The problem with "15 mile ass" is that it makes longer, recreational group rides problematic, as most of them are a minimum of 20 miles. Needless to say, I don't go on them very often, and I end up feeling like I am missing out on the fun. I have done the Paradise Loop in Marin (20ish miles) on the Bat, and my butt hurt for 2 days after. So, I took the bike by the horns and decided to try a longer ride on a different bike- San Francisco to Fairfax (22 miles, one way) on my Xtracycle, the FUB (F---ing Ugly Bike). A bunch of friends were going, including Meli, and it was the perfect opportunity to introduce my 14 year old son, Cameron, to longer distance riding.
We started in San Francisco and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. This was the first time I have crossed on the west side of the bridge. The east side faces San Francisco and is usually jammed with tourists, so I am used to dodging people and having to be patient. The west side is only open at certain times, and only to bicycles. Needless to say, this is where the fast riders like to ride. We are not fast riders. We are slow and like to take things in. Many, many people whizzed past us, yelling "left!!!" repeatedly- some as a warning, but many because they wanted to make sure nothing and no one slowed them down (the man in the shot above was of the former variety).
After crossing the bridge and getting through Sausaltio we hit more open road and settled in for the ride. I was amazed, 20 miles at this point and no nether region problems. Between a different saddle and more forward riding position, my backside was just peachy! My hands, though, were starting to let me know there was a reason I had dumped my road bikes and moved to a traditional upright city bike- arthritis, recent wrist surgery and various other issues that will never go away. "To hell with that!" I declared to myself. "I will ride!" (my inner voice is very much the swashbuckler).
Camino Alto Stop
We made it to Fairfax after several stops. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was still in one piece. Even my right wrist was willing to take a break from stabbing me. We walked around and enjoyed the festival for a bit (funny how much pot smoke is allowed at environmental events : ).
Valet Is Full!
Coming home was a race against time. The ferry was leaving at 3:40 and we needed to be on it. There was no way I could make the whole trip home. The ride to Larkspur was balls to the wall the whole way ( especially after I threw my chain with just 5 minutes to spare!), but we made it. My friend Veronika and I talked about unemployment (pros and cons) while Cameron slept like the dead.
The ride home was all about concentration- the last 6 miles was spent ignoring my flaming wrist, the kink in my neck and the not so dull ache in my knee. Cameron had to concentrate so hard he didn't notice the 50 naked riders that passed in the opposite direction! We pushed the last two blocks. But we made it!
My right hand hurt for days after that ride, but Cameron and I rode 43.71 miles in all. I have not done that in 20 years! It has taken 15 years to get past knee problems, neck issues, hand injuries.... but I did it. I can do it again with minor adjustments (OK, not minor. I need a good touring bike with just the right set up for me, but I like the hunt, so it will be fun). Half a dozen Doctors and Physical Therapists have been proven wrong, and I have recovered most of what I lost.
There is a lesson here- never let someone else limit you. The only way you will ever know what you can and can not do is through trying. In the last 20 years I have failed more times than I care to remember, but I kept trying. I am not finished trying, there is so much more to do. Injuries can be dealt with, compensations can be made.
15 Mile Ass can become 44 Mile Ass!