Cycling General

{moszoomimglink:Sausalito}My friends Stephen and James decided they would go to the AIDS LifeCycle ride this year again, and are getting all their friends to help out, or join. After a little bit of prodding, and after a very positive weather forecast, I finally agreed to join them for their Sunday training ride.

I thought it was just going to be a bunch of guys from spinning class, but it turned out to be a major training ride for the whole San Francisco contingent of ALC. So, while I was puzzled as to why we would want to meet at 6:45 for a ride that wouldn't start until 7:30, it all made sense once I saw the about 200 riders congregate.

Read more: ALC Training Ride

The day is gorgeous, albeit a little chilly. Another two hours or so, and I'll be on my bike, riding to distant lands and trying to get back into shape.

Distant lands? No, my standard route is still unchanged. I leave the house, a few turns left or right, and I end up on Foothill Expressway, the Peninsula's major biking thoroughfare.

Sometimes it feels as if everybody has to ride Foothill. In the summer, the packs of bikers are such that the main highway is cramped into one single car lane, while the buzzing of chains on gears can be heard from afar.

You get into one of those packs, and you can't get out. You'll be enveloped, unable to rush against the flow, unable to pass or to slow down. You feel like a bee in a hive, until the next traffic light comes up and half the riders cross at red, the other half obediently waits.

It's official now: the rainy season started. California will be enveloped in clouds for a considerable portion of the next four months, drowning us in three quarters of the annual rainfall.

And yet, although my biking will have to be cut back, it is not all bad. You should see the clouds lit afire by the setting sun, or the pink watercolors you'd see in the morning looking east. I sometimes try to catch those paintings with a camera, but they are as elusive as hummingbirds - of whom we see more now that they rely on the feeder to get through the winter.

And then, of course, you have the pleasure of the days getting longer again. Two weeks, and the shortest day will be past us, and the slow crawl towards normality will start again. Soon after the days will be recognizable again, there you are, the mimosas will explode in color and perfume, and I will be able to savor their fragrance on my way home.

Dreadful all you get from the winter is the desire to get out of it.

4:30 AM. No alarm clock is bugging me, no need to wake up, the sun won't be shining for another two hours or three.

And yet, something immaterial makes my soul levitate into consciousness. All of a sudden I function in wake-state, and the logical flow of my mind is restored where it was interrupted.

The transition is sudden, and sometimes it feels as if there had been one single moment when it happened, as if the soul were not, as it seems, a flowing entity, but one that makes leaps to reach from one end of the chasm to the other.

It's been raining all day, in the first of a series of torrential flows that mark the beginning of the rainy season. Well, at least it's in mid-December and not in November, like last year.

The rain feels so odd here. So out of place. Especially when it's not drizzling, but pouring like it was today. We don't see much of that, haven't in the last seven eight months.

When it rains in California, the gutters explode. The water shoots from all sides, draining into rivers that gush over streets first, then highways, and then even freeways. The state, at least from San Francisco South, is not used to rain and takes each occurrence of a severe storm as an unplannable catastrophe.

Just like a snowfall would freeze Rome's very existence, a rain storm will knock off power poles, will make mature trees collapse, will see roofs fly away and roads become impassable.

And all one can think is that it would seem so predictable.