Today Was A Great Day For A (Recovered) Bike Ride

Dear Cycling Community,

So I’m still in shock about the return of my mountain bike this morning. I really can’t believe that it came back – with the help of Jillian Betterly and many others – and am truly thankful for the kindness and amazing superpowers of all of you.

The Bearded One and I felt that the best way to celebrate its happy return was to go on a long ride in Marin. We headed from Mill Valley up Railroad Grade to East Peak, hooked left onto Ridgecrest, then dropped down Lagunitas Trail which eventually led back up to Ridgecrest. From there we rode part of the Seven Sisters to the Bolinas-Fairfax Ridge Trail, then took Jewel Trail to Samuel P. Taylor. We took a pit stop at a great little Indian restaurant in Lagunitas (and our appetizers were the blackberries that we foraged along the way, there’s a million bushes in bloom right now!), then continued onwards back to Mill Valley via Sir Francis Drake and beyond.

49 miles with 4091 ft. of climbing and worth every minute. Thank you again for making this and other rides possible!

My Stolen Bike Was Found With Your Help, Thank You My Fellow Cyclists!

Dear Cycling Community,

Thank you so much for helping to find my stolen Ibis. I really, really can’t thank you enough. My husband and I have been having a tough time lately, and when I woke up Thursday morning and realized my bike was gone – I was pretty devastated.

But I emailed every cycling group I knew, posted my story Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Google+ and cycling forums, put up flyers and just hoped that it might come back to me. A part of me was resigned to my fate and had started the insurance claims process, especially after we came back empty-handed from making the rounds at two flea markets yesterday morning. But I received so many messages of support – I wish I could thank you all in person – that I wasn’t yet ready to consider it gone forever.

So when Shawn got the call this morning that the Ibis had been found by Jillian Betterly, I was in serious shock. It only took four days to recover my bike. I’m lucky that the thieves were greedy enough to try and sell the bike locally. I’m also lucky that you helped spread the word about my bike so that it seemed like everyone in California and beyond knew about its disappearance. And I’m especially grateful that Jillian, who was also looking for a bike that had been stolen from her property*, was at Laney College this morning with a friend. Once she spotted the guy, she followed him quietly so as not to spook him. When he was ready to drop it off at a vendor, she showed him a photo of the Ibis and said it was stolen, then took it. I picked it up this morning from the downtown PUBLIC Bikes store in Oakland where she works.

So thank you, my cycling community. I’ve already cried many tears of happiness this morning and really owe the return of my bike to you. I’m truly touched by everyone who helped my bike find its way home.

If you can do me one more favor, please share this story. Over the past few days, I heard many sad stories of bikes being lost, seemingly forever, and then suddenly – they were found through the diligence of our community. We won this round, and if you’ve ever had a bike stolen – or ever have the misfortune of having one stolen – you may get it back because the cycling community is truly awesome. And we are united in our ongoing battle against the villainy of bike thievery. So thank you again – I will go on a bike ride today in your honor!

****I asked Jillian if she needed help finding her stolen bike, but she declined – it’s a long story.

The Gray Horse Cowboy Will Ride Again

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When I first met my father-in-law, Jay Hatfield, shortly after I started dating my future husband, I thought, “Well, now I know what Shawn will look like in 20 years’ time.”

Tall and lanky, both men tower over the average citizen. They also have the same ice-blue eyes that have earned the nickname “Blue Steel” due to their cool, piercing quality. Their default mode is intimidation, and one look from them can silence anyone that crosses their path and pisses them off (I’ve seen them in action, and I can guarantee that they came in handy to their predecessors during the Hatfield-McCoy feuding days).

And they’re both cowboys, except Shawn, The Bearded One, wears a thick salt-and-pepper beard and rides bikes while Jay sports a gray mustache and rides horses. Jay’s standard uniform — whether he’s relaxing or when he’s working as a farrier — is a button-down shirt with blue jeans and a leather belt and boots. He’s a close cousin to one of his cinematic heroes, John Wayne. Jay chooses his words carefully, won’t bullshit you and always says how he feels even if he might offend you. Sometimes his sense of humor is so dark and dry I can’t always tell when he’s trying to be funny (and often have the same problem with Shawn), but chances are, most of the time he’s cracking a joke.

I was reminded of his sardonic sense of humor when I recently visited Jay in the hospital. He was recovering from a tracheotomy, which he needed in order to breathe more freely. Diagnosed with lung cancer several weeks earlier, complications from the illness began to impact his airways. As we sat down at his bedside, Jay communicated with us by jotting things down and gesturing with hand signals. I joked that he’d be a master of Charades in no time, and he promptly flipped me the bird as a response with a wry half-smile.

But it’s sad and strange to see our cowboy at rest for the first time, lying in a hospital bed surrounded by machines and sterile beige walls. Jay was always beyond busy, a die-hard workaholic, up at dawn so that he could attend to his animals or other people’s animals or to look for structural engineering flaws with his other day job as a building inspector. It was only at the end of a long day that he’d kick back in his favorite easy chair in front of the TV to watch shows with his wife Sue.

When I think of Jay, I think of the pan of cheesy scalloped potatoes that he bakes for us every holiday. And of the super deluxe Hickory Farms gift baskets that he’d give us every Christmas because he thought we loved them even though we secretly hated them but could never say so. I think of his love for Philly Cheese steak burritos from a local Mexican restaurant and the Sunday breakfasts we’d share at the Moss Landing Cafe. I think of him cursing at his laptop, ready to hurl it out the window, because he hated computers but loved the Internet. I think of him liking my posts on Facebook, then joining Google+ when I migrated over so he could follow my stories. I think of how he used to be the impatient driver in the truck fuming at cyclists on the back country roads near where he lived until his son started biking in earnest. Then I think of him coming to watch us race at the Hellyer Velodrome after work, proud as can be. It’s hard for me to think of Jay in any other way than as the kind man who welcomed me into his family when Shawn and I married three years ago. The man in the hospital bed is just a placeholder for the cowboy I know.

In every life, there are regrets. Maybe he regrets the cigarettes he smoked, maybe there are other things he wished were different. But he had to live life on his own terms, with no looking back. This much I know. He’s stubborn, a trait that I’ve been accused of myself in the past (especially by own father). And I believe his stubbornness will get him through his nausea from the chemotherapy and radiation treatments and the frustration of being bedridden and the depression from being sick and worrying about his family and all of the other roadblocks his cancer is throwing at him.

We love you, Jay. Tell that cancer to kiss your ass so we can go get some real cheeseburgers and milkshakes, like you’ve been asking for.

If you’d like to help Jay and Sue Hatfield with their medical expenses, you can contribute here.

2012 Ride-On Portola Redwoods State Park Camping Trip

The Ride-On! annual summer camping trip headed to Portola Redwoods State Park this year. 12 of us rode together, and we also had a SAG wagon as one of our friends was injured and couldn’t ride.

Day 1: SF – Portola Redwoods SP (51.50 miles / 5708 ft)

Mission via Skyline/Canada Road/Old La Honda/Skyline/Alpine

Day 2: Portola Redwoods SP to Millbrae BART: (59.23 miles / 7617 ft.)

On the way back, several of us opted to take another hilly route on the way home via Old Haul Rode/Pescadero/Stage Road/Tunitas Creek/Woodside.

From Woodside, May, Chava and I continued on Canada Road/Skyline/Millbrae BART. May was a champ and rode all the way back to SF!