I don’t know about you, but I always think I am going to stay clean and dry when I go for a bike ride. Discounting the gallons of moisture my internal furnace produces while I wrestle with my demons, I expect to arrive back to camp looking much like I did when I left.
Without at least three really good reasons, preferably in writing, I don’t go out when its raining. Unless I have advanced cabin fever, I even wait until the driveway is dry. If it’s a mountain bike ride on the card, and why wouldn't it be, I imagine the conditions will be perfect, and make up reasons to believe this concept. For example, its raining here, but the sky down that way (where the forest is) looks lighter. Even blue, don’t you think? Or, its not raining here, and it has not been all day. That dark blue-grey thing hovering over the ridge must be away down south surely?
Or, as on Sunday, an admission to self that there has been major rain as recently as just before breakfast, but there has been a bit of wind and that should dry things out. If I stick to the high ground and stay out of the trees it will be mint. Hero dirt.
Once I am out, I try to maintain the delusion. OK, a few little puddles on the first trail, it’s all good. This forestry road is almost dry! Amazing, really. And then, a trail that fits the description of the ones I am going to stick to. It is perfect! The dirt is so nice I should stop and post it on Facebook.
I bet (insert slightly-less-likely-to-be-mint trail name here) will be ok too. Let’s have a look-see. But of course, to get up there is going to mean this other trail, where conditions are a bit of a lottery.
The first part is confidence inspiring. The trail gains a big chunk of elevation, and the hurty bits are in the second half. There are a few softer patches on the way to the hairpin where the climb gets more serious, but nothing that would make a bail-out necessary. Just past the point of no return, the plot thickens. Soft, deep squishy stuff has enough grab to allow forward progress, but the drive wheel scratching for traction picks up treadfuls of mud and drags them around to the bottom of the frame, where they pile up.
Now we are dirty, damn it, and we have only been out for an hour. At this point, without another deluge we can’t get any dirtier than we already are. Like it or not, we are going to be cleaning our gear when we get home, so we might as well make the most of it.
The next couple of hours are as good as it gets. The one after that, spent dismantling the bike and picking mud out of all the parts, is not so bad either.