Rainy muni and undampened enthusiasm

Yesterday (June 3, 2007), my riding buddy Rolandisimo and I went for a muni ride. The weather was iffy all day, so we consulted weather maps and tried to time our ride in between the moving blobs of rain on the radar maps.

It was sprinkling just a bit when I picked him up at 4PM, and we drove a short way to a seldom used trailhead. The trail here starts on a boardwalk which loops for maybe a kilometer, with a single spur on the north side which feeds into a nebulous system of wooded singletrack.

The boardwalk pitches, banks and rolls its way through a small forest with swamps and small hills, and quickly brought to mind a wooden roller coaster as we swooped around it on our KH24s. We had planned to split off onto the trails, but the boardwalk was so much fun we did a whole loop before finally spinning around again to the north end and off into the unimproved trails.

The rain increased to a convincing drizzle as we headed into the forest paths. These are seldom ridden, as evidenced by plenty of overhanging, spider-webbed, and now quite damp branches to push through. The first of these gave us wet slaps, shocking as our clothes were still mostly dry.

The moisture actually firmed up the ground in its many sandy places, but where the trail wound though a swamp, the rain was having the opposite effect. The mud had no ruts in it to indicate its depth, so several attempts to ride though puddles led to the wheel sinking way past the rim and stopping dead, launching us unceremoniously off our seats. After a bit of that fun, the path became quite rooty and lumpy, and, between rolling obstacles and jumping off them, we were having such a hopping good time that we didn’t notice the rain becoming more steady.

We broke out into a big field between the highway and the Albany airport which had sandy highs and swampy and hummocky lows. The rain had become what we had to admit was quite heavy and any part of our clothing which had managed to remain dry to that point was now completely saturated. We mused upon how unskilled we both were at interpreting radar weather patterns as we circled around the field looking for a path re-entering the forest.

As we plunged though one soaked-vegetation-laced dead end after another, Roland kept saying “Maybe this is it…no, maybe it’s here” until his credibility was completely gone. The good side was that we didn’t mind slapping through drenched leaves anymore as we could get no wetter than we already were. The bad side was that each time we regrouped to discuss directions we were enveloped in clouds of ravenous mosquitoes. Finally we found a slightly more convincing opening into the woods and, glad to be moving smoothly away from the bugs, we enthusiastically dove in, Roland mumbling something about not thinking this was the right path.

Right or wrong, we pedaled through what might have started as a path but was quickly becoming just a ride though untracked, boggy woods by the path of least resistance. Soon, however, there was no least resistance, only more, and, at that point we notice a clearing off to one side. No longer able to ride, we pushed the unis out of the woods and onto the grounds of a local middle-school, making some haste to avoid donating more blood to insect-kind.

We emerged onto a corner of the middle-school’s fields and rode past several soccer matches in progress, the sidelines dotted with hundreds of colorful umbrellas protecting the spectators from the now driving rain. At least we knew where we were now, and we enjoyed the gapes and surprised exclamations from the players and fans alike.

We found our way out of the school grounds at another corner, where a trail led us back to the fun, rooty section, and we re-rode that twice more, just because it was such a sheer blast. After we passed through those difficulties, Roland hit a patch of sand and sustained a nasty UPD, with one of the worst pedal bites I’ve seen in my uni career.

Then we zipped back along the boardwalk and arrived at my truck, with drenched clothes and pruned fingers. Roland said he was glad I’m willing to entertain such outrageously gnarly conditions and I thanked him kindly and returned the compliment.

When I dropped him off, his 4 year-old son was quite impressed with our sogginess and muddiness. When I got home, the hot shower and cold beer topped off a surprising epic ride.

Sounds like some ‘proper’ (if incredibly soggy) ride. The best thing about getting soaking wet is that you can’t get any wetter, so the rain doesn’t matter any more.

Anyway, sounds like you had great fun.

Great write-up.

Excellent, many thanks for taking the time to write this up. It helps with those days when I can’t get out to ride.

You can’t beat a cold beer after some hard muni :slight_smile: