Archive for August, 2010
China Camp State Park borders the San Pablo Bay. Less well-known than the San Francisco Bay, San Pablo Bay has its own low-key charm.
The lagoons and picnic areas around China Camp are great places to stop for a beer, some food, or just to soak your feet (if not go for a swim). Plus, the trails in the surrounding hills draw mountain bikers from around the region.
The name of the park derives from the 1880s Chinese shrimp fishing village that once thrived here.
Note: right pant leg tucked carefully into sock.
I recently pedaled up to Alpine Lake and had the foresight to pack a little fruit and one of these spiffy stainless steel Japanese Suncraft knives.
As I bit into this juicy kiwi, I remember thinking:
How is it that I’m sitting here now and eating a tiny fruit that was harvested on the other side of the earth?
There was no judgment over the astronomical (one might even say grotesque) carbon footprint of my organic New Zealand kiwi – it was simply a sense of wonder that I live at a time in human history where such an act is even possible.
Note: After writing the above post I discovered that a “sense of wonder” is a recognized concept in science fiction literature. It’s related to a “numinous” experience. Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:
The sense of wonder is related to, but not identical to, the concept of the numinous…the numinous, in this case, is the understanding that there is something not directly comprehensible, but large and entirely other, in the world. The sense of wonder, by contrast, is the understanding that there is something that one had not fully comprehended — or perhaps had not even recognized that there was something to be comprehended — until that point.
Initially, I told him I was a little embarrassed by the distinction. The cycling community is full of so many riders that are accomplishing amazing physical feats or doing other extraordinary things with bicycles. I felt a little inadequate in this regard. But I’ll continue to do my part, whatever that may be. Thanks Jack!
And this reminds me. I’ve been remiss in acknowledging other blogging friends and supporters of The Friday Cyclotouriste to whom I am most grateful. They include:
- Myles at Rat Trap Press;
- Eddie at The Everyday Cyclist;
- Esteban at velo-flaneur;
- Alan and Michael at EcoVelo;
- Meli at Bikes and the City; and,
- Dave at Yurtville.
All are amazing blogs. I encourage you to visit.
(P.S. The above picture, which I sent to Jack, was made with the camera on the ground using the 10-second timer on a recent Thursday evening ride up the hill near Alpine Lake).
Sitting at Caffe Acri may be as close as one gets to a truly European cafe experience in Marin County. At least on the surface. There is the outdoor seating area, the marble tables, and the general ambiance of downtown Tiburon where tourists and locals mingle on their way to the ferry terminal, local shops, and famous restaurants like Guaymas (which apparently is now a bit of a disaster judging by a slew of recent yelp reviews).
I ordered my usual — a single espresso — and specified “for here” so as to get it in a ceramic espresso cup rather than in a silly, over-sized disposable cup. I added a mini-tiramisu for something sweet to eat and so I wouldn’t be tempted to add sugar to my drink.
So how does the espresso rate?
As a scientific observer, I would conclude the espresso was only average: rather thin crema that dissipated quickly and there was not much body or complexity to the taste. However, a rational scientist I am not when it comes to these evaluations.
On this particular day, consuming Caffe Acri’s espresso was like eating a 99-cent bowl of ramen noodles on a backpacking trip. Surely, you’ve had this experience. You’re outdoors beside a river or high-up on some mountain. You’ve been working hard and your body is tired, and for some reason the food (whatever it is) tastes sublime and you’re grateful to have it.
Despite this, for the pure espresso experience one should seriously consider other coffee establishments. Places that come to mind include: Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, and Ritual, although none of these have north bay locations yet (I can dream though).
Along the Tiburon promenade with Angel Island and San Francisco in the background.
I’m starting to prefer the tighter field of view of this image vs. the (similar) image I posted earlier.
TIburon peninsula on the left. Angel Island on the right.
A beautiful, sunny day in this micro-climate, but note the white clouds around the island. That’s fog enveloping most of the bay (as seen in the pictures in the above post made not too long after this one). As I mentioned in my ride report, I was tempted to bail out on this ride. I’m really glad I didn’t.
Descending into Tiburon
Seen here from Paradise Drive, San Quentin prison (far horizon in the center) sits on some prime real estate .
