August 15, 2004: The peloton gets strung out
Today we started out with a full mug of ambition and promise, but ended up with only a few drops of reality to whet our cycling whistles. Not that it wasn't a good time, but today's ride mostly served to inform us about how to do it better the next time.
Surprisingly, we lined up six riders for an epic jaunt through the always challenging Skeggs (Corte Madera) trail complex: myself, Romulus, FrankenFine, Dr. Jeckyl, TP, and G-Unit. G-Unit had sketched out a very challenging route that was designed to take us to the nether regions of Skeggs along the farthest outposts of the Virginia Mill Trail. While brilliant in concept, this route turned out to have some issues.
One issue is that Skeggs has many trails, and these trails each have many points of egress and ingress, making it somewhat difficult to put your head down and just ride. Even an attentive rider must either know the trails quite well or be constantly checking the map in order to ensure adherence to a prescripted route. Throw in six riders who haven't really ridden together before and you're going to have a peloton more strung out than Rush Limbaugh at a Jehovah's Witnesses retreat.
This reality became apparent less than five minutes into our ride. After everyone carefully reviewed the map and discussed the route at the Fir Trail trailhead, we started off, everybody fired up and peddling away with joyful abandon. At some point (unknown to me, see inattentive rider) we veered off Fir onto the Tafoni Trail and after a couple of minutes we came to a large group of riders congregated at the junction of Tafoni and Resolution. As we gathered our own group and began wading through the cycling sea, G-Unit pointed out that, even though we had gone less than a mile, we were already off course. Where we had veered Tahoni, we should have lurched Fir.
Once again we huddled, conferred, agreed, and broke, although, I have to admit, I was just planning on following somebody else. We took Resolution to Corte Madera and eventually hooked into the North and South Leaf trails, with the South being a steep grueling rocky climb to an even rockier section of the Virginia Mill Trail. The Leaf trails had some very challenging technical singletrack that required just the right amounts of speed, balance, and sack to get through without tapping down. It also featured some pretty substantial waterbars that created huge air opportunities. I pulled a couple of good technical spots on the way up the rocky Virginia Mill section, but those spurts left me gassed on the upper sections of the hill, some of which I had to walk.
At the bottom of Virginia Mill is a creek crossing, which is listed on many maps as the bridge washout. We convened a meeting of the minds at this hallowed spot but could not discern any trace of a bridge. A beautiful spot though, replete with towering redwoods, a gurgling creek, and massive deadfall. From the creek crossing, it's basically a whole lotta uphill going on. We puffed our way up Virginia Mill to Gordon Mill and from there, things started to look a little more familiar to me. I do enjoy that Gordon Mill -- it's steep enough to pose a challenge, but if you're feeling good, you can build up a head of steam and start cranking. At the junction with lower Steam Donkey, Romulus and I made a break for the parking lot. Not to go for the stage win or lay the hurt on each other, but because we were eager to get back to see the finishing holes of the PGA Championship. The ride had gotten off to a late start and the difficulty keeping our group together had evaporated the morning, so we made the difficult decision to haul on out to the parking lot.
OK, the peloton idea didn't work out today, but looking back it at, there's no way it could. There is just no way you can keep six riders tightly packed on stuff like Skeggs, especially when they have never ridden together before. But not to despair, the potential is there. I liken it to the female roommates menstruation phenomenon. As most women will tell you, after three of four months sharing an apartment with other women, they wind up with synchronized cycles. It's a universal force. If we rode together a few times, on a flatter course with more extended sight lines, I think we too could harness the universal force of synchronized cycling. It's worth a shot, because pack riding is damn fun!
Let's see, there were some interesting odds and ends today. In the parking lot before the ride, I saw a guy with a prosthetic forearm all geared up in downhill armor and wheeling around the parking lot. I didn't see how he worked the brake or the shifter on his right side, but damn, that is hardcore. What an inspiration. Of the six of us, Romulus was the only one riding a hardtail. Surprisingly, I avoided any chainsucks today, although I felt it seize up once, but I backed off before it could completely wedge. Maybe my wrenching skills are eclipsing my riding skills (See August 14, 2004: Captain's log, shopdate 46.34.22). My fork seals are still seeping like Krusty's rheumy piehole, but the forks felt good. The ground was moist to the point of being muddy at the top, but down the hill it was warm, dry, and dusty today.
The only animal I saw all day was a banana slug.
|Mileage: 13.66||Time: 1:45:19||Avg: 7.7||Max: 26.0||Weight: 172|
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