Today, in lieu of not being able to go see the Tour, I blew work early to go for a ride on my single speed Bianchi.
There's a levee near my apartment in Santa Clara that I've never been able to ride on, because I've only been here since December, and it's always dark when I leave work. So I hopped on the bike, and headed North. Perhaps it was my instinct to head North, some subconscious twitch trying to get me back to Chico... but I digress. This is a post about the joy of discovery when riding a bicycle.
I headed North, crunching through the gravel with slick Soma tires, a rigid fork, and one gear. I'm not gonna lie - I was feeling like a tough guy. I was full of myself, and I was fired up that I'd managed to get a mid-week ride in. Take that all ye suckers who are still in your cubes!
After a few miles of said grinding and fun, I looked up, and what do you know? San Francisco Bay is in view! At this point, I had about 45 minutes of daylight left, and I had no choice but to make it to the water, so I hammered. I took some hits at speed, managed to get some air, and nearly ate it over a set of railroad tracks. In my head, I suppose I was in my own Tour De California, cyclocross style.
As the Bay drew closer, I realized that I was coming into the little town of Alviso, and I was smack in the middle of those insane looking salt evaporation ponds that you can see from a plane when you fly in and out of SFO. And as it were, many of those salt ponds are now public, and have been made into Alviso Marina County Park.
Entrance to the park
Salt Ponds from the sky
Upon this discovery, I continued my ride out onto the embankments that create the salt pond borders. They go for several miles, and create a beautiful network of non-technical hardpack trails that are filled with seabirds of every sort, wetland plants, remnants of old fishing outposts, and glimpses of a California that has long since passed.
In some way on this ride, I felt like I was the one who discovered all of it. I didn't see another person (which is amazing in the Bay Area). I had no intention of doing anything but riding my bike for a while this afternoon, and instead I came upon a place that will now making living in Santa Clara during the week suck a whole lot less! Rock!
This type of thing has happened to me before on a bike - stumbling upon some gem that otherwise, I'd never have known it existed. And every time it happens I love it. To find some new, cool, unexpected place; therein lies the joy of discovery on a bicycle.