Stop And Smell The Fog


LeMond Road Bike Golden Gate Bridge

So how do your outdoor activities go? Fast, medium or slow? Do you blaze right on through whatver you are doing and try to beat your previous time or workout? Maybe you take it easy and try to enjoy each possible momement. Or possibly somewhere in between?

Usually, my go to activities are skiing, mountain or road biking, sports with movement and action. And, I guess I happen to fall into the first category of competing fast for the most part. I then try to remember a lot of the best moments upon my return. I am out there to get some excercise first you know.

However, recently, I was sort of forced into taking an easier course of action for reasons beyond my physical control. I noticed prior to my road bike ride home from work, that I had a sizeable chunk of rubber missing from my rear tire.Roadbike Tire Hole

I briefly thought about switching the rear tire to the front, however, I did then think ahead to my upcoming ride and chose not to do so. The reason being there are a couple of descents along my commute home and I would rather have my rear tire expire during the descent than a flat on my front tire for safety reasons. Having a couple of wild fishtails is preferred to a who knows what kind of incident occuring with a front blowout.

What I usually do is turn on my Samsung Galaxy phone’s GPS and fire up the Strava application. Once I have GPS lock and I’ve started to record with Strava, I am on my way. I’ve done this San Francisco to Larkspur Ferry ride for 10 years now, so I know it pretty well. Which also means, that I have trouble riding a faster time than ever before. So, usually, I try to find segments of the ride that I can come away with a best time.

However, today was going to be different. No, there wasn’t going to be too much pressng myself for killer segment times. The rear tire issue was the culprit and myself and the family had an BBQ party to attend after I returned hoem. Its one thing to repair a tube along the way. But its another to figure out a tire patch when the alternative is to take it easy and enjoy the San Francisco fog and smells of the city.

San Francisco Ferry Building At DuskI once heard that a persons’ olfactory sense has the best ability of all senses to bring you back to something you’ve done or have been previously. And you know what, ever since I heard this, when a certain smell or aroma hits my nostrils, I do have a greater notion to remember and relive briefly a certain place.

For me, I usually return instantly to Asia for a brief moment or two. Ahh, the instantaneous feelings of Kathmandu, Bangkok or Nairobi pour through me and a subtle smile ensues. The thoughts of the city or town return. The nostalgic feeling of being in a truly foreign culture is present just for a moment, somewhat fleeting and then quickly leaves.

I have a happy grin upon starting out as I am going to enjoy this commute, even knowing that I will not break any personal records or even reach the endorphin high which kicks in when I am giving it my all. So now I peddle north along the Embarcadero and onwards past the America’s Cup catamarans, village and mega-yachts of the high profile tourists heading for the famous FIsherman’s Wharf. Yes, it is summer in San Francisco, so it is cool and there’s just a slight but noticable headwind.

Is this little headwind a presursor to what is up ahead at Crissy Field when I turn west and head straight west beside the bay for the Golden Gate Bridge? I do not know yet. I’ve come to grips with the possibilities of  notorious headwind up ahead, which can be at its worst in the summer. There was a period of time when I would let the wind dictate my ride. Little to no wind and it was going to be a great ride. Heavy winds, not so much. And this was before Strava and all the high tech apps to track rides and segments.

I made peace with wind years ago since I decided I was not going to let the wind dictate whether my commute was going to be fun or not. I now look at the bike riders going east and with the wind as being lucky. I no longer curse the wind, even when it is vicious. Actually once, the gale force and steady wind did bring me to drop my chain onto the smallest chainring…….on flat ground!!! I’ve decided to enjoy the ride each time regardless of the elements and whether personal records would be set.Golden Gate Fog

The wharf was full of the summer tourists and finally the torn up road through has been re-paved and pleasantly re-designed, so it was slow going, but now smooth again. Riding along, Crissy Field had its usual breeze, but nothing substantial. The Golden Gate Bridge was mostly obscurred by the fog at least from the city side. One never knows until they cross the bridge what the weather is doing on the other side Only until you pass the north stantion on the bridge can you be sure of the weather to the north. Many tourists never realize that walkiing or riding another 100 or 200 yards further north on the bridge that the pea soup fog can end abrubtly and give way to cloudless and deep blue skies.

Routinely, I leave work on my roadbike and it is cool and low 60’s, only to ride across the Golden Gate and reach my destination where it can be in the mid 80’s. My personal record, with some margin for error, is leaving chilly San Francisco in the mid 50’s and arriving home and have the thermometer check in somewhere in the mid 90’s. The joy of summer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Take note, Global Fogging is real!!!

While riding by the piers along the waterfront, I heard and felt the deep horns of one of the cruise ships. The ship was beginning to leave its berth and head out to the Pacific towards another port. My quest (not a race, since I am taking it easier than normal) or fast cruise had begun as I was going to see if I could beat the boat to the Golden Gate Bridge. Its not very often to catch a cruise ship passing underneath the Golden Gate when you happen to be riding over it. And this on day when I was inclined to stop and take a peek at something along the route anyway.

So actually, today was both a good day and a lucky day for me.  I had a small “incentive” to taking it a little easier, but was also going to embrace the opportunity as well. Cruising instead of racing. My head on a swivel and not  my usual chin tucked down to my chest as my legs strained to keep the pace. My eyes wide open and darting around while taking in the amazing surroundings that this area has to offer. And importantly, not worrying were my next checkpoint was up ahead, but what I could possibly come upon next. And honestly, yes, it does feel good to stop and smell the fog once in awhile.

– Lane Lawrence