“It’s not a party till something gets broken,” Jen said with a questioning tilt in her voice and a large smile. This after she’d jumped and skirted around far too many sharp rocks for my very bald tires to handle. Kirk was visibly exasperated, sweat pouring down his forehead in rivers, heat and sun baking his eyes as he blinked and squinted to keep the moisture from skewing his vision. My tires were busted again and this was an all-too-familiar scene.
Jen, who, I must say, does her best to care for me when she finds the time, proudly handed Kirk an inner tube to replace the damaged one. I was resting against the wooden frame of the bridge leading to the vast fire roads of Mt. Tamalpais, anxious to get going and needing a quick repair. Mountain bikes flew by and I watched them snicker at us, the two road bikes. “How dare you attempt this road. That’s what you get,” said the black Gary Fisher with indignation and pride.
The energy of the situation shifted from annoyed diligence to utter disgust as I heard Kirk say to Jen “That’s it. You’re off the team. This is a mountain bike tube. I’m revoking your membership. My god, there’s only about 30 pounds of air pressure in these. When’s the last time you put air in them? And, I told you these tires would only last for Tahoe. You haven’t gotten new ones yet?”
And I have to wonder why ex-couples attempt to play with one another after they break up? Why not just stay away? Yet, Kirk and Jen, those passionate riders, have taken me on some of the craziest adventures and I knew that this was just a part of the latest one. So what we were only two miles into the ride and had just approached what I considered to be the gates to heaven. Flats were a necessary element to any good time. It means we’re all working beyond our capabilities; trying new things.
Luckily for all of us, Kirk is a bike maintenance genius. He patched up my snakebites –- there were four total- and pumped up my tires to a respectable 70 pounds. And we were off.
The spring rains hadn’t been too kind to the Four Corners trails towards Lake Lagunitas. Jen pulled me up the dirt grade and maneuvered me right and left and in between deep dirt ruts and exposed rocks; stopping only to catch her breath or drink water. Kirk was just ahead; Jen and I on his tail. He yelled back, “You got it Jen ‘Do-or-Die’ Dalton. This is the last of it.” We pulled and pushed and pushed and pulled up the dirt, our momentum sending waves and flurries of dirt through my spokes and surely into Jen’s mouth, coating her teeth. Finally, we reached the paved road that provided access to the trail around Lake Lagunitas.
Jen and I loved those paved downhills. My tires hugged the road and like a bird in the air, I swooped around the corners and we flew. There was a lightness and freedom as a result of all our uphill work. And the downhill, past grazing deer and under scavenging turkey vultures amidst a landscape of mountainous redwoods, gave us the leg up we needed to climb the little hill that leads to the loop around the lake.
The trail was obviously designed for mountain bikes and hikers. About three-and-one-half feet wide, some exposed tree roots and packed mounds of dirt. Jen and I jumped all over that. We traveled fast and careful to avoid the few hikers we passed. A small and short redwood bridge was ahead of us in the shade. It crossed a long rocky stream with about five inches of water. Intuitively Jen and I went right for the rocks and water and counter to our intention of easily and gracefully succeeding the cross, we fell over and got wet. Jen’s knee collided with a sharp rock and that soft fleshy part of her hand just under the thumb with my handlebar brake mechanism. I was fine.
Didn’t feel a thing. Not a scratch. She got right up and hopped back on.
It was then Kirk, who’d been quietly recovering from the earlier frustration, reinstated her membership to the biking club and the Lake Lagunitas Dirt Romp was on. I suppose the first fall of the day brought with it a feeling of courage that didn’t exist prior, because we took some pretty hairy jumps afterward. It’s not that we got a lot of air, maybe a few inches or so, but that we did it.