So this weekend shitbike was left at home so the c-dale could have some one-on-one time with the road (and dirt.) I planned to go shred some of Golden Gate Park but was invited to tag along on a TCB epicness ride to the unknown. I met up with the guys at Four Barrel with no idea what I was getting into.
Ryan, Tyler, Andreas and a couple others were there sipping the pre-ride coffee and hypothesizing what this ride entailed. Chas (the ring leader) shows up and without anyone asking, gives us a preview of the ride he has arranged in his mind. “Last time we did this, the group had 20 flat tires and it took us six hours to get home. Anyone have to work tonight?” We all had to convince ourselves we were in the right place, ready for whatever awaited us. I figured, “what the hell? Let’s do it.”
The plan was to make it down to Pacifica via asphalt and then hop on some dirt trails up the hill and around back home. The terms used were “get lost”, “try to make it back” and “yell WHEN you get a flat” (not IF). Buckling down and preparing myself for the first group ride I’ve been on in a while, I commit to the assumably treacherous road ahead. Mashing through the city, these guys don’t stop at more than a couple of lights. We’re on the ocean route in no time making our way south. There is some chit chatting and a competition every time we hit a climb or descent. We’re all measuring dicks and wasting valuable energy. Remembering the ride ahead of us, we slow down and keep it chill until we reach the first dirt trail in Pacifica.
I’m not sure about the rest of the guys, but I started noticing the guys in full-faced helmets and neck braces as we made our way up the hill. The downhill riders would chuckle at the sight of us and the hikers would look at us in awe. “Are they really going to ride those road bikes on the trails?” Hell yes we were. We continued up the hill for what seemed like forever until we reached an opening, re upped and started on our first descent. Rocky, full of holes and ledges, and on the edge of the mountain, this trail descent was the most fun trail since Annedale. We were stomping over rocks the size of basketballs and holding our line through diamond edged obstacles, on road bikes and simple cross bikes.
We reach another opening and regroup, take a nature break and photo op, then it’s up the hill. Now, I forgot to tell you that previously that day I had failed an endo in the middle of the road resulting in some fancy dance moves to land on my feet, and also landing my bike derailleur-first on a BMW. The BMW was alright but my hanger had bent the derailleur in towards my spokes. Well as we go up that hill, I click over a couple gears and immediately hear the wrenching sound of my derailleur entering my wheels and tearing up everything in its way. So before I even got to the good stuff, my ride was at an end, and probably for the better. To tell you the truth I was dreading what Chas had in store for us, and i was ready to be on a solo ride with shitbike on a trail in the park. I fashioned a single speed out of the broken chain and cassette, pocketed my derailleur and wondered how I was going to get home. The group didn’t care much how I was going to do that, and they were gone in a flash, off to create more mess-life blog gospel of “that day we got 40 flat tires and hospitalized half our crew because we did such an epic ride.”
In all the commotion that was around me, I had lost the point of what I was doing that day. I wanted to go out and have fun on two wheels, make an adventure out of a day. I was caught up in the fear of the ride, the pressure of keeping up with the break-neck speeds and the embarrassingly obvious exclusion from the group. So I sit alone on the trail, hands blackened by the grease of my chain, legs burning from the ride to Pacifica, thinking of how shitty a situation this was. I turn around a make my way down the hill. For the first time on the ride, I noticed the breeze, and the sound of my tires rolling over the ground. The joy of riding quickly came back to me as I rushed back down the hill on my new shitbike. I start skidding corners and jumping ledges, not having to keep up with anybody or worry about who was on my ass. I stop and enjoy the scenery, fog rolls over the hills and through Pacifica, you can hear the ocean smell the air. This was the adventure I was waiting to have.
I take it slow from then on, enjoying myself completely. I descend like a mad man and got back to the road in no-time. It was a hard 20 miles back to the city with only one gear, but a beautiful day to ride. Once back in the city, I stop by Devil’s Teeth Bakery to refuel. And it was just my luck they only had brownies to gorge myself on. I rode down the beach ’til I hit the park and decided to fulfill my first plan. Once my tires hit the first trail, excitement rushed through my veins and the woes of the morning faded. I mashed and mashed, hitting as many trails I could remember and trying to find the ones I had never ridden before. After a solid session of dirt trails in the park I felt as though that is what I should have been doing all along.
Remember why you are on the bike, don’t be afraid to try new rides but turn around when you know that reason is moot.
Bad luck is often a blessing in disguise, don’t stress.
Road bike plus dirt works, but is not always recommended- get a cross bike.
Riding anything over 20 miles on single-speed is not worth is, gears were invented for a reason.
the n+1 rule applies to shitbikes too! I’m up to 2.