Cloverdale - Oakland, CA
Part 2 – Day 8
July 7th, 2012
Cloverdale – Oakland, CA: 90 miles
There’s something about waking to the call of a rooster that makes me feel at home. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I always wanted to. When I was in high school I spent nearly every weekend at my best friend’s farm in Louisa, just east of Charlottesville. They had a herd of angus cattle, a pot-belly pig named Rosie we liked to wrestle, a tough-ass blue heeler not to mess with, horses to ride, and of course chickens.
I remember the sound of their rooster every morning. I remember the smell of leather and wood. I remember the popping of the fire heating that old farmhouse. We would make a bed on the floor next to it when it was too cold to sleep upstairs.
I remember the creaky steps that made it challenging to sneak out at night and ride horses in the moonlight. We’d gallop bareback wearing ponchos through fields and trails, giggling cold breath from our smiles.
Maybe this is why I feel so at home on Billy’s farm. I hear the rooster and it calls me back to those memories.
We made breakfast with some fresh farm eggs, ripe avocado, and crispy bacon. It was hot outside and we sat on the steps of the front porch bathing in the sun while eating. It was going to be a nice ride to San Francisco.
I took my time before leaving. It was only 90 miles to my friend Lena’s relative’s house in Oakland where I would be staying for the next six weeks while working at the San Francisco Zoo. The farm had me hooked and Billy too. I was not in a hurry and for once felt free of angst.
We walked down to the goat and llama pasture, the goats eager for a pet but the llamas standoffish. We wandered to the river and got our feet wet in the cold but refreshing water while spotting osprey and hawks. As we headed back to the house all I could think was, “I don’t want to leave.”
I packed the bike up slowly and when it finally came time for me to depart I hugged Billy and said, “I think it’s going to be a great summer.” He agreed with a smile and kiss.
The ride to Oakland was warm and easy. I kept my vents open and wore just a tank top and biker shorts under my gear.
I was a little nervous about riding into the big city however. I had heard about “The Maze” between Oakland and San Francisco where every road meets and traffic piles up. Missing your exit can be easy. I thoroughly wrote my directions down with a sharpie on paper displayed on my tank bag; however I found it difficult at times to look down for fear of all the other cars around.
I slowly rolled through traffic baking in the sun with the lack of wind. Occasionally another motorcycle would go whizzing by with no effort between the lanes. I watched them with envy, wishing I had that confidence, not to mention the breeze.
Splitting lanes is illegal on the east coast and rarely seen or done. You’d probably get killed if you tried because the cars aren’t used to it. I was amazed to see how the drivers in California make room for riders when they see them coming. Not only are they watching out for them, but they make room! That’s a level of respect I had never seen on the road for bikers.
Although the thought of splitting lanes makes my butt clench, man was it tempting. I decided to refrain from such a skill I knew I had no experience with but was determined to learn and practice in the next six weeks.
I finally rolled into Oakland and met Lena. We went to the grocery store to stock up for the week and had dinner at a nice vegan restaurant. It’s good to see an old friend from back east and remind me of my roots. Even though I’m happy to be staying with her rent free, it looks like my commute to the Zoo is going to be really far. I may have to figure something else out.
We’ll check out the Bart and bus transportation tomorrow. I don’t think I’m ready to split lanes and ride the bike through San Francisco traffic just yet. Riding through The Maze once was enough for me. I know, I’m a wuss.
I did call Billy though.
“Would you come teach me to split lanes?” (big grin)
“See you next weekend,” he said.
May the road rise up to meet you
And wind be always at your back