Nov 18, 2008

La Puta here I come: 1st San Fran

Lets start from somewhere towards the beginning. How about the moment when I'm sitting with my back to the wall and there is a large Flat Screen TV hovering above my head interrogating me as if it's the detective and the bright light at the same time. Its the Chicago Midway airport's way of keeping me entertained while I wait for the next flight to San Francisco. Chicago's daily pick lottery numbers are bubbling up in the number poppers. The first number drawn, and the last one I care about is the "Pick 3". Having just sat down and not yet being occupied with my normal airport activities I watch as each ball pops up, and when the last one is standing, the number "833" is king of the mountain. I look at my fight number. "833".

Really I felt like standing up and shouting. I'm a big fan of making a big deal out of relatively random coincidences. Maybe I'm just trying to add a little bit of meaning to my life. Maybe I'm a drama king. It's adventures in transferrance. From that point on so many good things happened.

Free upgrade to Mustang from the Mazda at the rental agency cause I joked with the lady at the desk. Ran into Mark Slate, one of the founders of WTB, who is my tire and saddle sponsor on the trails in China Park. Rode with fellows from Bike-Rx, and rode across the Golden Gate bridge twice. Saw a man with white Parrot. Managed to snag a window seat on a sold out flight to Costa Rica. While waiting for the bus I ran into an old friend in San Jose who I hadn't seen in five years and now lives in CR. She does massage and surfs in Jaco, so I got a pre-race massage and a little surfing in! Top ten finish in La Ruta. Special Massage treatment from opponent team's massage therapist.

From that point on I felt things were going to have to go well. My friend Lenora who recently moved to San Fran picked me up from the BART stop despite being tired and over-worked. It was my first visit to this city by the bay and I fully expected a parade of LSD victims to greet me with candy canes and bumper stickers on foreheads.
Instead, as I took the escalator out of the underground subway to the surface, my ride up was accompanied by the soundtrack of a traditional Mexican tune sung in the fine gravely voice of an elderly man playing an electric piano. The acoustics were perfectly tuned to his warm words which I couldn't understand but didn't need to, to appreciate. Since he was at the bottom of the escalator and it was a particularly long one, the escalator was the perfect DJ as it faded out the old man and faded in the city's sounds of the busy intersection of Mission and 24th street. Buses, cars, horns, voices in Spanish and English, kids running with TV remote controls.

As Lenora's friend described San Fran. "It's like preschool, but not." Absurdity and the surreal hang in the air in the preschool style where Count-Draculas and talking giant birds head butt a new endless array of social rules made up at the whim of underpaid full time baby sitters.

I digress.

I like San Francisco. Big hills, bridges and water from the Pacific. Culturally it's a diverse place and mentally it's nice to be in a large city with a palatable lack of edginess and paranoia.

My friends wedding was Saturday so Friday I had time to go for a bike ride over the Golden Gate. I felt like a fool when I couldn't figure out that the first bridge was the Bay Bridge, not the GG. After I got back on track I crossed that famous landmark, through the Perdido military base and made the jump across the water. The Golden Gate was cool, but what was really amazing were the size of the cables, each as fat as my wrist.

I had written down the addresses of IF dealers in the Bay Area and I was on my way to Bike-Rx in Mill Valley. When I stopped in I met one of the best IF dealers in the country. They were receptive to my dropping in on them like that and we planned a ride Sunday with a group on the local trails. After that I got some directions to the trails behind their shop and in the shadow of Mt. Tam.

On the trails I saw a man hiking with a white parrot on his should. Another good omen.

Saturday I went to the Car rental agency with my expired drivers license and note from the DMV saying it was okay. Event with the manager sitting next to her the counter gal accepted my documentation, and upgraded me to a fancy 2009 Mustang since they were all out of the cars I had originally booked. A car really can make you feel like a different person, and I quickly molded myself into a muscle head, rolling up my sleeves to show my guns and turned the radio up every time Def Leopard came on. Really I tried to lower myself down in the seat to be as inconspicuous as possible. Still the car was fun to drive with all the perfectly banked and curvaceous roads to Mendocino and my friend's wedding.

Eli's bride choose to have an outside wedding, in the wettest region of California, so while the guests were under umbrella's and the bride along with her maids were wearing stylish galoshes I watched one of my oldest friends wedded.


After a late night drive to San Fran, I got up and went to meet Scott, Chris, Grant and Jeff for a ride Sunday morning. They took me on some cool trail in China Park area. That again is Mt. Tam in the back. Mt. Tamapalis or the birthplace of mountain biking. Supposedly...
After spending the majority of the day riding and wondering if I was doing myself a disservice riding 9 hours in three days when I should be resting for the longest race of the year, I hung out with my friends' friends for a late brunch. When we got back to Lenora's place I checked my monday flight time and realized I had booked a 12:35am plane, which was technically Monday, but meant I had to get ready and go to the airport that night, not the next day... That was just my preparation for Costa Rican logistics...

Tomorrow I get to the race.

5 comments:

CJA said...

Great job on your 10th place finish!

A-ron said...

Harlan, how does one come to take pictures like yours? No one else comes close!

mexican assassin said...

Did you have time to chat up Heras or did you enjoyed locking him up in the pain cave?....Great job man.

cableguy46 said...

AHHH China Camp...Lots of climbing...did you guys include Tams in the loop? Thats an area I discovered while I was out there last spring, it was pretty dry and dusty when I was there...awesome journey Harlan...keep em coming.

Ed

Metro said...

Nice! Killing it at La Ruta. Congrats on your top 10 finish dude.

Peace,
Metro