Dying Oaks, Razing Homes
Rode a couple mornings ago, on a fine warm day with the smoke from LA inferno suspended in the sunlight. Lowest visibility I’ve experienced in years…Charlie and I took the new route up into the Pine Mountain zone, using Sir Francis Drone Boulevard to get to ‘Brown Bridge Trail’. This connector has added a new region of bicycle exploration: the ridge between Fairfax and West Marin. And except for the toilsome approach, it’s away from cars.
Ironically the solution lies inside the hill itself. There’s a railway tunnel bored in it that served the fire engines long after the trains stopped scooting under White’s Hill. Alas the ends of the tunnel were sealed forty years ago, overgrown and forgotten.
Except by ambitious teens like Charlie and his friend Scot Bowman, who hoped to move a few rocks aside and walk all the way through. No such luck, but at least they got to be inside a hundred year old tunnel!
We bikers are actively lobbying for the tunnels to be refurb’d and re-frequented, but a part of us knows that the Powers That Be won’t be very open minded about this heretical concept: a road that cars can’t drive on? And how many billion dollars?
White’s Hill is infamous (among bikers and emergency response teams) for all the traffic accidents that occur. There is a cluster of red pins at the police station map showing that if you’re expecting everything to be As It Should on that long southbound descent from farmlands into Fairfax, think again. Those pin say enough.
While: it’s fun to reach fifty mph on this section, there are a couple of right hand turns where you cannot see what’s round the corner. What if a car were stalled in the middle, after spinning out?
But about us: we were climbing that section (heading out of town) when we were passed by a platoon of giant, two-trailer trucks. The kind with the beveled bed that holds big rocks…passing reasonably far from us…while belching foul poison.
The county is experiencing a sort of ‘pre-endgame surge’ of building…and the things (mansions and roads leading to them) are huge, often remote, and on steep hillsides. Engineered walls and much rip-rap are key structural components. Non stop caravans of trucks parade through the narrow roads during the week. My friend Mark Woodrow, biker par excellence, is working overtime to keep up with this building boom– he’s a structural engineer.
Back to two middle aged people out on a ride to get away from it all…
We survived the half mile freeway quality, got on the new trail with its spiffy switchbacks and utterly rideable grades…through bay forest, grassland, ridgetop, God what a COUNTY. When we finally get up top, the reward of a view with NO HOUSES (at least for awhile).
Rode San Geronimo Ridge to the Pine Mtn Truck road, and were saddened to see that the MMWD is doing a huge road building project leading out to the red-legged frog waterfall ponds…
When they’re not paving the fire roads, radar-gunning the cyclists and ticketing night riders, they are digging up habitat, laying creosote timbers in the marshes and allowing those chemicals to dribble in to the watershed. The sudden oak die-off makes me think of all the insults we had heaped on the open spaces and her hikers, since the late 1800’s.
HELL I seem not to be up to finishing this darn thing.
Will you forgive a sudden quittage?
No I think not.
OK finishing with this: as I rode home, I chanced to see a for rent sign, and learned that the residents, both artists were looking for a third renter to shoulder the monthly rent, even though the house owner (absent ) plans to emply the house+clubhouse, and put a mini-mansion in…
And then the artists get to hunt for new housing…these guys down the street had been at 46 Cross-to-Bear Avenue, off Woof Lane.
Like the brown trees that now number 15% of the trees in the county, the die-off of artist ‘habitat’ (anything with low rent, in an old house usually) will assure the scattering of all that brain and talent…to Oregon.
I guess I’m not happy with this. Too tired to figure out how to accept these intractable realities…