I posted this is the So Cal Forum but thought you oldsters would get a kick. Kathy is 55, I am 60. Just because you are older does not mean you are wiser!
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So… Kathy had scheduled a mountain bike ride with the Trail Angels to ride Maple Springs to Santiago Peak but that got cancelled due to impending rain. So… Kathy and I decided just to do a leisurely cruise up to 4 Corners (16 miles round trip). If the weather got bad, we were going to turn back. At the trail head for Maple Springs several cars full of riders left about the same time we did. They were much faster than I so they were off and gone like a shot leaving Kathy and I to enjoy the Canyon Climb all alone.
I have a love-hate relationship with Maple Springs. It’s beautiful; all of it but those first 4 miles or so (3 on pavement and first on dirt) are really rough for this fat, old lady. Everyone started off riding with multiple layers. Me too but by the time I hit the dirt I was down to gloves, a jersey (thermal layer beneath) and road shorts. At that I was warm and getting warmer as we climbed. About a mile up the dirt, where the trail is steepest (a friend says 17%), we stopped. I felt a rain drop. We continued on. We (OK I) pushed on and on, grinding, putting every effort into continuing. I thanked the fact it was cool making the effort easier for me but… every now and again there would be this gust of freezing air signaling impending doom.
About 5 miles up, the other riders started coming down. Faster than us they had already made it to the top. They told us it was really raining hard and the wind was freezing. “Ah OK. Have a nice ride down!” We pushed on. More riders came down, each with a story of sideways rain and freezing air. We pushed on. Thankfully the trail “levels” out at about 5 miles and the scenery gets beautiful. The sycamores were all changing colors so that was lovely to see but the mist was getting heavily and the air was getting colder. I started to notice large yellow puddles and in those puddles I saw rain drops, lots of them. Mmmm I could not feel them climbing but obviously the rain was getting heavier. Kathy was stopped and we run into someone coming down who told us about the rain. He noted we were probably 10 minutes from 4 Corners. I figured for me that means another 45 minutes of climbing but we pushed on.
Now Kathy is up ahead, how far I don’t know but now it is definitely raining and it was getting colder. I was soaked through and through. I mean even the bike shorts were dripping wet. Finally I catch up with Kathy who had pulled over and was changing her clothes; putting on all she had. She was smart. She brought winter gloves, toe warmers, a face mask, rain jacket etc. I put on wet arm warmers and my long sleeve jersey, which was wet. I tried to put on the leg warmers but just didn’t have the coordination.
At the point we turned back, it was hard to ride down fast ‘cause 1) going fast means getting cold(er), 2) the trail was now very wet, with small riverlets, puddles and mud and 3) I could not see. I wore my prescription glasses which were now spotted with rain drops and mud splatters. I got down on “feel” alone which was maybe a good thing. As Kathy and I started down we both got so cold… I mean mind-numbing cold. We came across some hikers coming up and Kathy got the giggles thinking “Good lord, someone stupider than us!!!!” Finally Kathy stopped and asked me if I had any other clothes and then offered me her fleece gloves. Talk about heaven sent. Of course I was so cold I had trouble getting them on. Finally warm gloves on we took off and did what we could to get back. Once I hit that pavement I was going for it. My only thought was to get back to the car and be done with this god-forsaken ride. Funny coming down my brain would be mumbling “cold, cold, cold…. Oooohhh pretty…cold, cold, cold”. Every now and again there would be this burst of color in all the gray and drab. It's really sad when a steep 7 mile downhill is not fun!
Back at the car all Kathy and I could do was lift up the tail gate and just stand there out of the rain. Neither of us could function well. I took off my wet outer layer and jersey and stood there in the cold in my bra. I didn’t care who saw me. Thankfully I had 2 dry fleece tops to put on OVER MY WET SPORTS BRA ugh! I also was stuck with soaking wet shorts. With the heat blasting in the car Kathy and I made it to John’s for lunch. I ordered, sat down and could not stop shivering. I’m sure the nicely dressed church folks thought Kathy and I a mess. Both of us had to sit on towels cause our butts were so wet! When the meal came, I could barely lift a fry to my mouth as my hands were still shivering. We ate and left. I went home, drew a hot bath and laid in it for 15 minutes. I put on my fluffiest robe, grabbed the cat and he and I napped until 6pm. Woke up, ate, watched a movie and was asleep again by 8.
Man good times…good times!