The Chest Cold that Will Not End has finally taken its leave of my chest cavity, my back is finally cooperating, and the weather has mercifully relented, giving way to sun and very light breezes! Today was a good day for a ride.
Recently, I made my first trip to Miller-Knox Regional Park, all told, about a 40 mile trek. But enjoyable as that ride was, it was slow with lots of stops. It was the first long ride – or any ride – I had done for weeks, and its being so mellow was the only reason I survived it. My seat post, which had recently been adjusted, was still too high and by the end, I was extremely uncomfortable.
Today was something of a test. During the long ride of a couple weeks ago, my hands were in bad shape by the end – tingling and numb, needing to be stretched and off handle bars with alarmingly increasing frequency. My seat post has been adjusted since then to a more appropriate height for me, which I am hoping will help to alleviate the pain in my hands.
So, shooting for something mellow but longer than a quick jaunt around Lake Merritt, I headed out to Alameda Island. Normally, I would accompany this with a trip to Bay Farm as well, completing my usual loop, but today I opted to head out to the decommissioned Naval base.
I have known about this place for a long time, but have never actually known where it was. Part of the base is still used in an administrative capacity, and I stayed well away from that portion – people lurking around with cameras on military bases are rarely well received. But after riding out to the end of a road for this…:
… I turned around to have my eye caught by what turned out to be this:
At first I was extremely unsure if I was even allowed to be where I was, but after a taco truck blew past me, I figured it was probably safe. There were also signs for a skate park, wine tasting, and a distillery. At that point I threw caution to the wind and struck out towards the decommissioned part of the base.
The whole place had the feel of an abandoned mental hospital – had I been here at night I’m fairly sure I would have been deeply unsettled. But there are functional parts of this same area, like a gym open twice a week for basketball games. The skate park, humble though it may be, is also close by. But once I rounded the last corner, I could see the old hangars which now contain the aforementioned distilleries.
I spent a bit more time here, but I didn’t bring my lock with me so I couldn’t leave my bike to go in any place or even walk around open spaces unencumbered. As I was heading out of the base, I did stop to enjoy the subtle yet clear message left by Navy Traffic Wardens past:
But Alameda is not all decommissioned Navy bases. It is also a place full of strange, giant homes and lots of quiet, flat riding. I went from the base to Ballena Bay, where the wind made it impossible to sit for too long before getting cold, despite the warmth of the day.
I took a ride along the water in a different direction, mostly to enjoy the tail wind it afforded me which gave my legs, now hurting a little bit from the amount of miles in them, a little respite.
Heading towards the bridge I needed to get back on the Oakland side, I passed a street I have passed many times before, that has always struck me as idyllic and, in some way, quintessential to what I think growing up should feel like. That street has a name I don’t know, but I can show you what it looks like.
After this street, I headed home. The seat post adjustment is working different muscles in my legs – ones not used to being engaged for things other than serious hills. To be working so hard for so long was exhausting, and I was ready to go home, make some lunch, and wash off the sunscreen and dirt that had accumulated on my arms, legs, and face. Which is exactly what I did. I now have some excellent feedback for my bike shop and some excellent bio-feedback for myself. My hands did much better this time around, though I did have some numbness in my arms and shoulders by the end. If anyone has any suggestions or theories on that one, please feel free to comment – I have never had that happen before and don’t look foreword to having it happen again.
Before ending the ride, I took my first successful panda shot – I have never made attempts to do this because it always struck me as sort of a silly thing to do. But, I realized today how much I enjoy looking down, seeing my water bottle and bike moving along with me, the road blurred beneath me, my legs moving seamlessly up and down, propelling me forewords. I made several attempts which I actually forgot about completely until going through today’s set.
I leave you with one last photo – one for which I intentionally used a poor reflective surface. This was on the breezeway, in the barracks/school/mental hospital.
Spring is here and summer is coming fast on its heels. To quote John Muir: “we all need spaces to play in and pray in.” Adventure, even to places I have known about for years, is restorative to me in a way that most other things aren’t. I have been needing a day like today more than I realized until I was out there, poking around a building I had no business being anywhere near. Happy riding, everybody!