Cake and Champagne Paddle

March 5 marked my 70th birthday. So what do I do on my birthday? I go paddling with friends. What better way to celebrate than being outdoors in the fresh air, doing something active with the camaraderie of good friends. I volunteered to be the trip initiator, and after reviewing the tides and currents with some knowledgeable fellow paddlers, I opted to plan the paddle from Emeryville to Point Isabel. With a strong ebb sucking water out of the bay for most of the day, paddling along the east shore of the bay would avoid strong currents. The announcement I posted on the BASK club bulletin board read “Thursday Paddle: Cake and Champagne.”

We met at the the boat ramp at the Emeryville Marina and, contrary to the signs that said “Paid Parking” and the a warning that parking might be an issue, we were able to park close to the boat ramp for free. It seems the signs are out of date.

We were lucky enough to have our good friends Danny and Susan show up with a double that they had just acquired; a very long boat. It took four people to get it on the water.

After a safety talk and radio check we were on the water at 10:30. We had calm water and overcast skies when we launched, with a prediction for winds of 8 knots with gusts to 12 knots in the afternoon.

Our paddle took us north along the east shore of San Francisco Bay. As we approached the Berkeley Marina, we were beginning to feel the effects of the wind as wind waves kicked up a bit. Everybody seemed to be comfortable with the conditions so we paddled on, past Berkeley, past the Albany Bulb and on to Point Isabel. The landing at Point Isabel only accommodates one boat at a time on a rocky beach, so we took turns bringing our boats in.

As we were breaking out the cupcakes and champagne, who should show up but our paddling buddy Tom, on a bike, decked out in a PFD and spray skirt. The best way to explain this is to share Tom’s post from the club message board:

At breakfast this morning, Ellen is perusing Buzz and says “Oh, Treve’s having a birthday pedal today to have cake and champagne at Point Isabel. He says you have to wear a PFD and spray skirt to attend.” She caught me at “cake”, and I replied “When will they be at Point Isabel?” The answer, “probably around noon.”

Now I’ve never ridden my bike wearing a PFD and spray skirt, but Treve’s an interesting fella and might know something I don’t about this.

So I got OTB [on the bike] around 11:15 and had a smooth pedal down to the bay and along the bay trail, no ferry angle needed. Approaching Point Isabel I am astonished to see Treve and his buddies not on bikes, but paddling kayaks! Huh?

Oh well, at least they did let me have one of Joann’s homemade cupcakes and a sip of bubbly.

How was it pedaling with PFD and spray skirt? Not recommended, but if you do, best to secure the grab loop to a buckle on your PFD to prevent tangling (thanks, Susan, for the tip). I didn’t attempt a roll.

Happy birthday, Treve! And it was great to see Danny and Susan on Danny’s Thursday paddle. As it should be.

Tom C.

After lunch it was back in the boats for the return trip to Emeryville. The wind which had been threatening to build moderated a bit, and we found ourselves riding a bit of chop heading back around the Albany Bulb and into Berkeley. As we approached the Berkeley Marina we opted to duck inside the marina. It seems Susan’s legs were going numb from sitting in the back cockpit of the double. Susan swapped places with Steve and we were back on the water. From Berkeley it was an easy paddle back to the Emeryville boat ramp, returning at 3:15. Our paddle covered 9.9 miles. Not a bad day for a 70 year old. You can view more stats on the tracklog here and more photos here.

Track of our Thursday Cake and Champagne Paddle

BAMPFA and Ottoman

We made a visit to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive today, arriving by bike after church. Our motivation for the visit was to watch the film “The End of the Ottoman Empire” by Mathilde Damoisel, a documentary overview of the Ottoman Empire and its decline. The Ottoman Empire is not something I ever studied in school and not something for which I’ve had much appreciation. This movie helped enlighten me, and helped me understand some of the history and cultural issues that still impact much of the middle east today. Recommended viewing if you get a chance. There is another viewing on December 4. Don’t delay though. Tickets for today’s showing sold out early!

Aside from the movie, the building itself has some fascinating architecture.

Ibuprophen s’il vous plaît?

Our first stop when we reached Le Barp was the pharmacy. Ibuprophen is the “lubricant” that seems to keep our muscles and joints working. When we run out, or bodies threaten to seize up like a car engine running without oil. We left home with what we thought was a sufficient supply, but it seems we miscalculated.

With a fresh supply of our “lubricant” we managed to log 62 kilometers, leaving Le Barp about 9:30, stopping for bread, salami, cheese and fruit before pedaling through the forest and into the maritime provinces where we stopped to look at the oyster producing areas, through the Parc Ornithologique and on to Arcachon, arriving in Arcachon about 5:30.

Vin s’il vous plaît?

We’ve logged 102 km on our bike ride, having left the town of Cadillac on the morning of September 17th. Our ride has taken us over the rolling hills of the wine country in the Bordeaux region, past Chateaus, churches, through a variety of villages and hamlets to the small town of Origne, where we’re taking a day to just relax. The french motorists are very courteous and respectful of cyclists it seems. A contrast to riding at home. Enjoying fabulous food and wine along the way.

Cadillac: Start of our “Tour de France”

Town gate at Cadillac, near Bordeaux
Town gate at Cadillac, near Bordeaux

Today we start another adventure in France with a six-day bicycle ride from Cadillac, near Bordeaux, to Arcachon on the coast, riding through vineyards, visiting Chateaus and shady forests.