E-mail #5, sent 6/29/98:

I rode the Somec Saturday morning. My brother Pat and I went over the Berkeley hills into Moraga and Orinda and the bicycle performed magnificently. Index shifting, having the shifters up on the brake levers and the more powerful brakes are all a joy. Worried about stressing my left knee (which I blew out the week before) I was reticent to ride. However, very carefully grinding up Old Tunnel Road (my most familiar approach to the hills) created no strain. We went over the other side which involved another long climb. Got back to Berkeley with no pain. 33 miles.

Encouraged by this I did another ride on Sunday. Pat and I drove over to Fairfax in Marin where we met my other brother, Pat’s twin, Michael, and 68-year-old friend named Ray. Our route took us up Mt. Tamalpias and then down to the coast where we rode up Highway One to Bolinas for lunch. We went from Rolling hills of Live Oak to forested hillsides of Redwood, moss and ferns at the top of which fog was condensing to fall like rain, then over a ridge into dry wild oats and thistles leading up to the scrub covered peak. At the top of Mt. Tam I’d felt twinges so we discussed our route options and decided to ride north towards Point Reyes on a loop that would take us back to Fairfax, avoiding any further serious climbing. Near Pt. Reyes we split up with Michael and Ray who went for an additional 25 miles, while Pat and I headed back the 15 miles to the car. The first rise we climbed a woman cyclist passed us—big full bodied athletic woman, spinning away. I sped up and got on her wheel. Pat in turn came up and went to the front and proceeded to pace along at a good clip. This sort of thing happens often on the road: one rider sheltering others. Pat was feeling strong and the woman was on his wheel, I on hers, able to hang on in the slip stream. We rode like this several miles rolling over rises. I was very aware of my knee and felt the need not to press. Going over one rise I needed a bit of ooomff to stay with them and didn't have it. I was then off the train and watched the two of them quickly disappear. Later I saw the woman taking a break at the side of the road. Still later as I limped up a climb the woman came along. Pat had said something to her about my knee and she commiserated with me and I rode the last miles on her wheel back into Fairfax. Said goodbye at an intersection. Someone I won't see again, and didn't get her name, but a kindred spirit. What can you do but wave goodbye?