Since my previous post highlighted this marsh, I thought I’d share a B&W image made with an old Fuji S2 digital camera. The view is from deep in the marsh looking west toward Mt. Tam across tussocks of Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana). Over the course of a couple weeks, I made a series of images in this area last spring. This was one of my favorites.
These are images of the Corte Madera Marsh and some bike paths leading to it (discussed in my earlier ride report)
That’s a Canadian goose on the lower left (the geotag shows the spot of this photo). I think the geese use this wetland as a stopover of some kind, but where they go and from whence they come — I do not know.
On a good day the marsh is also full of Egrets, Snowy Plovers, Pelicans, and various ducks.
The marsh is situated within an active urban landscape with:
- the towns of Greenbrae and Larkspur to the north
- a big shopping mall and the Tiburon peninsula to the south
- the San Francisco Bay and the San Quentin Prison to the east
- Highway 101 and the foothills of Mt. Tam to the west
The amount of water in the marsh is infuenced by tide levels and winter rains so there are always new islands and water channels appearing and disappearing day-to-day.
Some future bicyle advocates returning from Angel Island while I wait to board.
From Shoreline Park in Tiburon, looking southwest with Belvedere “island” and the Golden Gate Bridge in the background
Having a goal or purpose is important in life and in cycling.
That doesn’t mean you always need a purpose — sometimes it’s okay to allow spontaneity and impulse be your guide.
But on this ride, having the goal of riding to, and circumambulating, Angel Island was critical. Without that goal I would have turned around after 30 minutes because of the extreme gusty wind and fog.
The ride was about 40 miles round trip. I carried water and one PB&J (I ate a hearty late breakfast and didn’t require much else). I wore cotton pants, a cotton t-shirt, a cotton long-sleeve collared shirt. I also brought a thinly-insulated zip-up hoodie for extra layering (but my big regret was not bringing a beanie or cap).
It was sunny and warm when I left Fairfax at about 12:15pm, and the first part of the ride was spent meandering through central Marin towns and cities: the little bike path on the canal behind College of Marin and the path along Corte Madera Creek.
But as I approached the marsh near the Village Shopping Center the winds picked up — probably 15-20 mph head and cross winds with gusts to 25-30 mph on certain straightaways. Gusts flared around nearly every bend of Paradise Drive as I rode the long serpentine back road, past the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, to downtown Tiburon and the Angel Island ferry.
A mile from downtown, the fog and wind let up. The azure sky and stately homes along Marin’s gold coast (Belvedere and Tiburon) stood gloriously against the choppy Bay and the San Francisco skyline. I suddenly felt happy after more than an hour of not-so-happy pedaling.
I had to wait about 20-25 minutes and then caught the 3:00pm ferry across the Raccoon Strait to Angel Island.
When I arrived on the island the fog and wind picked up again and I made a head-down, very earnest turning-of-the-cranks circumambulation of the island. The initial plan was to follow the high fire road, which is the closest a bicycle can get to the top of Mt. Livermore (741′ EL). But the signage was poor and I somehow missed the turn.
Truth be told, I was kind of glad I missed my turn. This way I could follow the more popular (and gentler) Perimeter Road loop and get back to the quay a bit before the 4:20pm return ferry (since I was initially expecting to return on the last ferryboat of the day leaving an hour later.)
Of course, I couldn’t resist stopping for an espresso and a tira misu at Caffe Acri (review to come) once I was back on the mainland. Now, sufficiently energized, I rode furiously home while getting slammed by head winds for most of the trip (but also catching a few miles of tremendous tailwinds — for which I thank the spirit of St. Velocio).
A bit past 6pm, I arrived home to a memorable hot shower.
All in all, it was a frustratingly beautiful day on the bicycle, and well worth the effort!
Here’s a gps file of the ride to Angel Island. The mileage on the elevation profile is one-way. And the point where the pink line ends on the upper map is where my gps data logger ran out of batteries. It wasn’t a bad place for this to happen, however, as by that time the route was already nearly fully logged and delineated.
Remember you can change map types or zoom in or out to taste, using the Google map control buttons.