20 stops in 60 miles

Ridiculous to fuss over being “stuck in town” for the weekend when “stuck in town” can look like this.

McEwen Road the easy way. (Downhill.)

OK, possibly I let Instagram up the contrast a little bit.

It just takes a little legwork, I guess—something that this weekend I mitigated with stops for:

  1. Two emus!
  2. An interesting gate with initials on it, a very green field.
  3. Elementary-school artwork. (Quotable: “If Thing 1 and Thing 2 came to my house, I would … KICK THEM OUT.”)
  4. Mount Wanda, part of the John Muir National Historic Site. “My life these days is like the life of a glacier: one eternal grind,” he said. “Soon I’ll throw down my pen and take up my heels and go mountaineering once more.”
  5. A list of wildflowers. These include “prostrate pigweed” (????) and poison oak.
  6. Killer view of Mt. Diablo and the waterfront. Related, discussion with another rider about the likelihood of being shot by the neighboring rancher should I venture onto singletrack in order to improve it slightly.
  7. Railroad tracks. I sat and waited on a little signal tower but nothing came by; I would have been deafened or arrested if it had so this was probably just as well.
  8. Part of a bathtub on the side of the road, very Marcel Duchamp.
  9. A large puddle that at one angle looked like the radiant, crystalline reflection of the glory of heaven and at another like, you know, mud.
  10. Flowers.
  11. Cows.
  12. A house with ceramic gargoyles along the fence. And a rocket ship!
  13. The Crockett Veteran’s Memorial. Did you know this was built by C&H Sugar? Well, now you do.
  14. The Valona Deli, for coffee and the best gingersnap cookie I’ve ever had. The bathroom is down a narrow, sloping hallway into the basement. Below it is a boarded-up tunnel that I choose to assume was once used for deliveries to rum-runners and/or pirates.
  15. Vista point for the Carquinez Bridge, a.k.a. the Al Zampa Memorial Bridge. Al Zampa was an ironworker who survived a fall off the Golden Gate Bridge and founded the Halfway to Hell Club. FYI.
  16. The Conoco Philips and Air Liquide refineries—lest anyone think it’s nothing but poppies and pastorals up here.
  17. Dead-end trail to a picnic table overlooking the shoreline in Rodeo. “WEED,” declared the graffiti.
  18. Freight train passing underneath San Pablo Dam Road. I played out some gutterpunk scenarios in my head and left them there.
  19. A gas station, to consult a map. It turns out that Google’s ostensibly strange suggestion to deviate from the supposed 1-80 “Bikeway” is because some portions of it may actually get you killed.
  20. Burrito.

In the past I’ve proclaimed an aversion to bike touring on the grounds that it’s “too slow.” But it appears my cycling interests have drifted away from getting up at five in the morning to ride intervals in the rain and toward reading placards and eating pastries. So it might be time to reconsider. Where to?

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