I have a new bike, carbon-fibre frame, blue with orange accents, brand new unlike my campus bike which was pre-owned, as the car ads now say. Two gears in front, lots more in back. I got it a week ago and have been up Alpine to the green gate, where the road stops, three times now, once without stopping. Like the best hikes and rides, the green gate is downhill all the way home. Takes me now an hour and a quarter up and maybe half an hour back, though I wasn’t keeping close track, because mainly I’m happy just to reach the top (though actually there is a hiking trail further up, to Skyline from the green gate. I think, however, that I’ve shaved about ten minutes off my campus-bike time. I do feel sleeker, with my thinner tires and no bike basket jingling.
The bottom part of the ride is on a commuter road up (down) the Sandhill of the venture capitalists, Stanford campus and shopping centre with its not-quite plastic plantings and fancy shops. The top part of the ride is beautiful, along a gorge with a creek bubbling in the bottom, madrone, redwoods, oak, bay laurels, deer…the top part is the reward.
I sent my Baudelaire translation, Invitation to the Voyage, to the publisher yesterday. Sorry to see it go, I could tinker forever and never arrive at perfection. It is scheduled to be out mid-November. It will be followed, also from Seagull, by a translation of Hélène Cixous’s wonderful book We Defy Augury, of which PN Review has just published a chapter.