supposed to be a “T” paced ride (10 – 12 mph avg, “T” denoting “touring” pace), but all of us in our little group of 6 were stronger than that posted pace, so the average was more like 12.6 -12.8 mph… if it hadn’t been so windy, the effort I was putting in would have put my speed at about 14 mph avg (over 48 miles total). When we got to the second regroup (the Tower Mart at Lopes and Gold Hill in Fairfield, our legs were really burning. After that break, we took it a bit easier for the final 10-mile stretch to Suisun.

When we reached our destination (Taqueria Tepa on Main Street in downtown Suisun), we had a delicious and nutritious recovery meal — they even make their own Horchata there, really yummy — before heading over to the Amtrak station a few blocks away for our return trip via train. What a lovely way to end the ride!. These little excursions help me remember how beautiful the marshes are, and that stretch of Amtrak route takes you through the inland tidal marshes of the delta. This time of year, the populations of migrating birds are still high, Canada geese, especially prevalent. The Carquinez Strait and mouth of the Delta always bring me “home” to a happy place, mentally, with fond memories of living in that area, although I have come to love my current home and surrounding areas in Albany, too. After crossing the Benicia Bridge, the tracks hug the coastline from Martinez to Richmond, and along mudflats which are home and playground to our more local seabirds – gulls, pipers, grebes, egrets, ducks, with Tamalpais sleeping gently on her royal mountain in the distance across the bay.

Between Richmond and Berkeley, the GG Bridge and SF cityscape get the spotlight , along with the islands of the Bay – Angel and Alcatraz – and in the upper story seating of the train, one can really appreciate the views and the special place we live here in the SF Bay area. In addition to the hanging bike racks at the end of the cars that Amtrak has offered for many years, the last train car is now equipped with a row of diagonally fixed bicycle wheel wells (for 5 or 6 bikes) so traveling with the bike after a long ride is a lot easier than it used to be.

The train also comes from Davis (same train, i think??). At the last club meeting (Jan. 11th), there was talk about a Berkeley-Davis ride on March 17th, Amtrak home (about twice the distance of what we did today, basically a full century) and I think I’ll make a special point of joining in on the next one! There was also talk of a possible Martinez-Davis-Martinez round trip by bike option (Yes, this does come on the tails of Amtrak’s recent announcement re: restricting / turning away bikes when at capacity. As stated in my earlier posting about that subject, I just don’t think it will be very enforceable if they are also allowing people to park their luggage all over the bicycle parking area in the front/rear of the cars…. ah, time will tell how that will all unravel…..

Cheers and happy riding!

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