Karl Vavrek, the enginarchitecteer down the street picked me up for a trip to the great lands known as H. Coe State Park. It’s worth the hundred mile drive just to see such magnificent oak, pine and madrone woodland.
And best of all: legal narrow trails. Lots of them.
As before (4 years ago!? Seems like yesterday), I packed tea and munchies.
But I broke protocol (hell, I rarely ‘do’ protocol) out of pre-ride excitement.
Instead of the always-carefully-packed (& replenished) bum bag, I grabbed a cute backpack with the baseball-swinging rodent hanging from the zipper.
Miss Know-it-All ought to know better than to yield to last-second impulsive switcheroos. The morning I left for Europe last year I changed wallets on a whim, and almost had to order a new Visa card until I realized that the tiny plastic card was still in the “Nah, not this one, try a brighter one” billfold. Those last-second ‘indecision shimmies” will get you every time, because you can ‘t remember where the needle pointed when it was all over! Left? Right? No, left, right?
Lessons learned don’t endure if the penalty isn’t painful enough,All I brought was my camera, some chocolate chip cookies (which I wolfed at lunch) and some blue sunscreen.
I dressed for cold weather, too. Longsleeve turtleneck dark blue polyp-roe shirt, and thermal tights.
It was a warm day, but not the baking summertime heat. This was ideal spring sun with cooling breezes.
Mr. Vvrk is conversant in all the things I know nothing about (namely engineering, building, and architecture).
I adore buildings.
He filled me in on his latest projects, and before long, we were high up in the hills above Morgan Hell.
At Coe, you start at the top of a mountain. You’ve been trapped in a car, and the minute you unload bikes (and pay the five clams) you push off into the great unknown (any ride outside Marin fits in this category). You do not notice your tiny brass valve adaptor has somehow jiggled off the valve. After all, the tiny things escape you, like the fact that you probably didn’t screw it back on right. minimal-thread contact, analagous to the trail of half-cocked jam jar lids, open cabinets and left-where-they-landed clothes you just walked away from. But I digress).
No, the only thing you notice is how nice it is to stretch your legs, and how great to reconnect with a ride buddy seldom seen.
After a mile’s worth of climbing, you drop. And drop. It’s as if you’re flying. Not a thought to how long each of those minutes will take to drag-ass back out.
Giddily, we marvel at how easily the miles scoot by in the next half hour. Karl allowed me to ‘coach’ him in the Fear sections. Mostly it’s swooping narrow track, great stretches of valley bottom, interrupted now and then with gut busting steeps to demonstrate our impeccable command of our machines. I feel so tender toward my old aluminum ‘Colomboham’ , which has a 1995 WoManitou fork (= couple of inches of bounce).
We lunched alongside the China Hole creek bed, about twelve miles in (of about nineteen total). I lay back and stared at the sky, and pretended not to have noticed all the ‘beware of ticks’ signs posted about. Spring IS tick season, and yes, we have borellia burgdorfii infected deer ticks dammit but I want to look at the sky and feel the ground holding me up without dwelling on a tiny creature smaller than the period in NYTimes 9 point. I can’t see that small anyway.
Oops that really is a digression. SO, I enjoyed stretching out, with all the time in the world on a fine day, and most of the ride behind me.
I vaunted my “Superior Handling SKills” (yes, I used those words)on a rocky step formation… then frisked ahead to capture flowers sunning themselves.
The front wheel began to squirm.
I’d let some air out of my front tire ‘for better traction’ earlier, soI knew I had a flat to fix, I’d lost the gamble between better sticktion and likelihood of flatting.
Hey! No spare tube on me !
Karl : Me neither.
Uncomfortable silence, while the implications sink in….
Two grown riders with forty years experience between them FAILED to pack a spare tube.
O.K, so repair is in order. I settle in for a ten minute fix, while he plays with his GPS.
Drat… my tube has a presta valve ( note to self: when did I switch to presta? I thought I was a Schrader girl)… and my Solibloc™ pump is Schraeder.
Miss Fastly Superior experienced a minute of stomach-churning self-loathing
Cool, Karl has a presta pump.
Ten seconds of relief.
“Oh, look at your valve!” The stem was nearly decapitated , and a semicircle of blackness gaped darkly up at us.
The slit-throat valve is endemic to non-technical -minded riders who don’t bother to top off their tires…
If you ride, you begin to notice that not all tubes are created equal, and some are better at retaining air than others…Air bleeds out, it’s normal. People that don’t tinker with their bikes have more frequent ‘disasters’ because when tech fiends putz around (“faff” to you over there in UK), you notice all kinds of things big and small, and attend to them.
Bikes are not like cars, which seem to be engineered for nearly no maintenance (is this why Any Idiot in our country can own and pilot a car?)
This sets the inne rtube a- ‘walking’ inside the ol’ big tire. If you further insult your bike by failing to liberally dust the inside of the tire (with talc, starch, or clay) you will get the Leaning Valve-Stem of Pisa….followed by the slit throat.
It was time to pull out my “Alice B. Toeclips hiking club” membership card.
Except hiking the remaining seven miles would probably take three hours.
I had to run, if we were to get back before dark.
“Karl, I am so sorry…” I offered lamely.”I just added a couple hours of delay to your day”.
He graciously shrugged it off, and rode slowly in solidair(head)ity. Indeed, some times it seemed like my running pace was faster than his riding pace. I know this was an illusion. I really owe ya, KV.
By mile six I was starting to realize that pounding away on bicycle shoes, even on dirt is hard on the feet. I’d already noticed how much resistance a flat front wheel creates, writhing along on the ground, and often threatening to dive off to the side. I was on a lot of single track, and for the first time in my life I yearned to be on a wide fire road, where running alongside a bike isn’t so fraught with footwork issues.
The thought of twisting my ankle that far out added some caution.
But I really wanted the rangerette to come for me.
Luckily it’s against their policy to waste time on lame non-planners.
They have enough real emergencies.
Back at the car Karl “Valve-wreck” was popping me open a beer, and we both dove into the secondrate cheesecake I’d brought.
It was a great day, even when we got lost on the ride home, and added another half hour’s driving…
My bathtub beckoned.
Do you want to know what’s in my bum bag?
A spare tube with no holes in it, wrapped in a scrap of corduroy.
My bikes all have pumps attached to the frame, but if you don’t have a way to lash a pump to your bike, stick on in the camelbag, messyinger bag, what have you..
Water, windbreaker, a small complete set of tools like a hex, a tiny titanium screwdriver custom-made by his royal Muddesty mr. C’ham.
Food food food.
Arm warmers. Ibuprofen. Penknife. Tiny squirt bottle of ProLink™ lube., and a small rag. Maybe a map woudln’t hurt. Pen, paper of course. Sunglasses, reading glasses. Moolah, including coinage. A small coil of titanium wire. Some rubber ‘snakes’ (thin strips of butyl tubing cut up). Kleenex. Or dirtynex, but something, anything for the outdoor loo.