Well, at least it stopped raining.
That’s the first thought I had looking down at my derailleur after the pedals stopped spinning with a jolt in the middle of the woods in the Coast Range.
I thought that and, well, at least it’s not a bone sticking out of my leg or arm.
My derailleur jutted out perpendicular to the spokes on my wheel with the chain twisted around as if it were a boa constrictor that sucked the life out of it. In a word, it appeared dead.
Just moments earlier I thought I dodged a bullet. I pulled the two-inch diameter downed branch from my back wheel, where it was wedged in nice and tight. I checked out the wheel. No broken spokes! Whew! How lucky can a guy be?
I jumped back on and rolled farther down the steep singletrack. When the grade leveled off and I decided to pedal again, my luck ran out with a sound of crunching metal you hope never hear, much less this far from my ride home.
So it went, the first weekender of the year. My Golden Lab Summer and I parked the Santa Fe, unloaded my bike and started the climb in light drizzle that wasn’t in the forecast. Neither the rain that followed.
We were chugging up the first climb of the year. Having been off the bike for an off-season break with only a few short indoor trainer rides and two short sunshiny rides earlier in the week in my tank, I felt great about my fitness for the first weekender.
Hey, I wasn’t stopping. I wasn’t dying. I was climbing. Sure and steady. Breathing, not heaving.
After an hour of climbing the logging road leveled off along the ridge. I decided to treat myself to a little singletrack on the way back. The singletrack is primarily downhill, although not completely as I would soon learn.
Lifting the bike over a string of four trees downed by winter storms at the trailhead, I should have taken the hint and climbed back up to the road.
But the road was so muddy, and my Golden Lab appeared more chocolate than golden at this point, as did my shoes and pants and anything else exposed. Besides, I spent three hours trimming back the bushes on this trail in the fall for just this kinda predicament, right?
Ah, yeah, right.
You can trim the bushes back 10 feet and it wouldn’t stop big-ass branches from falling down and blocking the way, a winter ritual in Oregon forests.
If that wasn’t bad enough, someone on a horse decided to take a trip down the trail and really muddied and ripped it to shreds, not to mention crunching some branches into two parts right in the middle of the trail where they can leap up and strike a derailleur like a cobra. Hmmm, getting a lot of snake references today.
Undaunted we continued on, heading home after our incident, knowing that eventually gravity would kick in. On some stretches I could plant my left foot on the pedal and push off with my right, scootering a bit.
For the most part, though, I had to just hike the bike.
Well, at least the rain stopped.
And no bones were broken.
Time to ride.