Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jack London Ranch

(Not Jack London Park)

I can too easily fall into routine and stay there, sometimes, convinced that I am managing my happinesses well. 

There is a ride that I would consider my "daily ride" that is fantastic by nearly any standards, excepting perhaps that the roads in Sonoma could use some fresh taxpayer revenues. The ride takes me 60 minutes. Anything more is a mild disappointment, anything less is a victory, anything less than 58:20 is a personal record. But I do it almost every day, to economize time and to get the best workout that I possibly can in the shortest period of time. The topography of the ride is just about perfect for warming up, raising my heart rate and holding it there, achieving a summit, a long loop road that feels victorious in the sun, then the mostly downhill ride home done at top speed to keep my heart rate at or near 150 bpm. The last portion of the ride is a long slow incline to the stoplight near our place where I start and stop the clock.

It is all very sensible and pleasant. But, when I meander on the weekends I tend to enjoy it more. It triggers some sense of euphoria in wandering, a simulacrum of lust. There is something very sensible about it, also. 

This morning I went up to Jack London's house and ranch. I am well aware of this route and this hill by car - it passes Benziger Family Winery, a biodynamic farm - but, for whatever reason I have never bothered riding it. 

Then; today.

The first seasonal chill has arrived in the morning wind, just enough to welcome the warming-up phase of the ride. There is a country road named Arnold that will often make me sing one of my favorite Syd Barrett tunes. Then, at the center of the hamlet north of here that is Glen Ellen there is a road that departs up into the hills towards the ruin of the Wolf House and all else. This road is maybe only a 12-15 minute ride, maybe less, but it is uphill and heart healthy.

Midway up, the tree line clears and one can see well over into the next valley towards Rohnert Park and beyond, to the hills between here and the Pacific. The fog lies dormant as a distant dream, nestled into the valley crevice. Looking into it seems to give the eyes both wings and flight, a sense of lift and glide, the mind becomes an ascending murmuration, a flock in flight of itself.

Once to the ranger station there is a turnaround, then the swift downhill run where there is no gazing off into the near or far valleys, only the road and its curves, its dangerous inconsistencies of surface. 

There exists a thrill in speed, the intoxicating reduction of daydreams; rendering the rider lissome, slender, and pleasantly free. Hands compressing the curved levers of both brakes.