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woodside ramble

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United States of America

woodside ramble

Huddart County Park, California


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Only Dylan would ride 50km uphill for an hour before running an ultramarathon, no matter where he placed no one before him could claim that feat. The streets were quiet at 6:30am, our only human contact for the first 15 minutes a fellow cyclist, the stillness was divine. As we winded up the hill more cars started passing us, inside the divers wearing fluorescent hats and colourful jackets, runners for sure. Huddart park was already abuzz with movement and colour when we arrived, there was no time to rest, wonderfully warmed up Dylan was off to change and then line up at the start amongst pink flamingos and fluttering flags.

Once the 50kers jogged out of sight I left the marathoners and halfers to their butterflies and shortcutted through the trails to where I hoped my map reading skills had not deceived me was the confluence of all the trails, where the sunlight broke through the canopy in beams. I waited without a peep or sign of a soul, a solitary picnicker on a mossy throne. There was a cough in the distance and I jumped, thoughts of Magdalena foolishly swelling to the surface, but there was silence and then the sound of cars, the road must be nearby. Then finally the first of the marathoners founded by, fluorescent yellow he paused for directions before scrambling out of sight. Then a steady stream of runners, half marathoners down a distant trail, the marathoners metres from my perch. Hours passed.

Once the novelty of playing with shutter speed had worn off, a lady stumbled up the trail to divert me. She was a half marathoner completely off track, I redirected her and ran with her sending her back down the pink ribboned track. Then the fluoro marathoner came passed me again and double taking paused to tell me tale of woe. “Someone lied to me, they told me I had to go all the way up the mountain, I was going to be the champion, I was first you saw, now I am like 51st, this is devastating, I should have won, they lied to me, I was first, you saw!” I commiserated with him, but as he continued his run his stream of laments and shouts could be heard all the way down the hill until he was finally out of earshot. This was not to be the only mix-up of the day due to random interventions, luckily Dylan was not affected by these wicked woodland sprites.


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The sun was overhead when I first caught sight of Dylan, then I scrambled down the hill to catch him again before he headed out of sight. I bounded down my short cut (mercifully down hill this time) to get to the finish line, I need not of hurried as the course still wound its way for 15 minutes or so. First had all ready smashed the course record by over half an hour, then second rolled in looking fresh, I waited. The the bell was ringing out and people were clapping as Dylan bounded down the hill. Third place, despite the glutenous week in Portland and illness he was in the top three!

Rested and fed, he told how there were some women with horses on the track who had been yelling at runners for scaring their horses, rather comically yelling at Dylan “what are you in a race or something?!” I overhead another group of half marathoners bemoaning the same women saying that one had threatened to sue them if she broke her neck, it was obviously the consensus that inexperienced riders, with untrained horses had no place on the trails on a designated and signposted race day. then all chaos broke loose, people started arriving at the finish line form the wrong direction having done 5 extra miles, the first female 50ker arrived from the right direction, but saying she had gotten lost because the ribbons were all on the same tree at one point and she had taken the wrong turn. The forest tricksters were at it again, someone had moved the ribbons, stories of misdirection and indignant horse riders coalesced and it became clear who the culprits were. The ribbons were fixed and rangers sent out to find some lost marathoners, confusion eased and everyone settled for a quiet afternoon picnic on the grass.


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Plant Cafe
Pricey, but the vegan raspberry cheesecake is amazing!

Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel
Also pricey, but fun for the novelty of staying in bunks in a barracks. Filled to the brim with Melbourne Grammar students though, haven’t heard that accent for a while!

Time was ticking on when we finally made our descent. I discovered that a 50km run is what it takes to make me a faster descender than Dylan and vowed to make Dylan run every morning of our European cyclotour. We returned to San Fran to drop off our bikes, the grumpy owner taking out his frustration over a rude customer on our arrival. As we departed he pressed lindt easter bunnies into our hand with a cracked smile as apology and we were off, on a long trudge with packs on to the youth hostel. We broke up the trip with a nice, but expensive meal on the a bayside restaurant and later scrambled for jumpers and pants in a warehouse when the wind picked up and sunset. We plunged into the depths of fisherman’s wharf, a perpectual carnival, but amidst all the tacky gloss and flashing lights, a lone saxophone player added class to his spot under the street lights. Then onward passed a police car with the bike crammed in the trunk, the owner presumably drunk sent of to hospital in a stupor. Suddenly we were out and it was dark, people called to each other from ship to shore, perhaps some ancient calk to port, someone from the dunes yelled “shut up!!!!!!!”. Then rounding the hill there it was, the old fort barracks that would be our home for the night. Sleep.


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