I left San Diego today with multiple thorns in my left arm, clumps of mud in my hair, a broken spoke, and a 26'' tube in my front tire (I rode a 29er hardtail today). I was unbelievably tired and we didn't even get to ride all 49.5 miles of the course we set out to conquer at 7:30 this morning, and all the suffering wasn't even for a race!
Sometimes being stubborn and persistent is an attribute, like 90 miles into 130 mile BWR when you want so badly to give up but know that if you keep going for 40 more miles you could possibly win. Or the time we were all strewn along the dirt roads in Calabassas at the Pedal's Fork Dirt Fondo, wiping mud off our tires, riding 10 feet and then repeating it, bu then rewarded with hero dirt on the second half of the ride. Today though, my stubborness was not an attribute, and Carl and I took the suffering a little past where we needed to on what was supposed to be a fun group ride turned ugly by unfortunate weather.
The plan was to ride from Hatch Cyclery in Leucadia (just north of San Diego) up through the awesome network of country roads and rad bike trails to Black Mountain and back on the first TASCO Sea to Mountains to Sea ride.
What should have been a super fun day of exploring some new dirt, riding with friends old and new, and a little good natured suffering started out on the questionable side when it started to legitimately rain on the drive down at 6am. We were blissfully ignorant though, with bagels and coffee in hand, blasting down I-5 thinking it was just some heavy June Gloom that would clear up by 8am.
We set off to ride with a group of about 30 rad dudes and a few ladies, still optimistic about the weather, all excited and anxious at the same time. then i got a flat maybe 3 miles in. Poo. My tire had no sealant, of course, and one bad tube later we were cramming in a 26'' tube Carl was carrying into a very wet 29'' tire. The tiny tube worked and maybe 10 minutes later Carl and I were cruising along again, the group somewhere up the road (they all assumed we would catch them).
One of the most exciting parts of the day was that Brendan decided to come ride with us, maybe because I promised him there would be a contingent of the ride who wanted to ride a mellow pace, and an overall shorter route. We caught up to and then passed Brendan's group all smiles and laughs, and soon Carl and I were on our own again trying to catch the faster group.
The first dirt portion of the ride was rad. Fun, unexpectedly techy singletrack in a suprisingly rural feeling open canyon. I had loaded the route onto my Garmin, so we were fine with directions, kinda. Only problem was us not being locals we didn't realize that the dirt we were on was going to turn into clay, and when mud did start to pack up on our tires we didn't know how to exit the route to pavement to save ourselves about an hour of pushing super heavy mud laden bikes across ever muddier dirt roads. We ended up stopping multiple times to wipe mud from our tires, away from our fork legs and out of out bottom bracket areas. Carl kept dropping his chain and in my stubbornness I ended up riding maybe 10 miles of pushing through ridiculous resistance, stopping only a few times when the wheels refused to continue turning.
Then, when we finally decided this was not worth it, we popped out at a park where a nice man had bacon and coffee! What an off, kinda awesome oasis to discover when you are soaking wet, covered in mud and starting to question all your life's decisions.
While Carl cleaned his bike I ate about 10 pieces of bacon, drank 3 iced coffees, and cursed a bunch about the weather, this was JUNE after all!
Some other riders from our group did eventually arrive at the 'aid station', but when we learned that no one else planned on continuing the ride Carl and I cruised out to ride back to the ocean on pavement. We only missed a small portion of the route (on the way out), and probably missed all the good singletrack, but heck, now we have a reason to come back!
And so, after getting lost and accidentally riding to La Jolla (adding about 8 un-necessary miles) Carl and i returned to Hatch around 11am to find almost the whole group, clean and happy chatting about the day over beers and more iced coffee. After much bike washing there was a raffle, for a free ride, with free raffle tickets we didn't even complete the whole ride to earn! Carl left stoked with a new pair of gloves and sunglasses, and Brendan and I left happy with a ridiculous memory of the wettest ride in June in Socal that we will one day tell our children about.
On the drive home we decided that we have had enough good luck, perfect weather, great mechanical-less days, and that every once in a while a ridiculous day with mud and flats and bent teeth on your chainring makes the flawless days that much sweeter. And heck, we still got to hang out with the raddest North County group of shredders... and bacon.