October 9, 2004: Friends of Tamarancho

"The singletrack trails at Camp Tamarancho are on private property, owned by the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts. Cyclists are guests at this facility. The Boy Scouts have given permission to ride on their property, if riders buy an annual, or day pass, and sign a release. People who ride the camp, without a pass, jeopardize this program for everyone else. If you don't want to pay to ride your mountain bike, that;s fine, just ride somewhere else."

So says the Application to Ride Singletrack Loop form found at the trailhead.

Now, you might think such regulatory language might rankle Cannonball's scruff, but they're right, and it's worth it. Tamarancho, chosen by Bike Magazine as one of the "Fifteen Great Riding Areas" in America, is a delightful singletrack trail that includes one the greatest climbing singletrack uphills you could ever hope to ride. It's worth $5 to ride it. And it's not a bad idea for the future of trail riding. Land is disappearing, and this could be one way to keep trails available in the greater Bay Area.

That said, I've ridden here a few times and have yet to pay for the privilege. Flaming hypocritical, two-faced, flip-flopping bastard. You're right, but my intentions are good. Before I next ride Tamarancho, I will buy an annual pass, I promise. Of the four or five times I've ridden Tamarancho, I've never once seen a marshal or been asked to show a pass. Today was the first time. A nice old guy in a truck asked very nicely if we had the passes. I told him I had the application (which I did) and pointed out Romulus' tag hanging off his camelback. He was cool and it was cool. That's the way to handle things, not the condescending, inflexible, alienating approach taken by the Park Ranger at Skeggs earlier this summer. Respect and courtesy make cooperation and enjoyable coexistence possible. We saw lots of other riders out there today, and they all had passes. It can work.

It was a sunny day, a bit windy, but perfect temperature for the initial seven-mile climb. I didn't get much sleep last night, and I didn't have my best stuff, but it was great to be out there with Romulus. Haven't seen him in a couple of weeks (See September 11, 2004: Beyond Category (HC)), and it was nice to catch up.

About halfway up the hill, I came across a set of narrow planks, maybe a foot wide, linked together end-to-end and raised off the ground in an obstacle course. At it's highest point, the plank bridge was maybe three feet off the ground. I took a quick look and decided to go for it. Got on OK and made the first two planks. Then I headed up the incline to the highest point of the bridge. I made this fine and was concentrating on not looking down as I covered the 10 feet to the decline, when suddenly, the whole bridge gave way and it, the bike, and I seemed to fall to the ground in slow motion. Clunk, we hit the ground and I stumbled off to the right, dragging Blue into a bush. What the . . .

Turns out the high point of the plank bridge was actually an inverse teeter-totter that collapses toward the ground in a V shape as riders cross it. I felt a little better about my biff, and resolved to try again. I tried two more times, but I just couldn't commit to the speed needed to make it. Next time.

It really does exist . . .
Cannonball totters on the teeter
Hanging out on the trail

I was pretty unsteady again today. I'm just not feeling Blue right now, but that's OK. There's plenty of time to get reacquainted. Romulus was hampered by a twingy hammy, the result of his domination of a flag football game at a company picnic yesterday, and by a chattering drivetrain. In fact, the chattering drivetrain ended up cutting short the ride.

We had been riding the final uphill of the first lap for a mile or so when I got to a shaded area and pulled off to get a snack and wait for Romulus, who should have only been about 10 seconds back. A couple of minutes went by and no sign of him. A couple more minutes. Uh-oh. I headed back and found him only about 50 yards down the trail. He had the bike upside down and was looking at the rear derallier. Uh-oh. I looked at it. It was completely mangled -- the hanger was bent and the derallier bracket itself had broken, leaving the rear derallier attached to the bike by the cable and chain only. Uh-oh. We had only one choice. Take off the derailler, take a few links out of the chain, and make it a singlespeed.

This is the kind of fix you always read about in Bicycling under "12 quick fixes to get you home" or "5 trailside repairs that will amaze your friends." We were almost excited about it. Could it be done? Would we be able to get it rideable? Fortunately, we were almost done with the loop trail and what we had left was primarily downhill. Still, it was a challenge.

Well, we got the derallier off and got the chain resized, but we didn't pull out enough links and it was imperfect at best. Romulus could pedal the bike, but only when there was zero torque on the chain. Otherwise it would sag down and ultimately get wedged at the bottom of the cassette. We debated stopping and pulling out a few more links, but Rom said we were almost there, so we pushed on and quickly made it down the hill. Coming through Fairfax, I gave Romulus a rolling push to get him over a couple of small hills. That's teamwork.

On the way home, Romulus and I discussed our compatibility and the hope that we can find some like-minded riders to build up a riding pack. Yeah, we're cool, with life.


Mileage: 12.66 Time: 1:39:02 Avg: 7.6 Max: 25.5 Weight: 

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