Tuesday, September 19, 2006
pick apart the day
I looked around my room trying to figure out why there was music playing. My ipod had somehow chosen 'Daylight' by Aesop Rock to rouse me. While a poignant theme, daylight it was not; it was in fact a completely dark and uncivilized 530am out there. My pondering the lack of daylight was interrupted suddenly by the Nokia vibrating angrily on my bed side table while screaming out its increasingly louder alien theme song. "That must be Dylan calling me as promised." It's moments like these that I wonder "What did I agree to and why?" I usually pace in circles around my room for a few minutes trying to gather thoughts and equipment before I remember the answer: riding bikes because we have some of the best terrain on the planet.
My phone rings on my trek across town to pick up Dylan breaking the calm that I had on loan from the pre-dawn San Fran streets. It's Dylan, he's letting on about how he's not gonna make the ride -that he's gonna have to bail. He's a funny guy, I know he's joking but a small part of me is getting ready to restrain the other even smaller part that would reach through the phone to smack him upside the head if he's not -he is. After a quick rally in front of Noah's Bagels, we throw his recently shined up Blur on the roof and make for the highway -time to call Cohen to reassure him that the city kids are en route and that we didn't oversleep.
Dylan and I arrived in the parking lot a whole 15 minutes before we agreed to meet up with Cohen. This is a good thing because I'm slow. Dylan made good on this time with a display of balance and grace while I futzed around with my elaborate ankle brace.
While killing time, I decide to share with Dylan how crazy it was that 'Daylight' was the first track of my day, but he would have none of it. He kept saying something about how the production was really good, '...but when Aesop comes in, it just sucks...' I try to reason with him, but we were clearly at an impasse:
Luckily Cohen arrives just in time to get us back on track with Sparky who's also rarin to hit the trails. Having all decided to go with long sleeves to counter the brisk morning air, we eagerly set out for California's finest singletrack, the whole reason for early rise, for hauling gear from house to car, and the mad dash for the trails -the main event. This excitement always hits me the moment my mallets engage, my wheels and frame becomes an appendage; I get all hopped up on goofballs and bounce up and down on my suspension while rolling to the trailhead.
Once inside the El Corte de Madera grounds, Cohen let Sparky off the leash and we burned a mile or two of fire road keeping a moderate pace. Dylan led the way down the first stretch of glorious singletrack, the infamous Resolution Trail. For the next 20-30 minutes we continued our descent into the bowels of Skeggs over rocks and roots, under low hanging branches, catching air off the occasional whoops. The little sun that had risen fades behind trees the lower we go making it harder to distinguish the morning from what could otherwise be mistaken for evening. The air was pungent with the smell of dead leaves and moss; I'm sure of this because I'd started to suck more of it. I swear the trails must be growing denser; my GPS kept protesting with little beeps to warn me that it couldn't hold a signal. Our ride data bears no resemblance to other days.
Before long we reach the stream at what I've always considered the bottom of Skeggs -I've been told I'm wrong. No matter though for now it was time to pay off the elevation debt that we had been so recklessly accruing for the past half hour spending altitude like water, time to get lost in whatever might be on our respective minds, time to raise the seat and drop the fork, time to get your crayons and your pencils. If this were Burger King I'd have had it my way, but alas it was time to climb. I only cast in a negative light what all mountain dirt riders must come to respect and hopefully for their sake, cherish because on this day, it is the last I'll see of my bro's on the trail. Dylan felt the need for a head start and Cohen, well, Cohen's our token single-speeder -need I say more? I was riding the back of the pack so I affectionately referred to myself as 'the sweeper' for the rest of the ride.
The climb out of our loop at Skeggs is broken into 3 sections in my mind. The first, a series of brutally steep, but not very technical double track sections has a special spot where we almost lost Peter. The second is a stretch of fire road connecting the first and third sections that most have agreed to be unpleasant. The third section is Manzanita, a glorious rocky, rooted, rutted singletrack stretch ripe with sessionable spots to keep the mind sharp while the chest pounds out the beat of your favorite swedish death metal song. I spent my all on the first section, specifically a series of rolls that I've heard referred to as the '7 Sisters', '7 Witches', or '7 Bitches'... I cant be sure, but after cleaning the last roll I'm convinced it's the last of the 3. There was not much left in my tank for the rest of the ride. I don't think I left my granny gear until reaching dry pavement all the while the phrase repeated in my head "next time I'll have my mojo back.."
...Oh yeah, Cohen and Dylan were waiting in the parking lot for me.