Uneasy Rider

Into the woods, and outta the woods, and home before . . . dark.

Who says: it’s like riding a bicycle. You never forget.

Seems I forget.  With disturbing regularity. 

I’ve never been as apprehensive to take a vacation as this time around,  but clearly I was not in in the right frame of mind and body to take “The Explorer” Six-Day Bike Trek through Sonoma and Napa Valley the last week in August.  

Yes, the trip sounds idyllic enough.  Come, “saturate your senses,” the website beckons, “with the sights, sounds and smells in one of the world’s premier bicycling regions.”  

Umm, sounds yummy.  

“A blend of panoramic views.”  True.

“Flavorful wines.”  Indeed.

“Quaint towns.”  (Sure ‘nuf, where the art of tie-dye can still be found.)

“Quiet back roads.” Not!  

( I note that those California tax dollars have not been at work on the roads of late.)

Cycling -- spinning miles over hill-and-valley for hours on end on a road bike -  that’s my husband’s passion, not exactly my idea of recreation. 

As far as I’m concerned, biking is hard work.  Hard on the legs, the shoulders, the hands and the butt. It takes my full concentration, and a bit of psyching out,  to stay up, stay on . . . and yes, to stay alive in traffic whizzing by on those “twisting byways.” 

 I confess, I don’t sleep well the night before a ride.  

Okay, I’m a wimp, a fair-weather cyclist. But I’m a good sport,  game for a good ride.  In shape - and just barely fit for a jersey - to join my husband for a bike tour.  All the better, just so long as wine and fine dining are somehow involved on a daily basis.    

And so I ride. Within reason. 

I know my limits. And I’m not afraid to impose them. I prefer corn fields and quiet (abandoned) country roads to scenic winding climbs and heart-pounding descents on hills.  I’m good to go for 20 miles, 30 if absolutely necessary to get to the nearest lunch break. Like a mule, or a horse trained for the trail, I tend to speed up on the last homing miles, at the sight of the barn, the finish line, the town center where shops and refreshments can be found.  I favor average speeds of 12 miles per hour - Only under duress or rare moments of confidence in the saddle, do I let out the brake to speeds past 20 mph.  

I hate traffic.  


Busy intersections. 

Red lights. 

Left turns.


Garbage trucks.

Speeding cars. 


I deplore wearing latex. 

 Just give me a quiet, newly paved asphalt road . . . or a beach and a cruiser. Or a golf course and a beer.

But proof that I am open to just about anything in the spirit of travel adventure, I gamely agreed to one more “cycling trip of a lifetime,” - our second trip with Trek Travel - (the first being to Tuscany, where we thoroughly enjoyed the countryside, the weather, the pasta, and the weekend in Florence).  

I remained encouraged that the experience would be good,  if not for our long and happy marriage, than at very least for “bragging  rights,” road stories recounted over cocktails, photos sent to friends, new knowledge of California wine, not to mention a long-overdue post, noting that I’m almost out of practice, having abandoned my post(s) here at "Wild Turtle" lo these many weeks.  

So with my apologies for rusty beginnings and endings, let me at least offer a glimpse of the “last leg of our trip,” on the trails through Armstrong Redwood National Forest where I spent the day, not on a bicycle, but happily and mercifully on foot, with camera in hand. 

At my (un)graceful - yet grateful age, slightly north of 60 now, there are things  I should carefully consider before embarking upon, bicycling being close to the pinnacle of the list, along with parasailing, skiing and scuba diving.  But no, I tend to keep getting back up on the bike, (even as I tend to take repeated spills, caught up in the toe clips on downward slopes).  Sporting scraped knees and bruised shins and sore thighs like a 12-year old, I go on, old bones unbroken, wondering why and whoever said riding a bike is just like . . . riding a bike.  God only knows how. . .you never forget. 

Photos: Vhenoch
With thanks for riding by


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