Monday, December 5, 2011

DATMBA 2011...

Every year for the past 6-7 years a group of us has done what we call the DATMBA (day-after-thanksgiving-mt-bike-adventure)

It started in 2004 with a crazy idea and two friends with bad judgment. It was pouring down rain and we ended up walking more than riding because the mud clogged up our cantilever brakes so bad the wheels wouldn’t turn….

From there, it’s been an annual tradition and although I don’t think it’s ever actually rained like that again, each ride brings with it, its own memories. We did Henry Coe one year when we rode across frozen puddles in the morning and were down to short sleeves by the end of the day...we did Demo where I crashed and fractured my elbow… Mt Tam where Chris, on his single speed with panniers brought an entire feast, including tablecloth and pie, Joaquin Miller where Tracy broke 3 forks trying to get one bite of pie into his mouth and this year we did China Camp…..

If you’ve never ridden China Camp, you should. It’s got a lot to offer. Although, I’ve heard its best avoided on the weekend when it can be pretty crowded. There’s a good mix of easy fire road, singletrack, some good climbs, some technical sections and even a fairly long steep paved section that will send SSers into the pain cave for a bit…

As Jerry and I started planning this and sending out the emails, we weren’t sure how many of us there would be this year. As late as Thursday morning, it looked like it would be 3…maybe 4 at the most. By Thursday evening though, we were up to about 10. Evidently people started feeling guilty about those extras pieces of pumpkin pie and wanted to try to burn them off.

The morning of, we were up to an even dozen riders with clear skies and mild temps expected for the day as we started out. A few miles we were stopped by a couple of different problems…..Bob had a new bike and was having some rear shock issues and Troy in an attempt to climb a ridiculously steep section had broken his chain….he’s claiming too much torque from his quads, I’m leaning towards old chain or bad maintenance….
Those issues resolved, we continued on up the hill. Most of the trails in China Camp are fairly wide for singletrack and the technical level is low. There is one section though where you’re riding on a pretty narrow uphill on the edge of a ravine with roots and rocks jutting here and there trying to throw you off your line.

On the SS, it’s just a matter of momentum. As long as I could keep the pace up and keep the legs pumping, things went well. There were a couple of sections though where I almost stalled out and at one point I had a pedal strike that threatened to send me off my line and over the edge. I made it though as did everyone in the lead group. We reassembled at the next intersection waited for the others to catch up…..and waited….and waited…..

Finally Troy and I decided to head back down and check on them. Several turns down the trail we came across Bob, Jerry, Brig, Pam and Angel walking up the path. Jerry was muddy pretty much head to toe and explained that his front wheel had slid off a rock, hit the wooden border to the trail and caused him to high-side over the edge sliding waaaaay down the ravine before he could stop.

Thankfully he wasn’t too badly injured but had lost his glasses and his knee was tweaked from trying to stop his slide.

As we all got back up to the regrouping spot, we decided that Nick and Troy would lead the rest of the group on the remainder of the ride and Jerry, Bob, Angel and I would head back via the shortest route possible with Jerry either coasting or walking his bike. His knee was definitely swelling up and pedaling was out of the question.

Eventually, we made it back to the parking area where the gang was gathered waiting to see what the plan was. Jerry having taken a couple of Tylenol, was actually feeling pretty ok so the normal post ride BBQ and beverages commenced.

It wasn’t till I was home later, having cleaned and lubed the bikes, showered and relaxing on the couch that it really dawned on me just how badly things could have ended. We’re actually lucky it was wet and muddy as he slid down the hill instead of tumbling. We’re lucky he only tweaked his knee and didn’t break any bones and we’re lucky that we were in a group. If someone had gone off the trail without anyone seeing it, they’d probably still be down there.

Overall, this was yet another memorable DATMBA with good friends, good weather and luckily for us, a good result to what could have been a bad situation...
I guess Oscar Wilde said it best when he said….Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.

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