Cloud Riding

The clouds were low, and we were high.

Imagine, riding atop fluffy, billowy pillows. You can ride up and down their steep plumes, with no fear of falling, since a poofy soft landing will greet you.

Cloud riding is nothing like this.

Real clouds are wet, damp places. Riding in the clouds is riding in a fog bank, but wetter. Rain falls without falling. Everything is muddy and slick. The rocks are still there.

The good news is you can see where the water flows.

At the beginning of the ride, I was advised, “Water is your friend.” Follow the flow of the water. Watch how the water moves over and through the rocks. This is the path of least resistance. Let it be your guide as you flow down the rocks. Flow like water.

This is much easier on my new full suspension bike, which yields to the rocky surface, making me feel as if I am floating up and down the rocks. I flow over the rocks in my braver moments. Other times when I am not brave I walk and try not to slip on the slick surfaces.

I am flowing over the rocks. This is much easier than on my old bike. Flow. Be the water.

Suddenly I experience an intimate encounter with the rocks below me. Palms and thighs collide with stone. I look behind me, and spot a thick sawed-off madrone branch gently vibrating from the force of its collision with my handlebar.

Damage report: twisted handlebars, a bruised palm, and a heightened awareness for the greenery.

Stuck in Second

Some days you have to settle for your second choice. Today was one of those days.

Second rate weather. The rain wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t ride. Just a hazy drizzle with a tease of sunshine here and there. Not nearly as great as the sunny beach weather we’d enjoyed the past few rides, but rideable and relatively enjoyable despite the misty chill.

Second pick of trails. We really wanted to ride a long, lovely all-day route taking us into some of the most isolated trails of Marin county. As we climbed west, we also climbed into the fog. The mist pervaded. The chill penetrated our layers. The mud gummed up our tires, gears, and brakes. After multiple indecisive conversations, we abandoned our initial plan in favor of drier trails closer to home.

Second gear. 32 teeth. Ten more than I’d like. The gummy mud penetrating my chain exploited my overused small gear. Chain suck. To keep the pedal spinning, I found myself stuck in the second chain wheel up front. Harder for grinding up those sloppy, steep inclines.

Second soak. Hot tubs break at the most unfortunate times. Post-ride, we all looked forward to a dip in the hot tub. Broken. Fortunately, this sumptuous site also offered a sauna and cold plunge.

Second blog post on one ride. The first follows and precedes the second.

Sometimes second isn’t so bad.