Easter Sunday affords one of the most unique rides in the bay area. This ride started in the mid-1980s by a couple of hard-core vintage motorcycle riders and some good friends within the California State Parks. What is it? It’s the annual sunrise ride to the summit parking lot of Mount Tamalpais. There’s an optional hike to the actual summit as well. Most of the riders stick to the parking lot. A couple of us make the mile or so trek to the top.
Some years it’s freezing cold. Some years it’s raining. And yet other years Karl the fog cloaks the area. This year we had none of that. It was going to be a relatively warm morning (47°) with no rain in sight. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride to the summit with a wonderful cross-section of the motorcycling community. I’ve not been on my bike a lot the past two years and I want to change that. A few years before that I found myself heavily involved with Homoto, a great organization for gay riders, but I’m also looking to get back into the larger fold of riders. No better time to get back on the saddle!
In some ways, this event kicks off the riding season for me here in the Bay Area. Of course, we ride all year. It never really gets that cold here. Bikes rarely get winterized as its common for warm January or February days in the 70s during the work week to taunt the fair weather rider. Because Easter always happens after the first day of spring, I’ve always considered it the official memo that heated gear will no longer be required soon.
I’ve moved since I’ve last done this ride. Rather than a long slog up Interstate 280 hugging the hills of the Peninsula or skimming along next to the bay on 101, the East Bay requires lots of road changes through varied terrain. One thing is for sure though: most motorcyclists don’t get up at 4 AM without reason. Every freeway change brought a new motorcyclist across my path and we traveled together for a 5:15 AM arrival at Tam Junction.
The North Bay is filled with tight, winding roads. At this hour in the morning, it was dark. The full moon helped but the deep fog on the backside of Mount Tamalpais made it more challenging to navigate roads I did not know super well. The funny thing was after climbing through the fog, it got crazy warm. It felt definitely above 60°.
The climb to the top of the mountain is always fun in motorcycle gear with a thermos full of tea in tow. I decided to leave my SLR camera at home. The iPhone camera has gotten significantly better over the years and it’s just easier to travel with. Yes, I’m getting a bit lazier in my old age. 🙂 The sunrise was glorious. The simplicity and elegance of a new day never gets old. I’ve been experimenting with various technologies for capturing a panorama on the iPhone. This sunrise made for a great testing ground:
I was traveling alone this year so I had plenty of time to talk with others and soak in the subtle changes of the morning. Every time I think I’m done with the sunrise or sunset the sky taunts me with new colors and beauty. As the morning rolled on the city perked up in the background.
The back side of the mountain was a lovely ride down. The remaining chill in the morning was gone and there was nobody around since I was the last one who left the parking lot!
Conzulman Road Is one of my favorite, short stretches of pavement in the area. It’s the most amazing road – like crazy amazing road that nobody knows about. It’s the ribbon of asphalt that flanks the Marin Headlands right in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sure, it affords amazing views like this:
But that’s not the most amazing part. You’ve got to crest Hawk Hill and head down the backside towards the Pacific Ocean. It’s a single lane road with the smoothest asphalt I know of here that has an outstanding panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean. You literally feel a part of the scene because the views are so intense. Every motorcycle rider should do this road at least once. take it slow and enjoy the ride up and the ride down.
I’m also reminded this time of year of my religious upbringing. There’s a part of me that connects with the key tenets of Christianity: salvation, grace, love, faith – but in particular grace. Grace is one of the key tenets unique to Christianity. Grace in many ways is the freedom to grow, to change, to be the impact on the world that you were meant to be. There is a refined, delicate nature to the freedom of grace both to the giver and the recipient.
I also reflected on the challenges of American evangelicalism reaching a postmodern world. Church attendance is declining. More Americans see themselves as spiritual and not necessarily tied to a more conventional practice of faith. Shortly after I arrived in California almost 20 years ago my pastor noted that the bay area was “the mission field” as less than 5% of people attended church regularly here.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I see the church through a different lens now. In many ways, I acknowledge my own unknowns more aggressively than I ever did as a practicing evangelical. Things aren’t black-and-white. Life has a whole lot of gray. There’s grace in everyone’s practice of faith – whatever you believe. We come alongside one another to not hamper but facilitate growth.
It sitting up here I’m reminded of the reset this holiday brings. Come January 1 we’re all exhausted from the holidays. Having a couple of weeks to rest during the winter with the promise of longer days and warmer weather ahead, Easter really does feel like the beginning of a new year even if our about calendar doesn’t agree.
I’m looking to travel lighter in life. I want to bring less stuff with me whether it’s physical, emotional, or mental. There’s a letting go of the circumstance that’s required to embrace the grace extended – wherever its source. That’s my hope for this new year to be freer, fuller, and a more active participant in this thing we call life.
Sunrises have always been symbolic for me in that we’ve got one extra day to do what we were designed to do.
Happy Easter everyone.