The text came early, “Not my kinda bike morning. I’m out.” It was only misting when I rolled out of the garage, and I adjudged my ride partner a lily-livered fool. “This will be fine,” I thought.
You already know how this story goes, of course.
The mist became drizzle. The road surface went from dark to marbled to fully wet. I rode on, because that’s what you do. “Maybe it’ll clear, and anyway I’m already out,” I reasoned.
The weather continued to weather, water running down along the brim of my cap, my ankles churning in a steady spray. That’s when I said ‘screw it’ and turned into the woods. Sometimes when you’ve made the wrong call the only thing to do is double down.
The trail ducked and bobbed along a hillside. The downward pitches turned my brakes into something more like slowing suggestions rather than actual stopping devices. At one point, I ran off the trail, unable to drop enough speed to make a corner. These are the vagaries of riding road bikes in the woods.
For the better part of an hour I strung sections of trail together, winding back along the paths kids use to get home from school more slowly than a direct route might allow, snaking over toward the reservoir and then grinding the dirt track that rings its murky shallows, nodding good morning to people out walking their dogs, each of them serving up that baffled expression that says, “Why are you here?”
I rode home. In the driveway I pulled my waterbottle and did my best to hose down the critical parts, caked as they were with mud and the droppings of the springtime woods. My kit was a shambles. I smiled.
I’ve been dirtier. I’ve been wetter. And oddly, I’ve never regretted it.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what’s the dirtiest you’ve ever gotten on a bike? The wettest? I can recall some pretty soaking wet commutes over the years. I remember some muddy crashes that left me looking like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. It always ups the ante when you mix blood into the dirt. I went yardsale into a stream once and lay there in the gentle current while the dog whimpered and licked my face. How could you regret that?