Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by Burlingame State Park on the way home to get in a little bit of singletrack. Perfect day for it – sunny, 40’s, and the ground was pretty dry.
As I was leaving the beach parking lot, two other bikers passed me. I fiddled around with my bike a bit more, and left, noticing the cleat on my left shoe was way, way out of position and more than a little loose. “Eh,” I thought, “fix it when we get back.”
From the beach, there’s no singletrack for about a mile – just a two lane road. Just before we got to the trail, I caught and passed the two riders. One was on a high-zoot Merlin titanium hardtail, the other on a nice full suspension rig. Nods and waves were passed.
I turned onto the trail just after passing them, got to the first real obstacle, a log across the trail, and
Then, trying to get back up, my left cleat wouldn’t disengage, so I kind of wallowed around a bit.
The guy on the full rig stopped after he cleared the log to make sure I was all right.
“I’m Larry” he said. “Have you ridden here before?”
“No”, I mumbled. “But I’ve got a map from the Internet.”
“Well, you’re welcome to ride with us.”
So I did. Or tried to – “with” is a relative word, right? The trail was brutal. If I made 100 yards without falling or having to dismount (again, with a sticky left cleat) I was pleased.
After about 40 minutes, Larry came riding back down the trail just to make sure I was still alive. I acknowledged, and apologized for the string of vulgarities and epithets that were spoiling a quiet afternoon in the woods. “No problem” he said. “Just up ahead here, it gets a whole lot easier and we’ll point you back to your car.”
“Thanks” I said.
At a junction, we stopped for a minute. Larry lent me an allen wrench to take off my left cleat, which had lost a bolt by this time. “Hey, you’re bleeding. Extra points for that,” he chuckled.
“Yeah, chicks dig scars” I said.
The ride back down a different trail, was, as Larry had promised, much easier. But, having spent the better part of an hour lying beside the trail with my bike on top of me, my confidence was shot. When I tried, I cleared, but I didn’t try as often as I usually would.
Back at the car, I took inventory
– Bent seat
– Skinned both knees
– Deep muscle bruise on left thigh
– Skinned elbow on the left side
– Bruised ego
But, the ride was good, the endorphins were pumping, and I’m still happy to be alive.
Huge thanks to Larry and his riding partner – I was woefully unprepared, and in over my head, and a complete stranger, but they showed phenomenal hospitality to a total Fred. I need to be a better person.