Summer may have officially just begun, but in California it feels as if it has been in full force for months. Though we've been getting out camping and spending longs days in the sun for a while now, that didn't stop a celebration of the year's longest day - and consequent shortest night.
6 pm at the bridge on the longest day of the year means shorts and a t-shirt. Loaded down with camping gear on cross bikes, we weren't at all dismayed to have missed a group of our friends on road bikes, instead choosing to ride the dirt option up to the top of Mt. Tam - Railroad Grade. Railroad, while 90% dirt and quite chattery, is possible on a road bike, it turns out that its pretty damn hard with bags. Oh well, that's how you earn your dinner. We bombed down Coastal trail as the sun cast a stunning gradient of oranges, pinks and blues as it disappeared into the eternal Pacific
Thanks to some local tips, we settled into a perfectly secluded and fully illegal campsite on the mountain, facing the city and the sunrise, yet flat and sheltered from the wind by the trees. As we set up camp and cooked dinner, we watched the full Strawberry moon (it was a perfect night to be out for the elusive full moon solstice) rise as the city we sought to escape lit up brilliantly.
The longest day means the shortest night, and by 5:30 nature's alarm clock of birdsong and light sweeping over the horizon had us out of the tent and brewing coffee. I have a horrible time waking up early at home, but out camping I wake up refreshed and raring to go. Inspiration by my surroundings undoubtedly.
And just like that, it was time to pack up the bikes and point our bikes towards the sunlight and home. It'd be wrong to say that heading home from trips like these is a return to reality; the truth is that integrating this type of quick escape is our reality. There's joy in the unpredictability, in the spontaneity and in the suspension of routine.
Our reality is such that as often as we can, we escape the smells, sounds and spaces that confine us in the city for places and experiences that are more open, more free, and often more beautiful. And it is thanks to cycling that we do this best.