Of Lions and Bicycles

As most of you know, I have an 84-year old uncle who regularly shames me by riding his bike up the side of a mountain 6 days a week.  This, and the fact that we have good friends that ride say, from Salinas to Cayucos in 2 days on highway 1, prompted me to prompt Ray to dust off the bikes and go for a ride this a.m.

Now…what could go wrong?  It started out good enough.  The fog was hugging the coastal hills so it was cool but no wind.  We drove our bikes (I was afraid to ride on the freeway) to Toro Creek Road (about 1/2 mile) and parked the car.  We unloaded the bikes and reattached the front wheels.  I donned my bike helmet and jumped on the bike.  Almost fell off.  But persistence won out and off I went with Ray following until he remembered that he forgot the water so turned back.  There I was alone….with my mind.  OMG.

Well, I probably should not have done this just a few short hours after viewing the ipad magazine TRVL.  In an effort to convince Ray and a few others that Africa should be on their bucket list, I found this app, TRVL.  It is a travel magazine that was developed strictly for the ipad.  An ipad magazine.  Very cool.  Anyway, I downloaded it and gave it to Ray after I downloaded an article called South Africa  (all this was free, by the way).   In the afternoon, we decided to take a walk on a new trail called the Estero Bluffs (see picture above and those below) and while hiking Ray told me about the video that was included in the So. Africa article.  It involved water buffalo, hungry lions and a ravenous crocodile.  It sounded fascinating so I watched it myself.  OMG.  I put it on Facebook.  Go check it out.  I also watched a lion killing a zebra by pouncing on it from behind and grabbing it by the throat to finish the kill.  It took 30 seconds.  Well…here I was biking out in the middle of a lonely 2 lane road in an area that looked just like So. Africa with dried grasses as high as an elephant’s eye.  My mind (in the form of an over-active imagination) caused me to put on the brakes so Ray could catch up.

That’s when I found out that my front brake didn’t work.  So, I came to a full stop so that I could figure out what was wrong with my brake and wait for Ray so that we could ride together so if, what?, I was attacked by a mountain lion he could call 911?  I mean really.  Number one.  He didn’t have his cell.  And number two, he wouldn’t have been able to get a signal.  Even so, I felt better reasoning that there was safety in numbers.

We started out together after the brake was repaired and I mentioned that I thought my seat needed adjustment because my knees were hitting the handle bars.  So, we stopped again.  OMG.  I had the front wheel backward so that all the hardware was facing in instead of out.  He turned the wheel and handlebars 180 and riding became much easier.  I didn’t even know the bike would do that.

I mean, have you ever done that?  I ask my bicycling friends.  Were you that dopey when you started riding bikes?  The only thing I say in my own self defense is that I did not look like a cyclist.  Wearing old levis and a frizzy coat with tennis shoes, there was no Lance Armstrong look here.  On the other hand, Mr. J was all decked out.  Bicycle shorts, a special jacket, gloves.  Does the word fashion plate come to mine?

But I digress.  Up the road we pedaled.  It is a 3 1/2 mile upward road.  But gentle.  Now keep in mind that I haven’t taken a bike ride that long since perhaps 1959.  But, hey, there I was.  A few cars/trucks passed but I managed not to run myself into a ditch.  In fact, I feel that since I returned from the ride without a trip to the emergency room of our local hospital, the outing was a success.

So, I have a question for my biking friends.  What do you do while you’re riding?  Do you imagine the unthinkable like me?  or are you imagining Rick Perry as President?  or are you off in some never-never land that goes undiscussed with your spouse?  do you fancy yourself a pro cyclist?  do you pretend you are somewhere else?  or do plan the evenings dinner?  what do you do?

Personally, I found my mind when not focussed on big cats at the top of the food chain, thinking about the next hill, how to shift this stupid bike, why doesn’t the attached gauge gauge anything?  Then there were the trees…beautiful and I was happy our snakes don’t live in them.   Will we see a snake?  Oh look at the cows.  They watched us go by…it was very cool.  But what about chafing?  Do we need special seats so it’s more comfortable?  Can I eat more now that I’m riding?  What are those guys doing over in the field, gleaming?  Why I couldn’t live off this road.  Oh, and the wind on the return ride made my ear hurt so I tried to pretend my ear didn’t hurt…mind over matter so of thing…and you know, that actually helped a wee bit.

But I digress again.  So, on the way back to the car, it was mostly downhill except for hill right at the end.  I started screwing with the gears.  And somehow I managed to derail the chain.  And everything became impossible.  The bike stopped.  Ray told me to coast to the car (we were very close and I had made it up the hill) and I did.  My dismount was a bit unnerving.  That is, I almost fell over getting off the frozen-geared beast.  But I didn’t!!  And Ray was probably thinking, OMG.  What’s she going to screw up next?

Well.  So.  There.  We did have fun.  And we’re going to do it again.

Here’s some more pictures of Estero Bluff State Park about 6 miles from our house.


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