Monday, June 9, 2008

The Ragfields in San Francisco: Day 1

Sunday 8 June 2008

Every year, Rob attends the WWDC conference in San Francisco. Every year, we have toyed with the idea of me coming along, but we’ve never done it until now. We woke bright and early, took separate planes and two folding bikes, and after a long day of travel, we both finally arrived. Rob’s company is putting him up in a really nice hotel. When—most bedraggled—we staggered into the hotel lobby, I felt like character Pigpen from Peanuts. You know, the one who always has a cloud of dirt and dust around him. I wondered how they were ever going to let riff-raff Ragfields stay at a place as swank as this. But they did, and we hauled our bikes and luggage up to the room. The door hadn’t even closed behind us and Rob started setting up the bikes.

It was about 5pm; I’d been traveling since 4 in the morning and hadn’t really eaten anything other than a Clif Bar, a little fruit, and a couple fig newtons, but Rob was eager to take out the bikes and ride to the Golden Gate Bridge (about 8 miles from our hotel). I had this weirdly exhausted bravado (or perhaps I knew that it was just inevitable), so I agreed and off we went. Riding through the downtown, with all the cars and stoplights was okay. In fact it was all going pretty well until I had to cross an obliquely lined cable-car track and my front tire got stuck in the rut and I didn’t even know what happened until I was face down on the pavement and heard a woman call out, “Are you okay?” Mercifully, I was, but the handlebars of my bike were bent. A few quick adjustments and we were off again, other than my entire body was shaking so bad I could barely pedal. Rob later told me that something similar had happened to big name pro-cyclist Alberto Contador (getting his tire stuck in the rut of train tracks) and he fell and broke his elbow. I think he went on to win the Giro or Vuelta or something like that afterwards, I'm not sure. I definitely wasn't going to win anything after that.

We rode along the Embarcadero, past Fisherman’s Wharf, and through the Presidio, none of which I really saw because I spent the entire time trying to dodge meandering tourists, skateboarders zigzagging across the road, cars (in some places), and people who would walk right out in front of you and then stop. This was the worst on the hills. Physically, I’m just fine. The hills were comparable to the big hill in Santa Cruz. Mercifully, there were no rocks or chickens, but there were plenty of other hazards. It was like some kind of horrible video game. Oh, and it was windy. Hella windy.

Meli by Alcatraz

Rob and Meli in front of Alcatraz

By the time we got to the bridge I was screaming at Rob and swearing a blue streak. I am a marathon runner, isn’t that enough?? I do not like riding a bike. There are too many *&^%$&* people in my way. Nonetheless. We rode across the bridge. It was a lot longer than I’d thought, and there was so little joy in it. The lack of joy was made up for by an abundance of wind. I wished that there were weights I could attach to my handlebars because it was so windy I could barely control the bike. At 2 locations, around the giant girders, you had to do this sharp right, sharp left, and another sharp right around completely blind, very narrow corners. I swear to god the wind must have been 100 miles an hour at this part, and it was very likely you would meet another cyclist that you wouldn’t see until crashing into him or her. I don’t know how a hundred people don’t die here every day. The entire path was barely wide enough for 2 cyclists to meet. At one location I saw a phone labeled something like “Emergency and Crisis Hotline.” I suppose that was for people who were contemplating jumping, but I wondered if my situation warranted using it. I didn’t actually want to die, I just was so certain that I was going to.

By the grace of some deity, we managed to ride back across the bridge and the remaining 8 or 9 miles to our hotel. It had been about 20 miles round trip, with some minor diversions we took to look at the bay, etc. We finally ate dinner at a little place across from the hotel called “Naan and Curry”—seriously good Indian/Pakistani food.

When we came back to the room, I checked my email, and much to my amazement, I had a little message from Eduardo! I couldn’t believe it. After 5 months, I finally hear from him again. He had gotten my birthday email. He seemed surprised that I remembered his birthday, and he said he wasn’t celebrating it (didn’t say why). He said he was happy to receive my email and he hoped that I was well. He sent greetings to Rob and my family. His message seemed a little sad, but at the very least, I was relieved to hear from him again.

At any rate, I’m hoping for a better Day 2 in San Francisco. At the moment I kind of hate it, which probably makes me the only person who’s ever been here that’s felt that way. I would also say that this is NOT a bike friendly town, what with all the cable car tracks to traverse in the downtown area and all the idiot tourists you have to dodge even on the “bike paths” in the parks. The Golden Gate Bridge didn’t even impress me, nor did the ocean make me happy. All I could think was, here is this beautiful place, that white people stole from Native Americans and crudded up with a bunch of buildings and this god-awful bridge.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do to make Day 2 better, because I honestly feel that if I leave this hotel room, I will never make it back here again. There is a pool somewhere in the hotel, but I don’t know if I could find it; plus its only 53 degrees out, so not good swimming weather. At any rate, I’d better go and figure out how to make the most of this day. Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Glad you lived to tell about your experience of DAY 1 in SAN FRANCISCO!!!!!!!! soooo glad you did NOT injure your body,,esp,your BEAUTIFUL TEETH!!!!!!! Guess dodging chickens, ROCKS, and little children, is better!!!!!! THose are some AWESOME PICTURES< in spite of the terrifying ride...... especially LOVE the close up , of you and rob with the GGB in the background, and YOUR HAIR doing this THING that looks like your holding a HOT WIRE!!!!!!!! Must have been quite a WIND!!!!!! Just 'find' the pool and relax for the next few days......... ( so glad for the news from Eduardo) what a sweetie, he is....... ya have to wonder what is going on with him??? Luv and hugs, foxy mama

Anonymous said...

I know Rob is enjoying that beautiful city (as he always has.)

Mom Scho

amypfan said...

I'm very proud of you for looking so happy in the pictures in spite of how exhausted you must have been!!