December loop

Posted by Ted on Dec 1, 2009 in Biking

Living in Boston, I got used to putting the bike away sometime in early November. Sure I know people who bike through the New England winter, bundled in layers, bulked up like Charlie Brown on the coldest days.

But I’m a wimp. As soon as it starts to get into the low 50s, I’d call it a season. I’ve managed to ride in December before on a freak warm day, but it would be very rare. Today’s Boston high was 46, and would not have been such a day. (The record of 71 degrees was in 2001, so it does happen.) Here in Oakland however, it was a very nice 61, and so I decided to do the Tunnel/Skyline loop.

Berkeley-Tunnel-Skyline

When I biked up College Ave in Berkeley, I was caught by the smell emanating from Zachary’s Pizza, and I decided that a slice sounded way better than the Clif bar in my pocket. Normally we avoid pizza in favor of the “too unhealthy” response, but I figured that I’d work it off. At a rough guess it was 215 calories. After a slice of veg, I continued on my way.

As I started the ascent up Tunnel Rd, I wondered how the climb would be. Of the 3 or 4 ways to get up to Skyline, it’s the easiest – a long, slow, 5% grade – but it’s still more than I’d done in months. No problem. It was a great ride. It felt like fall with the occasional Japanese maple still red or yellow, and the air was crisp. I saw a low sun reflecting on the bay and San Francisco was barely visible in a misty shroud. When I passed into the shadow of the hills on Skyline, I was glad for the mid-weight long-sleeved and long-legged gear that I’d purchased in the spring. Too warm during the climb in the sun, they were just shy of perfect in the shade and as I soared down Joaquin Miller road at 35 mph.

I can’t describe how pleased it makes me that I can reasonably expect the same chance of weather and temperature on January 1st, February 1st, and March 1st. I still bike less overall than I did in Boston, but being able to bike throughout the year, comfortably, without bundling up like Charlie Brown, makes me very happy.

Oh, and that slice of pizza? Dwarfed by the 2738 calories that I burned.

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An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. He is also managing editor for Rolf Potts' Vagabonding, where he curates a Case Study series. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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