Between push and pull PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Karel Nunnink   
Between push and pull.


I recall quite vividly the focus spent on hours of watching for wisps of fog on the distant horizon, and hoping the water would show a more aggressive wind line, as the crude plywood wind meter post would creep up and then dip down again.People had gathered from all over the western US to this favorite sailing spot on the Sacramento delta, but my group of friends come mainly from the Bay Area, Grass Valley, Reno and Tahoe.

So we drove there with our various rigs varying from Volkswagen busses to large Dually trucks with cab over camping rigs.
All stacked up with roof racks loaded with boards masts and bikes, most arriving late afternoon on a Fri, during May to September.
The ones arriving early would grab the best parking spots as these were limited to no more than 15-20 rigs.
There we would camp for the duration of the weekend, setting up all our quiver of different size sails, so when the wind did present itself we would be ready to rig up and fly on the water.
Sometimes because off heavy fog in the bay, the cool air would rush in to fill the gap formed by the rise of hot inland air, this would be more pronounced late afternoon to dusk or in the very early morning hours at Dawn.
Now with the afternoon lengthening and within the span of a half hour the stillness is broken with wind bellowing trough the bramble blackberry bushes and creating frothy waves on the water.
Wind is now throwing the waves against the levee rocks spraying the asphalt as the shadows start to lengthen with the late afternoon sun hanging lower on the horizon.
There is a big rush to see who is going out first and what seize sail he/she is on, others are more intent on monitoring their hand held wind meters and donning wetsuits.
Then the fun begins as I struggle my rig against the wind and head for the small sandy beach where we all launch from, that first step into the river can be invigorating especially in the spring, I position my board in a way to deflect the air off my sail, point my nose slightly off wind sheet in and step up onto the board.
This is a crucial moment were balance is required to keep the board on a reach while sheeting in or sometimes pumping the sail to get enough power to plane the board on the water, when suddenly all drag has disappeared and you accelerate forward.
Step back, a short hip adjustment to engage your harness hook with the lines attached to the boom, feel for the padded foot straps, slide in your feet and again adjust your stance.
The board starts to humm as you pick up speed and close the gap.. (the opening between bottom of sail and board).
Now you commit totally to the sail and boom as you lean out over the water and make small adjustments in sail angle to ether grab more power(sheet in) or bleed power(sheet out).
Wind water waves and muscular energy now combine to PULL you along at what feels like breakneck speeds, you have become a Forcebender.
The Pedicab riders start filtering in around mid morning and after securing their various colored rigs usually end up in a neat line north of the ferry building or pier 1.
The aroma of hot coffee lingers in the air as stories of crazed Uber drivers and past ball game rides pass the time before the crowds start to arrive.
The lazy rhythm of a clarinet song from a sidewalk performer is sometimes drowned out by the sudden belching sound of a Harley blasting by with gut wrenching roars of throttle twists accompanied by shrieks of heavy metal distorting the speakers.
I cover my ears to protect eardrums from the assault as it thankfully passes, then continue my conversation with another younger rider also from my past homeland of the Netherlands, for me this is great as I get to renew words forgotten by lack of use since my family immigrated here from Holland in the early 60s.
There are athletic riders here from all across the globe, including Columbia, Russia, China, Great Britton, Ireland, Holland, Morocco, the Philippines and the US.
Some are students, some former Tech workers some aspiring Lawyers, Teachers and amazing Musicians.
Their ages range from mid twenties to seventies, their main motivation to offer their  services by informing entertaining and transporting people in such a manner as to be totally immersed in the soap opera like random events happening along the ever surprising but mesmerizing routes along the SanFrancisco bay, all this by using their internal muscular power only.
I hear the flags begin to ruffle first before feeling the tug of a freshly woken breeze, now there is that sinking feeling in my gut telling me of what's to come as the prediction by various weather reports of wind gusts up to 28-30 mph becomes reality.
We often carry loads of up to 6 people for distances of anywhere from 3-7 miles, and it all becomes a game of momentum.
Yes we've got some hills to climb if you're headed to Chinatown, Union Square, or even the Golden Gate Bridge, but nothing stifles momentum more than the PUSH of wind.
So here we are at about 3pm, bringing a family of 5 people from the Ferry building up to Pier 39, I'm now about 5 hours into my shift just passing the huge Cruise ship anchored by pier 27.
There is a easy bend in the road as I now struggle against wind gusts that rob me of all the power of my legs to push down on the pedals, I'm now moving at a slow crawl, lungs heaving as I focus on the exhale to feed oxygen to my starving energy factories(mitochondria).
My Quads are burning as I change body position in order to recruit more hip extenders
(Glutes)so I stand up on the pedals shifting my weight from side to side helping to power the pedals by using my body weight, but still the effort is taxing my heart rate  driving it higher.
Suddenly I remember my sailing days and shift upper body position angling slightly forward as I feel the wind deflecting of my chest now creating a bit of lift, I feel lighter standing on the pedals and am able to keep my heart rate from rising, a small voice of concern from one of the girls behind me asks are you alright? I look back gather a smile and in between gasps of breaths state, O yea I'm good, it's only when I start foaming at the mouth that you need to worry, very embarrassing, they all break up in laughter and I keep pedaling PUSHING against the wind.
Well there you have it, my experience with the duality of the wind.
Like everything else in life there is a duality in all things neither good nor bad, yin nor yang, day nor night. It's up to each one of us to experience and decide how to adapt to keep moving forward.
Nothing worthwhile comes easy.
Live long love strong.

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