I was the one that suggested the bike ride with two of my adult children. They don’t spend much time outdoors or get enough exercise. They like to ride the Iron Horse trail. It is an easy, shady railroad right of way that connects towns up and down the I- 680 corridor in the San Ramon Valley.
I knew I had them when I suggested lunch at Brass Bear Deli. Yes, the sandwiches are expensive, but they are handmade while you wait, with the best of ingredients. My kids swear the mayonnaise is like no other.
We pumped up the tires, found the helmets, and hopped on. I realized my shorter child had been the last one to ride my bike, which ironically, is only three months younger than she is. Her dad bought it for me the year she was born.
The bike is old but still functional with hybrid tires. My son rode a road bike, and my youngest rode a beach cruiser. We didn’t wear bike clothes, just blue jeans and tennis shoes. It was, after all, an easy stroll down to Alamo.
The kids left me in the dust, but I knew they’d be waiting at Brass Bear, in line for our order. Mine is always the same, turkey club on whole wheat with Swiss instead of cheddar, pickle, tomato, lettuce and mayo.
As I dismounted at the shopping plaza, my body groaned in protest. You haven’t done this in a year.
I blame the pandemic. I did try to ride at Thanksgiving, but the beach cruiser needed two new tire tubes, so I sent the kids on the bike ride while I dropped off the bike to be repaired in my little town. Then I drove up the freeway to meet them for lunch.
I sat in the sun while the kids waited in line, my credit card in hand. It felt so good to sit in the 75-degree weather with a light breeze. I rolled up my pant legs for a little bit of vitamin D. Then I saw the new melanoma scar and moved my side of the table into the shade.
After lunch, I gave the kids permission to leave me behind. I’d already arranged with my handywoman to be on call to come and get me. The ride home is all uphill, and I am not in tip-top shape after sitting around most of 2020 (except for dog walks, Zumba and gardening). I hadn’t been on a group hike for a year. Even longer for bike rides.
I stopped at the new park in Alamo to use the public bathroom, then made it to my little downtown. I called the handywoman, but she didn’t pick up. I left a message and kept riding. By now, my knees were screaming at me. When I’d put the bike seat back at my height, I didn’t get it high enough to fully straighten my leg.
Then my phone rang. The handy woman had found her phone. We decided to meet at Wells Fargo since she knew where that was (she lives in Hayward).
I left the trail and rode two city blocks to get to the bank, where I waited in the sun, and then moved to the shade. I saw many red pick-up trucks go by before hers turned into the parking lot.
“You saved me,” I said.