Monday, 27 October 2014

Finally! I'm riding a bike! (or Bike Trouble Strikes again)

Is this a statue of Gandhi or of Ben Kingsley?

9 am. I take a break from work.  My hotel is close to Embarcadero, i.e. the ocean, and that is where I go.  There are enough pictures of SF Bay in this blog already, so here are some different ones.
I was just trying to take a pic of my shadow, but his colours work with that ;-)

11 am. Work is pretty much done, except a few minor corrections, so I feel justified to walking to Blazing Saddles bicycle rentals to pick up my online-reserved Stromer.  All this hurling and eating and concert-going and walking was nice, but I really want to ride a bicycle now !!!
close to Coit tower

I have my bicycle. Alan is busy at lunch time and I am slightly hungry. What to do?  My first instinct is to satisfy my craving and to eat Stinky Fish and Chicken Fried Rice at New Sun Hong Kong Restaurant again and to finish my work there. But I'm on a bike now. And Crissy Field and The Bridge are beckoning!  So work will have to wait a little longer.  I pass Coit Tower and find Crissy Field. It's nice here ;-)  And The Bridge is even closer now. Ah well, it's not even 1 pm and they probably don't even expect the translation yet. Bridge Bridge Bridge Bridge !!!

There is a job for me when I retire

And could this shiny black bird be the one I rescued this morning from the Ferry Building?  When I opened the glass doors to  enter the shopping concourse, I right away noticed this little black figure sitting on the floor about 10 feet from the doors and ogling the incoming crowd.  So when I asked him whether he was trying to get out, and stepped out of the entrance while holding the glass door open, he looked at the door, back at me (trustworthy or bird eater?), took one hop towards the door and then took off into freedom.

I'm in Sausalito now. I really should finish my work, which means that I should find a restaurant to eat and work. There are no Asian restaurants here.  I end up in a little Seafood restaurant & market.  I have a Bay shrimp and crab salad and 2 glasses of wine. It's all fresh and tastes OK. But the bill is astonishingly high.  I remember how many courses of UNBELIEVABLY tasty food that kind of money did get me on my bike tour of Brittany in the summer of 2013.  I also think about how much food that kind of money would get the kids dressed in Surplus Army clothes hunkering with a cardboard sign on a sidewalk last night, expecting to spend the night outside, and petting their dog who was wearing one of those Vet-don't-bite-yourself-Cone-plastic-hoods and their cat, who was on a leash and was soooo cute.  And I remember that I gave them a dollar and not the 5 dollar bill I had in my wallet and I remember Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell on Saturday night singing Hunger Strike and I remember the lyrics to that song, and I feel like an an inconsiderate arsehole, like the worst kind of looser. And I rescue myself out of that despair with the thought that at least I still know WHATI did wrong and at least I still know THATI did something wrong and that I will do better next time.

California smoking laws: I have to smoke on the sidewalk

The passage that the bridge gets its name from
Instant Karma strikes.  Halfway up the hill, already past Fort Baker, but still below the level of the Golden Gate Roadway, the battery of the bike switches off.  A short panic moment later I have switched it on again and the bike works again.  A bit further up the hill it switches off again. Again the instant reboot seems to work.  I'm climbing higher and higher now and my destination, a view point far above the Golden Gate Bridge, is soooo close that I almost feel I can 'transport' there and the battery dies again. This time pushing the re-boot button does NOTHING. And NOTHING again. And again. And ..... AGAIN.

is it the Monolith from 2001 A Space Odyssey?  Or is it my lithium battery cooling down in the breeze?
You guessed right. It was my battery. This is the Monolith. They look just the same, don't they?

The worst thing: I can see my destination (to the left out of the frame)
 I remember that the young lady in the bike rental store gave me their brochure "so that you have our phone number".  I call, get connected to their 'tech support' and am told to let the battery cool for 15 minutes.  Makes sense, but unfortunately the battery does not reward me with re-ignition, so I call tech support again.  I get the bad news/good news thing.  I ask for the bad news first.  There are no rescue teams operating north of Golden Gate Bridge.  BUT, the road to the Sausalito - San Fran Ferry is all downhill and there is another bike rental branch very close to the San Fran terminal.  I'm not sure that is good news, since that had been my contingency plan in case of trouble all along, but at least someone confirms for me that what I was thinking is indeed the sensible thing to do.  I start rolling downhill. 

I notice a strange thing.  Even though I don't have a battery to power my speed anymore, I still pass everyone. Recklessness? Or German Racer genes?
Sausalito views

I arrive back in Sausalito around 3 pm.   The first ferry does not allow the electric bicycle on board. Thanks Golden Gate Ferries!  Fortunately, the Black & Blue (or was that Gold and Blue?) Line takes me on board.  A gorgeous seagull is along for the ride.

Bit scuffed up around the edges, but still gorgeous ;-)
The scenery is breath taking, seemingly even more for me because I have discovered that they serve alcohol on this ferry ;-)

Bar & Bike on Boat

.No scenery is quite the same after a Gin & Tonic ;-)  But try ordering a Gin & Tonic on a Canadian ferry and you'd probably get a look similar to what child molesters are probably used to !

I had already noticed in Sausalito, that the battery electronics seemed to have recovered.  So when I get off the ferry, I switch the bike back on and ride through the horrible Fisherman's Wharf area towards another branch of the bike place.  100 meters riding through gradient-free terrain is enough for the battery to switch off again. Definitely NOT an overheating issue !

 I make it to the Blazing Saddles location and at first I think I got an idiot to look after me. With a university degree in physics and a high development of my logical sense, I consider myself semi-qualified to engage in preliminary trouble-shooting.  Maybe he considers me just another idiot bike renter, but after I say  "Are you actually listening to what I'm saying?" and me mentioning that I ride a Haibike in Vancouver, Matt's demeanour changes completely.  He picks out a Version 2 Stromer from their stable (it even has a fabulous saddle) and tells me to ride it around the block to see whether I like it. He offers me a rubber (blush) for my pants so they don't get caught in the front gears.
Good outfit. 
 Then he tells me that my red pants look good on me (blush). All this attention gets me woozy and I hop on the bike and leave after thanking him.   I ride for three blocks, stop at a light, and Matt appears on an electric bike next to me.  He forgot to give me the battery compartment key. Quick thinking ;-)

The rush continues. Alan invited me for dinner in Lafayette. I am back at the hotel at 5 pm, which leaves enough time for a glass of Chardonnay and a shower before I leave the hotel on foot and head for Bart, this time in much better shape than last time.

Alan picks me up in Lafayette and we drive to Concord to get take-out (people don't shy away from distances here).  When the table is set I take these pictures and am still wondering whether I'm just a great photographer or whether Jocelyn's smile would dominate any picture.

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