Monday, October 19, 2009

Blazing Saddles

Whatever the man in the cycle shop tells you, the Bay Area, just wide of the Golden Gate Bridge, is not "just like the South of France". It's especially not like the South of France on a dark and blustery Sunday, which feels even more frigid thanks to the warm, sunny-natured days that proceeded it. Not, in any case, unless the South of France has been covered with strip malls since the last time I visited.

"Just to let you know, I'm definitely walking up this last hill." I muttered, as the unnervingly hyper staff of Blazing Saddles cheered on an anguished looking biker as they grunted up the sharp incline to the store. We were being fitted for helmets.
"Then they won't clap for you."
"I don't want them to clap. In fact I'll warn them in advance not to clap."
Chris shrugged. You could tell that if I was going to get off and push, I should plan on doing it alone.

We started off in San Francisco, where a vicious headwind meant the flat, scenic bike path along the Marina felt like it'd been tilted uphill. By the time we were actually pedalling up the steep path to the bridge, my hill-addled legs were ready to mutiny.
"Sorry. We're cheating!" ho-hoed a couple who whizzed past us on electric bikes. Despite the evil glares of more than a dozen panting, unelectrified cyclists they singularly failed to fall off or run out of juice.

Cycling the bridge itself, watching the fog roll over the Marin headland and seeing the tops of pelicans plunge-diving for fish, was worth the climb - mainly because we knew we were taking the ferry back. In the end we had to sprint up the side of a dual carriageway to Tiburon to catch the boat at the last possible moment. Drinking sweet rose up on the top deck we ignored two venture capitalists verbally marauding South America and watched the sealions playing in the ship's wake.
"What is that, a porpoise?" Venture Capitalist 1, asked, jabbing a plump finger, but his friend was busy launching a mental raid on Brazil.

Back in San Francisco I found myself, against better judgement, sweating up Hyde street to Blazing Saddles HQ. Despite all my posturing, they clapped, I smiled, and I didn't even set them right about Sausalito and the South of France.

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