Day 2 The social ramble, it ain't restful - BayCycle 2009 - CycleBlaze

June 8, 2009

Day 2 The social ramble, it ain't restful

San Leandro to Albany

Let me tell you, if you're going to fit visiting people into your tour, you better allot mucho time. This day was a surprise to me in that regard. We had a several people pencilled in, and the day got away from me.

We started by picking up our bikes from Ellen's place. Then she said two of her poker buddies wanted to see us as we rode by, one around the corner and the other in Alameda. Her back neighbor, Shirley, was on her way to her regular Monday line dancing class so we had to get moving. Shirley oohed and aahed over the bike and trike. Then she had to make sure her neighbor Louis saw it, so rousted him. Soon after I pedaled to the San Leandro Marina to help MBW pack up.

After leaving Ellen's, we went around the corner to see her poker buddy Shirley. She wanted to see our bikes. And us, bless her. Another octogenarian, she was on her way to her Monday line dancing class.
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But then Monday was our anniversary, and I thought it might be nice to spend some time riding with my sweetie. She thought so too. And since we were right by the bay, and since the wind hadn't come up yet, now was a good time to do that ride. So we start poking along the marina, and MBW says to herself, where would I rather ride - along a manicured golf course, or in a park neither of us has ever been before? Dear reader, can you guess what she chose?

Something a little different from the usual marina fare.
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So we turned around and headed up to a park, Oyster Bay Regional Park, that's right on the water. Turns out it's former landfill, and has a great view of the approach to Oakland International Airport. But it had some nice trails and views. Great for off leash dog running too. We got a little lost trying to come back, so we were slower coming back to the car than I had hoped. Despite the new me, I was getting antsy about the time. It was 1 o'clock and I had a lot of ground to cover and lots of people to see. I was also pretty hungry. I was so antsy that I didn't want to eat, I just wanted to go. MBW argued against the wisdom of this, thinking rightly that low blood sugar was affecting my judgment. There was a chain restaurant at the marina, but I didn't want to take the time for a sit-down. But then we saw the banner for lunch buffet. Problem solved: in and out, no one gets hurt. And MBW decided this was a law for the tour: take what is offered. Turned out to be a good law to follow.

Sculpture at Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline in San Leandro. An old landfill that overlooks the approach to Oakland Airport.
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Eventually, finally, got out on the road. Of course the wind had come up by this time, and I was going the wrong way into it. But it wasn't as bad as yesterday. I was on a major surface artery near Oakland Airport, so traffic was a little heavy. I was keeping my eye out for a bike path that led most of the way to the airport, then dumped you onto a less-used road into Alameda. Before you get onto the bike lane on that less-used road, however, is a protected bike path that goes right along and beneath the airport runways. The path is protected by chain link fencing, so it felt like being in a cage. But because I was riding against traffic on that side of the road, I also felt oddly safe.

Yeah, I'm doin' hard time. Been cyclin' a long time. They try to cage me in but I ain't havin' none of it, I tell ya.
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Got out on the road eventually and made it to Marian's, where MBW arrived soon after me; we had a nice visit. Then it was time to get to the other half of Alameda. The city of Alameda is actually on two islands - Bay Farm Island, which has a residential area but also the Oakland Airport, and Alameda island, which is the main part of town. There's a drawbridge between them. Marian had told me something about staying to the right to get to the bike bridge, which I did, but I missed the turnoff and I pedaled blithely on. Soon I see a sign warning motorcyclists about a slippery grated surface and the bike lane disappeared. Uh oh. I see on my right a nice new bike bridge with lots of happy cyclists. How I suddenly wished I was one of them. Luckily the cars were patient with me and I was able to navigate the grate without too much slipping, then got out of the travel lanes.

Another poker buddy of Ellen's, Marian, trying out my bent.
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Hooked up with dear friend Marlene, who was suspiciously eager to leave work for a little while to meet us at a convenient location. Poor MBW was misled by the fact that Park Ave is parallel to Park St, the main drag in downtown Alameda. She was driving around for quite a while looking for our meetup spot. She arrived a bit exasperated, but we got her an iced latte and she settled down.

Getting some local knowledge from Marlene to plan the route from Alameda to Albany.
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Marlene left work early to meet us at Peet's in downtown Alameda. Big sacrifice. Thanks, Marlene.
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Visit over with Marlene, it was 4:30 and we wanted to be in Albany in 90 minutes. At my rate of speed and with headwinds, it would be close. So over the Park St Bridge into Oakland, to Berkeley, to Albany.

Oakland estuary from the Park St Bridge. Oakland is a world class port city. Took all the business away from San Francisco because they saw early that containers were the way to go.
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The bike lane on the Park St Bridge from Alameda to Oakland.
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I really enjoyed this part of the ride. It was cool to ride over the Oakland Estuary, which separates Alameda and Oakland and feeds out to the port of Oakland. Then along Oakland's Embarcadero to Jack London Square, through the produce market, and then out to Mandela Parkway. What a delightful road that is. There used to be a double-decker freeway running there, which cast a huge cold shadow and divided an already disadvantaged West Oakland. But when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit, the double-decker freeway pancaked. The neighbors managed to gather as many ladders as they could find and rescued everyone they could, at great risk to themselves. A shining hour for West Oakland. The freeway was demolished and now there is a lovely boulevard instead of a monstrosity; there's a great memorial to their heroism along the parkway too.

Another reason Oakland remains a world class port: these giant cranes that can handle all sorts of cargo. They were fabricated in China and floated across the Pacific. They waited until maximum low tide to bring them under the Bay Bridge, which they cleared by just a foot.
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The produce market near Jack London Square is busy most mornings, but not this afternoon. I imagine the saloon hasn't changed much since Jack London hung around these parts (although this particular bar was not his haunt).
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Rode along the Mandela Parkway in Oakland. It is a lovely boulevard that replaces the Cypress Structure of I-880. That section collapsed during the 1989 earthquake. It's a "depressed" neighborhood, but they all rose to occasion to rescue everyone they could trapped in the roadway. They strung together all the ladders they could find. This is a monument to the neighborhood and the 15 seconds that changed lives.
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Got through Oakland and into Emeryville, which is known mostly for malls and Pixar. Now I like it for its nice bike boulevard to Berkeley and beyond. The bike map failed me at this point, or maybe it was operator error due to pushing for time. We were running really late. I made the decision that time with our friends Denise & Kim was higher priority than riding every inch. So a couple of miles short of my goal, MBW picked me up and off we went.

No cupcakes, but our hosts were determined that we would not be wanting for calories for our tour. Mission accomplished.

Our hosts for tonight are good friends Denise & Kim.
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Read MBW's blog for her take on today.

Today's ride: 30 miles (48 km)
Total: 81 miles (130 km)

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