There’s a beauty in winter and in its decay. In the vivid shape of yellow leaves, that surf tides of rainwater. In the trees stripped bare, naked against the freezing onslaught. In the frosted glaze of colourless pavements. But when the sun pierced the mist today, I heard the faint chords of ‘Going to California’ and visions of the Big Sur.
I’ve been to California. Just the once. 21 years old and greener than my cycling jersey. We trod the tourist trail in San Francisco. Fisherman’s Wharf. Golden Gate Park. Union Square. Rode Cable cars over the lumps and bumps. A Silent and refined way to travel. It was nice. It was fine. Monterey was pretty good too. Nice Chowder. I didn’t meet Clint Eastwood in Carmel, but I did ride a skim board. On an empty beach. surf gently lapping against million dollar real estate. But the trip only really came to life when we headed out of the city toward Marin County. Where laid back cruisers forged a new cycling discipline and the sun bathed hills swamped in pine. For me, this is where my love of cycling started. You could just feel it. The hills drew you toward them. Called out. Reached. It was an unrequited love. I didn’t have access to a mountain bike and I’d barely mountain biked. But this feeling was never to leave and I can thank the Californian hills for blessing me with it. It got my backside on a bike back in Blighty and reminiscing keeps me coming back.
Going to California. Every time I ride.
Top image: Penarth pier.