Any Bike, Anywhere
Day three of the Rough Rider’s Rally, a meticulously planned tour of Marin County’s best dirt. The event producer was Chris Kostman, a guy who rode from SF to LA in about 31 hours back in high school, then achieved renown as retrogrouch/curmudgeon a few years later by penning an article in Bicycle Guide that essentially pooh-poohed mountain bikes, “I have yet to find a mtn biker that could beat me in the dirt”.
Hate mail (and spirited debate) ensued. Kostman was too busy producing ultra marathons to settle the question for the last twenty years.
The Marin event was to be an exploration of the issue. He had Charlie Kelly and me for color (well, off color in my case) commentary, and forty two enthusiastic riders of all strips. Most had attended other AdventureCorps rides. I might have been the only ‘virgin’.
Friday was easy: ride over Ridgecrest Blvd on the prettiest day of the year. Three hours saddle time with Sean, Errin and Bruce.
Saturday was hard: get up early and face the foggy hills with lie-abeds Megan, Donna, Mike, Matt and J-Law, who spent an hour discussing the Tour over coffee on the comfy couch at Tam Bikes, as the rest of the pack disappeared into the folds of Mt. Tam.
I’d fallen in with the hammers.
Whether they wanted it or not, I shared what little I know about Railroad Grade, and learned a bit about the impressive J-Law whose wife Cara Gillis races professionally.
I really endeared myself to him pointing out what lousy spouses racers are . Maybe with a bit too much finality.
Maybe he didn’t know I had proof: moi!
Then there was the issue of my non-stop gabbling.
We picked up a lost rider, Andy Mari who’d arrived a bit late and done the reverse route, and I finally rode with someone my speed (he had checkered vans draped over his pedals–very Don Martin/ Mad magazine). Clinging to adhesion’s limit on those threadbare “Expotition” tires (at least 12 years old, nicely hardened) added suspense down the Gerbode Valley’s long, curvy descents.
The fabled city of Marincello is spectacular by its absence. Golden Gate National Recreation Area happened instead: a vast tract of not-quite pristine former army base. Eco-politics trumped a huge speculative project when growth (=”jobs!” ) was the rule–and under Londonian fog it’s easy to imagine the highrise apartments, freeway, yacht harbor, restaurants hidden below. Of course, we rough riders would be more like mad Maxines and desperate bike messengers in the midst of tourist town traffic, had Mr. Frouge’s dream been realized.
The cashmere sweater/tights combo proved prescient, but I forgot to eat the heavy lunch in my bag until too late (four straight hours of cycling). I rode the remaining hour of the 37 mile ride (plus the eight from home) somewhat delirious, wisely skipping the big Coyote/Miwok dirt climbs.
Too pooped to think, I got lost trying to find the Tam Valley Community Center, but finally got there and plopped down with a personalized bag of salt and pepper Kettle chips (thank you Elizabeth!).
Compared belly-jewelry with Eliz: we have the same little barbell, though mine has fake rubies, just like troll dolls had in the 60’s.
About thirty of us demolished the tasty punjabi supper with vegan options that truly looked great. As a carnie, I only eyed the goodies because everyone knows vegan bikies have to eat their weight in food every day, or else. I learned a bit about the redoubtable Swarm! team…and more about the amazing tandemists Jo and Jeff and a LOT more about Sean Virnig, who brought along Charlie the elegantly attired American Sign Language interpreter. Suddenly we became a lot more talkative, and when I asked Sean and Anna which of them was the “loudmouth”, Anna pointed at Sean.
I very seldom meet a PAIR of loudmouths…and given that both are acoustically quiet, I knew that this personality trait would come out in other ways.
Everyone who’s met Sean at the bike shows speaks of his glowing, articulate face and hands and of course the bike, which does a bit of talking as well.
Several cold beers later, awards were handed out and my old bike got one. Might have to polish ‘er up, and put new Cat-eye tape on the bars. But the tires are staying…I want them to unravel beneath me…First went to the Rawland bike (Drakkar?) w/650b tires, and second to Megan Dean’s fresh-off-the-press-who-needs-paint-anyway Moth Attackcycle.
Karen Rehder a long-ago wom-buddy, took me home by car–making it possible for me to get some z’s.
Next day at seven a.m. CC challenged me to get to Mill Valley on time.
I accepted, and was on board my ‘croclo-zeiss’ bike within ten minutes. Skipped breakfast–I needed to dress up a bit .Last night Chris had taken ta poke at my wabi-shabby style.
This made the two hour ride practically hallucinogenic. The pace was a manageable four miles per hour, allowing for much gossip. The hammers weren’t there to press me into the hurt zone, and we topped the mountain in sunshine with a big old fogbank to the south.
I dropped down the back side, down El Drudge (much less drudgy downhill! The bike was flawless, limber and most of all had the correct tire pressure. By accident, no doubt.
Dazzled by the golden paved surface of madrone leaf and rough rock, I was praying I wouldn’t have to walk ten miles. The pinstripe woolen pants and natty leather ankle boots with the smooth leather sole look great, but probably would have been too hot to walk in.
No one on the ride knew of the not-yet-beaten-to-death tweed craze. It will come.
Now, for weeding the back forty.