USA 2020 Part 7 (by Matthew Gee)
Basketball, Baseball and bottoms.
Everyday feels like a Monday – we have been working very hard. Travelling, early starts, concerts and masterclasses. But now we were in the unprecedented situation of having TWO WHOLE DAYS OFF! The first day would largely be spent traveling to San Francisco, but the following day we were at our leisure. Our journey to San Fransisco went like clockwork; connections made, bags arrived, ubers summoned. We made the most of it dashing straight out of our hotel to 1 Warriors Way, the home of the mighty Golden State Warriors, our newly adopted basket ball team. We were no lucky charm, the Houston Rockets thrashed us 105 – 135, but it was a great evening, despite paying $15 for a beer!
The time difference was now an additional three hours back, so a quick drink post-match and then bed…for most. A few hardy souls managed to find a late night curry/pizza, which was rumoured to be one of the culinary highlights of the tour! Personally, I have my doubts!
The next day greeted us with glorious blue skies. The morning was a relaxed affair, people taking the opportunity to do some private practice, exercise, or simply nurse themselves back to full health. Most of the group hired bikes for the day. Pete and Dan pottered around the city on Uber bikes, Simon, Alan, Matt and I hired more substantial ones, crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge and exploring the other side of the bay, Sausalito and the famous coast redwoods of Muir Woods, before taking the ferry back to SF.
The day didn’t unfold quite as we had imagined: a large bang during a rapid downhill section rendered Alan’s bike useless forcing him to walk a mile and a half for a replacement. I swallowed a fly, some now claiming that I have clearly failed in my American vegi. challenge. Simon quickly realised that all his dumbbell training had left him ill prepared for a 55km cycle, and perhaps a more balanced approach to exercise would have prevented him from continually bringing up the rear! We also failed to properly check the ferry times. Safe in the knowledge that the last ferry was at 8pm, we had assumed there would be plenty before it. Alas no. But by just missing the previous ferry we had plenty of time to indulge in the cocktails and oysters of Sam’s Cafe, recommended to us while stationary at some traffic lights by a chap driving a Smart Car. He wasn’t wrong, they were particularly good. People chatting to us en route was quite normal. One lady loudly announcing ‘that is soooo cute’ as Matt and I rode past on our tandem.
We eventually regrouped at Evil Eye, a trendy East End style cocktail bar, where very soon just the under 40s were left standing.
Saddle-sore bottoms and tired limbs greeted us the following morning, but we felt fresh and ready to get back to work. The morning was still free, and seeing as the Six Nations was back in action, our nominally Welsh contingent Huw and Simon (with myself in tow) decided to head to a local Irish bar to watch the action. I think they would like it if I swiftly moved on, but I shan’t. It was like we were in Paris, everyone else supporting the resurgent Les Bleus as they gave the reigning champions a masterclass in counter-rucking and line speed. Seventy minutes in I decided to make myself scarce, not wanting my mood to be dragged down, and so headed out to expend some energy at a baseball cage. With a youth largely spent in cricket nets, I was excited to see how this would transfer to baseball, and I was pretty pleased to send some 75mph pitches back with interest. Matt Knight wasn’t quite so thrill seeking, and decided to do battle with the underarm pitcher instead. A little later Dan put us in our place by divulging that he can bat both left and right handed!
It was back to work in the afternoon, a short 45 minute drive to Cal State East Bay for some masterclasses and an evening recital. Simon imparted his considerable knowledge of horn playing during the masterclass, reminding everyone once again that he did in fact have a girlfriend (👏) and yes, she does play the horn. The concert went as well as we could have hoped, the audience one of the most responsive and enthusiastic we have encountered on this long tour. All that now remains is to decide our post-concert plan: should we call it a night, or should we see if this late night curry/pizza place really is as good as people say?
Until next time.
Distance travelled: 13429 miles (plus 44 cycled, and 10 run by Alan)
Time on the bus: 46 hrs
Time in the air: 29 hrs
States driven through: 13
Gee’s barrels: Still only 1