Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Mud Ride
It began innocently enough: Ride easy for two hours, keeping the heart rate and watt output low. No problem-o Coach! Things changed, though, as soon as I left Camp Pendleton riding north towards San Clemente State Park.
I figured, what could go wrong if I added a few minutes here or there? What’s an additional 20 or 30 minutes between friends? Right? In my defense, I’ve been cooped up inside, sick, bored, and ready to go. And today was beautiful. Cloudless blue skies, brisk wind from the North, temperatures in the low 60s and, and…
I’ll stop there before my snow-bound counterparts throw up.
Or toss aside their computers in disgust.
Several minutes past the back gate of Pendleton (about an hour into my ride), I came across a tank trail. Yes, they (tanks and trails) exist. But as a Marine Corps wife, I’m fully aware that Marine Corps tanks train quite often. And the trails were fresh, meaning the big metal thingies had recently been there. Luckily, the ground wasn’t shaking and I never found myself staring down the front of an M1A2 Abrams Tank. But, the proof that they had been there recently was all around.
There was mud, everywhere. (And not just on the shoes. And yes, those are ski poles just north of my mud-encased bike shoes. I use them for my rollerskiis...)
And not just mud, but muddy water, pools of muck, and wet, moist mud all around. Inches of it, thanks to the three-days’ worth of rain that we received over the weekend. With tank trail divots everywhere, just for proof that they – scary big tanks - had been there. Super for biking with a stealthy time trial bike! Actually, it was the second or third time I had ever hoped for a mountain or cross bike. Suddenly my little tires looked way too flimsy to handle Mother Nature mixed with a little Marine Corps Tanks.
But I swallowed my fear, calmly reminding myself that pro tour cyclists ride through conditions that are much worse. Though, while slowly making my way through the tunnel under the 5, I did worry about coming face-to-face with a tank. Somehow I convinced myself that the Marine Corps would put up cones or some sort of warning system if the trail was live with tanks. At the very least they would send some little Lance Corporal to warn cyclists and others using the trail of the massive tanks waiting to cross. Yes?
Somehow I managed to not slip on the sludge and was no worse for the wear. Except for my legs, bike shoes, and bike. Covered in mud doesn’t begin to describe the sight that beheld my disbelieving eyes. Even my gears were protesting, making an unruly grinding noise with each turn of the crank.
The post ride clean would be so fun!
I used as much water as I could afford to spare to hose my bike down, and figured I would refill the bottle somewhere in the state park.
Returning, it was more of the same. Stop, look, and listen for scary tanks. Swallow my fear, gingerly pedal through several inches of muck, emerge into the light, spritz my gears with water and wash off as much mud as possible, and continue on my merry way. (And this was after the spritz!)
But I made it!
It was a great ride, and although I’m still recovering from my sinus infection, it was absolutely fantastic to be out there. Mud, tanks, grinding gears and all.
And the best part? Relaxing in the bed that I put together from IKEA. Even I surprised myself with this one folks. But it looks good and hasn’t collapsed and squished a cat yet. So all systems are go!