Not that I haven't had a good time up here....I do my best not to be the kind of person who sits around doing nothing and complaining. That's why I bring my bikes. And I've done pretty good this trip. I think I managed to ride every other day the entire month. That's a really good average. For some it might be too much, for others too little.
I have found that for me, cycling is my 'life-medication'. And like any medication, there is a 'correct' amount. Too little time in the saddle and I get cycling anemia. It makes we weak and lethargic, and if the condition continues without prompt medication it causes personality disorders and will severely affect my mental outlook. Jeannie can tell if I "took my meds" recently, just by how I act. And in being a wonderful wife AND a nurse (as all wives are) she can instantly diagnose my anemic cycling condition and prescribe the cure by simply saying: "why don't you go for a ride?"
It's really that simple. And as a good husband, I'm pretty much obliged to follow her direction, because that's how good marriages work: the husband does that the wife says. Yes, I freely admit it. Any guy who says otherwise is not being totally honest. Or is married to an alien of some sort. I'm quite certain that all women from Planet Earth are born to be in charge. It's just how things work.
But I digress at the original intent of today's post: my LAST ride of this trip. I hadn't intended for it to be the last ride, it just looks like that will be how it ends up. You see, it started raining last night. Lots of rain I think. I came out of work this morning into a pitch-black parking lot trying to find my car, and walked thru some pretty deep puddles. And there is more forecast for today.
My ride yesterday was hopefully going to be where I finally meet up with Jill Homer (yes, it would be she of the Jill Outside blog) and we would get to go for a ride together. I've been following her blog for many years now. Since before she entered her first Iditasport Trail Invitational (the race up in Alaska, in February, covering 350 miles of the same Iditarod sled-dog trail that goes from Nome to Anchorage. Since then one of her many cycling accolades is she lined up at the start for the Tour Divide race 2 years ago, which is a 2700 mile race along the continental divide from Canada to Mexico. She not only finished (which is an absolutely astounding achievement) but she set a new women's record! And she has 2 published books, one about the ITI race and the 2nd about the TD race. I have both (autographed of course...via the mail). And now I was finally going to meet this Energizer Bunny on a bike in person!
Sadly, it didn't happen. She has picked up a nasty little bug that is going around....a head-cold that is preceded by a sore throat. I had it last Saturday, and many folk at work have been getting it and it seems to be passing around fast in this area. The morning of the ride I checked my email and she said she wasn't feeling very well, and I knew it was grim. But I slept a few hours and got up and ready to ride, and received the dreaded truth: she was out. Feeling horrible. AND she is supposed to leave today (Weds) for a Rim to Rim adventure of the Grand Canyon with her dad.
The ride we had intended to do was the Tunitas Creek road ride that I raved about 2 weeks or so ago. She had never done it and I was quite excited to go back. Well. After the light rains on Monday, I figured the roads would still be wet coming down thru the redwoods. Hmmmmm....lets see. Wet roads, the first rain in many months (meaning all the oil droplets and exhaust goo and such from the cars and motorcycles haven't yet been washed away), and skinny highly inflated bike tires trying to descend on the newly rain-slicked-roads. Not a good plan. So I called the audible and decided to re-ride the Saratoga Gap trail loop I had done 3 weeks ago, only this time I'd deviate and take two alternate trail portions during said loop. The trails were pretty wet but not muddy (as in: I'd leave tire prints here and there but nowhere was I sinking in leaving ruts...I won't ride if it's like that).
Being wet, lots of debris is flung up by my tires and clings to my legs. By the end of the ride I had little twigs, pieces of leaves, and mud-splats all over my legs (and also my backside I found when I took my camelback off after the ride). But despite all this, it turned out to be probably the most awesome of all my great rides this trip! Riding inside the forest just after a rain, well...there just isn't any fresher air than that. It was like one giant ever-changing concoction of herbal tea aromas. Each breath seemed to bring a different earthy scent. Every type of tree, shrub and plant I'd pass having different smells... the mixture was intoxicating. The trails were surprisingly firm overall. But the going was slower than in dry weather, as there are roots and rocks all over the place. And even though the trail overall was quite solid, the wet roots and rocks were something to be ridden over like eggshells.
I almost went over my handlebars on the return leg while going over and around a tree-stump / root system in the middle of the trail. Had it been dry I would have easily just gone over, but it's at a funny angle and the best line is to take the side nearest the drop off. However, being at an angle, when it's wet your tires slide when they hit it (towards the aforementioned drop off). I gently lofted my front tire as I approached, but my balance was slightly off and it lightly tapped the root on the way over and slid, pitching me and my bike towards the steep embankment. As the front wheel went off the edge I was already unclipping and jumping clear. Had I been even a tiny bit slower I would have gone over with the bike. As it was I managed to jump off onto the trail and was able to grab the back wheel as the bike was going down, saving me from an ugly hike down a steep WET embankment to retrieve my bike. Turns out you get a pretty-good adrenaline rush from a 'near miss'.
Overall I was strangely weak on the climbs, and I'm glad Jill wasn't there to see it (something about showing weakness to a girl...especially one who can ride her bike 2700 miles over the course of 20 days or so). The final climb up Charcoal Rd I was barely crawling in my granny gear, and couldn't think of any good reason for the sad state of my climbing this day. My near crash was not long after this climb, and I think part of the reason I almost lost it was that I was just tired and being lazy on that one particular move. That's how most crashes happen...you let your guard down for just a few milliseconds at just the wrong time. I think that's how car crashes and probably most other accidents happen too. At least that's my professional opinion.
Overall it was just an absolutely awesome day. I OWNED the trails! Not a tire track to be found! There were however TONS of deer tracks. Pretty much anywhere there was a soft spot not covered by leaves (which are almost everywhere as fall has certainly hit) there were fresh deer tracks.