September 14 , 2004: The Stairsmaster

For the vast majority of this ride I was a vapid, empty-headed zombie—just a pair of legs turning the cranks, navigating on autopilot. It was miles for miles sake. But out of nothing fomented something that may prove sustaining on into next year.

It was a basic recovery ride, with minimal hills and lots of opportunities for easy spinning because my legs were still pretty burnt from Saturday's ride with Romulus (See September 11, 2004: Beyond Category (HC)). I started things out with a backside EG, made the Crack, and pulled a complete Inspiration Point circuit. From there, I dropped back down to the Cabrillo and took the bike path and coastal trails down to Strawberry Ranch. Fired up the lights and came back up to Princeton, zipped back across the Cabrillo, and pushed my way through the lower backside EG. All after-work weekday rides from now until next May will require the lights. For now, I'm using only the handlebar light and trying to get comfortable with that.

The tree, overlooking Inspiration Point
Deep within the coastal trails
Cannonball embraces the night

As mentioned, somewhere during the course of the mindless pedaling, I had an inspiration. On Bonzai's last night in the City, we had drunkenly careened around North Beach, including an obligatory trip to Coit Tower. On the way down from the CT, we took the Filbert Street stairs, a spindly set of at least 15 flights of metal stairs tacked to the side of a sheer cliff up there on Telegraph Hill. During our descent of these steps, Crystal commented on how steep they were and I boldly announced that I could probably ride my bike down them. Crystal disagreed and offered a sum of $250 if I could pull it off without stopping or crashing. I told him he was on.

They are very intimidating steps. Take away the fact that it's certain death just over the left railing and you've still got a very intimidating set of steep and numerous steps. It is a long, long, steep set of staircases. Still and all, I think it is doable and I want to do it. I think I'll make a short movie documenting the training and the attempt. But I'm going to need to prepare for it, and as part of the preparation, I need to hit all staircases and steep technical downhills I see. I began my training today by taking on the steps near the Barbecue Meats place in the Pillar Point Marina. It's a set of about 35 cement steps, nothing too hairy, but it still took me three tries before I had the cajones to roll off the top step. Stairs aren't that tough, you just have to hold on and ride them out. I'll feel a lot better about tackling steps with the Shug' rather than the modest suspension of the Hoo-E. The problem with the Filbert Street stairs is that there are a shitload of them. I'm going to have to hit the weights to have the strength to outlast them.

Enjoyed a great sunset from the cliffs along the coastal trails—the fall sunsets are the most golden and so Californian. Saw two owls today. One was an orange barn owl that flew out of a tree and right by me. The other was more of a vision quest. I was riding in some trees and I saw it fly out of one tree and between me and another tree. It should have immediately come out on the other side of the tree, but I never saw it again. I was riding towards it at the time, so I should have caught some sign of movement somewhere. Nothing, gone, like it was never there. Very Twin Peaks. Also saw a Great Blue Heron.


Mileage: 21.17 Time: 1:54:26 Avg: 11.1 Max: 23.9 Weight: 169

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