My Kind of Places

Day 22: Geek Mania


My knee had been feeling sore since Davis round 1.  Probably the long and hilly day up and over Lake Berryessa.  After some icing in Walnut Creek I knew I had another hilly route and therefore my knee could possibly get worse, but I loaded up and trucked on – not before a quick stop at Rivendell Bicycle Works.

Grant Petersen is a bike building legend.  He was head designer for Bridgestone back when they made bikes and his bikes are known for considering every aspect of cycling from style to comfort and ruggedness to practicality.  A couple of my favorites are the XO series, MB-2’s and up, his wacko’s, the Blouson and Do-Re-Mi Patrol.  I found an amazing MB-0 in Portland that I wanted to build my tourer out of, but the brake mounts were underneath the chainstays which are a pain to maintain.  Petersen founded Rivendell, which sells custom bikes that focus on off-road touring.

The company is tucked away in an unmarked alley between autobody shops.  The only way

When you see a bunch of bikes you know you’re in a good spot.

to recognize it is the silver bicycle sign sticking out from the wall.  I rolled up with my loaded bike and employees walking between Rivendell’s two spaces turned their heads and were impressed.  I got to talking to a few of them and they gave me an unofficial tour of their studio complete with a complementary espresso and pear.  I could have stayed there for hours.  The bikes were incredible!  I’ll let the pictures do the talking but I couldn’t believe the class these bikes had.  Every single one was shined to gallery beauty but rugged enough to trek fully-loaded along rocky cliffs.  I told them my right knee was bothering me and so they gave me a proper bike-fitting measurement on top of a special log with horseshoe foot placements.  Turns out my seat was about 3 mm too short so we raised it to give it a shot.

Extra bar for better strength and less flexibility. And classy to boot.

After a few test rides of their bikes I headed on my way to my aunt and uncle’s in Oakland.  Again, I found a spectacular off-street path that took me almost all 18 miles to my uncle’s.  At one point I did have to hit a narrow and winding mountain road when a couple of Gram Crackers (a name I’ve given to high-performance roadies with super lightweight bikes who are always watching the gram count of their machine) whizzed past me.  They came super close and passed without warning.  I gave them the bird and steamed for a bit.  Us bicyclists have to stick together and show some courtesy.  They know what it feels like to be passed unexpectedly.  But they can’t interrupt their wattage output to offer a “On your left!” call.  There’s more to life than roasting the competition you goddamn Gram Crackers.

After the climb I found a mountain bike route that would take me to my uncle’s.  Boom

Sloping “mixte” bar for extra height of a 29er TOUR BIKE! Bombadil is another branch of Rivendell. The ultimate ride…

baby yeah!  I lowered my gears and hit the muddy trail.  I got about 30 strokes in before my wheel just slid through the muck and my bike began to topple.  I didn’t anticipate the trail so I had my slicks on.  I had to push my bike uphill the next two miles to my uncle’s.  I was reaffirmed again that my bike is not light.  There was a road at the end of the trail and so I popped on my bike again.  An older guy on a mountain ride came up behind me and started talking to me about my adventure.  At the end of our conversation he asked me, “Hey man.  You wanna burn?”  Oakland is alright.

That night I got to hang out with my family and my uncle made us a delicious Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  It was so nice to have another warm house with delicious food and great family to talk to.  Plus, they gave me heating pads and a backgammon set and some bottles to hold oil and hot sauce.  Chiblam Chiblooey.

Day 23: No rest when the biking is best

After a long day of riding this is Earth’s gift to me.

My knee was still bothering me but I had a lot to do.  My dad’s aunt and uncle live in Oakland so I had to go see them.  My dad’s sister lives in Oakland and she had my pocketknife (I accidentally left it with her daughter) and I had to hit Oakland’s mountain bike trails with my knobbies on.  So I got an early start with a tasty breakfast to slap my knobbies on and spend about an hour plotting out my route for the day to hit all of my stops.

I caught some amazing views on the way down to see my dad’s family.  The hills of Oakland really have a fantastic view of the whole bay.  And the bomb down through the view was even better.  It was a little scary to go so fast with such tight turns on knobby tires.  I must have written the address to my uncle’s wrong because the house did not look at all familiar.  I knocked on the door and asked the woman if she knew where the Bailey’s lived.  She didn’t know who the Bailey’s were, nor did she know what her neighbors’ names were.  A very close neighborhood.  Finally I found their house and had a great time visiting with them.  Even met a younger cousin of mine, Eli.  Woot!

Afterwards it was a fast climb to my aunt’s to fetch my knife.  Followed by a longer climb

Wouldn’t mind doing this everyday.

to the beginning of the mountain bike trails.  Steep, steep and steep.  But I made it and the mountain biking was superb.  Muddy, ups and downs with hardly a soul on the trails through redwoods and Bay area views.  By the end of it all my knee hurt pretty bad, but it was nothing a gin & tonic can’t cure.  I had dinner with my cousin who lives less than a mile from my uncle.  Max and Megan are a ton of fun and it was cool to eat with their family.  Megan is actually my dad’s cousin and she would visit our family when I was much younger while she attended the U of O.  I liked that the cycle was continuing with older cousins hosting younger cousins.  Now Grace and Declan are going to have to visit me someday when I’m all established and such.  Oh – don’t trust googlemaps for addresses.  Even though I typed in specific addresses for my uncle’s and my cousin’s homes, they were changed after showing me the route.  Knocked on two wrong doors that day.


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