Thursday, March 12, 2009

the 16th hour

Dempsey and I had been talking about it for a little while.  I know I had been thinking about it for years, half of my life probably.  Get up and go.  Doesn't matter how.  Doesn't matter where.  Just go.  Well, this past Friday, 6.March.2009, we decided to test out how well this would work.  Dempsey worked on Friday night until around 11.  When he got home I was a little drunk and nicely settled into the couch.  We were polar opposites.  I was praying he would say 'nah, forget it.' but he was amped, I could tell.  Reluctantly I stood up, trying to get my juices flowing.  It worked.  I said 'to hell with it.  let's do it.'  I mean, it'd be a shame to have packed and then have to unpack all this gear for nothing.  
We hopped on our bikes at around 12:30 a.m. and headed for the Presidio only stopping to grab a couple more bottles of wine at a corner store.  While coasting down through the Presidio we half joked that they wouldn't let pedestrians and bicyclists across after dark.  Sure enough, when we got there the gate was closed.  There were plenty of signs to read at the gate when all of a sudden Dempsey said 'what's that one say, behind you?'  I swear to you, that sign had a halo around it as we both mouthed the words "Bicyclists press button to open gate."  And there, below the sign, was beautiful, bright red button.  It almost looked too cartoonish to be real.  After pressing it, we could hear the motor gearing up, and then came the sound.  It was as if there had been a major breach at Area 51 or a prison break.  WAH UHH!  WAH UHH!  WAH UHH!  Dempsey and I were grinning ear to ear as we rode, alone, across the Golden Gate Bridge.  
Dempsey had more of an idea of where we were going than I did and led the way through Sausalito and up towards Mt. Tamalpais and Stinson Beach.  Now, mind you, I'm doing this whole thing on a fixed gear so I'm sweating bullets.  I am proud to say that I was not dragging ass.  I was leading a lot of the up hill.  We get to the fork where left takes you to Stinson and right takes you to Muir Wood/Beach.  We head left and cruise down hill a couple of miles.  Dempsey thinks he recognizes a trail head.  
We pick up our bikes and start walking.  Only a few meters in the trail starts to turn to muck and mud.  We had been riding for about an hour and a half so it's probably a little after 2 a.m. and it's freezing.  We've both got snot in our mustaches and numb fingers and ears and we are trudging through the much.  Our shoes and socks are soaked.  We're slipping and sliding and both praying that there's no poison oak around.  
We eventually find a huge boulder over looking an amazing canyon lit by a huge moon.  We decided this was probably the best spot we'd find to open one of those bottles of wine.  We scramble up, pop the cork and so begins the male bonding.  We talked about girls, about life, the stars, education, money, fighting, adventures.  All the essential man stuff and it was great.  We also did a whole lot of listening, observing, and being still.  Eventually we started to hear a bunch of howling a ways off in the distance.  We thought that was pretty cool until about a half an hour later we hear more howling.  This time it was only about 30 meters or so away.  We could even see the silhouette of one of the coyotes on a hill not too far off.  Then the irrationality started to settle in.  Coyotes don't eat humans, do they?  Anyway, we started talking and coughing and laughing really loud to try to scare them away, not sure if it worked, but we were drunk enough to have our confidence back so....
After we finished the bottle of wine and had frozen enough, it's probably around 4 a.m. or so by now, we decided it was time to look for a place to sleep.  We hike about a mile in one direction and end up thinking that where we were was probably the best spot we'd find that night.  We made a make shift camp tucked into the shrubs by laying out a thin layer between us and the dirt and climbed into our sleeping bags.  I lost consciousness faster than I thought.  
In the morning I tossed and turned as dew dripped from my bag onto my face.  My toes and ears were numb again and I couldn't breath through my nose.  Funny enough, I was happy to be there.  I looked over at Dempsey sleeping sound and lay back down as the sun had not yet risen.  I slept for maybe another half hour and then woke with a start.  As I sat up I heard Dempsey's whistle and looked over.  He was perched on the rock that we had been sitting earlier that night.  I crawled out of my bag, reluctantly tugged on my soaked shoes and climbed up there with him.  We sat for a while, looking over the canyon and bits of the ocean where the horizon dipped down far enough.  
As we were packing up a few joggers passed us by.  We wished them a good morning much to their confusion.  We got a couple of Kashi bars in us and headed along the path the same way that we'd been going the night before.  We walked for two or three miles and ended up at Muir Beach.  It was a beautiful morning.  The sun bright and warmed the sand and breeze perfectly.  We built a little sitting area out of some drift logs and again, fell so fast asleep.  We slept for probably an hour and a half and when we woke and looked at the clock it was still before noon.  Perfect.
It felt like the rest of the world was finally waking up as we hopped back on our bikes and hit the pavement.  It was a pretty decent climb up from the coast and back inland.  Along the way I used a lycra clad cyclist far ahead as my motivation.  "Catch the bitch.  Catch the bitch.  Catch the bitch."  repeated in my head.   That is until I finally got close enough to catch her, then the mantra was "Pass the bitch.  Pass the bitch.  Pass the bitch."  And that I did.  I flew up the last leg where almost collapsed.  
On the ride down I kept my pace, not too fast, not too slow.  Skidding about every hundred meters to slow my momentum.  Dempsey flew by and out of sight.  About five minutes after he disappeared I came around a bend to find him in the middle of the street waving his arms like a mad man.  I skid for about 20 yards and stop just past him.  He tells me that his rear wheel has exploded and that he barely escaped...well, he's still standing, so we'll leave it at that.  We start walking  what was turning out to be a long and ridiculous walk when I started sticking out my thumb.  Not three minutes later a white pick up truck pulls up.  We toss our bikes and gear in the back and climb in.  After some small talk we arrange for him to drop us near the Larkspur ferry, and by near I mean at the front door of the Marin Brewing Company.  This couldn't have worked out better.
We sit down in the sun and order some red beer and begin to get drunk.  We end up ordering lunch and lots of beers.  By the time we leave I am pleasantly stuffed and even more pleasantly drunk.  We walk our bikes over to the ferry terminal only to find that they are closed until 3:40, it's now only 2:30.  Luckily we had bought some very high percentage 22 oz. beers from MBC.  We sat on some sort of raised walkway and talked trash, laughed and basked in a cocktail of sunlight, drunkenness, and glory.  We also played a game with a tennis ball we found where you had to nock over the other persons beer from about 2o feet.  If you hit it the other person had to catch it then chug.  I finished my beer pretty fast.
Once the ferry terminal was open we hopped on the boat, popped another bottle of wine and started up a conversation with a couple of gentlemen behind us.  We talked about prison, city living (both NYC and SF) and other nonsense I can't remember.  
Back on Market street Dempsey and I were ear to ear grins.  We simply could not believe how amazing the past 16 hours had been.  


Anonymous said...

What an adventure. I'm so glad Ryan wasn't hurt when his tire blew out....dangerous. You guys are wearing helmets, yes! You are amazing with all your advantures. Love, Mombo

everydaycaitlin said...

reading of your adventures makes me feel closer to sf.

Sophia Brennen said...

Firstly, where is this bike gate??? I love riding into Marin....and secondly, reading your blog makes me hungry. I'm going for lunch now...