My original intent when purchasing my bike was to ride the flatlands of Chico. There are many bike trails and more than a few parks to ride through. In spring and fall, plus parts of winter, these trails can be absolutely gorgeous. I leave out summer because nothing, save perhaps beef stew and brownies, is gorgeous when it is over 100 degrees. What really happened is that, like most things, I’d not considered everything in my intent. I’m a master – absolute zen freakin’ master – at the middle-level of detail. Nothing above this level escapes my notice or commentary. Likewise, my attention to detail when it comes to planning often finds the minutia lacking. So I’d not considered things like: how to transport the damn bike, the cost of going down and back, how I would dress for that portion of the trip or how long those trips would take.
Naturally, I didn’t account for these because these details – and knowledge of myself and how much I hate all the prep work involved in things (fuck getting ready – let’s dance!) while strangely enough loving the ritual of all things preparatory – would have made the dream of riding in Chico out to be a personal nightmare.
Still, I wanted to try out riding the flats after finding the hills both fun and challenging. I figured then the flatlands, with the lack of needing to climb, would be just plain fun. Again, that lack of attention to the smaller details would damn me. The devil, as they say, is in the details.
Get all the gear together for the ride – helmet, shirts, layers of pants (tights and sweats), shoes. Get a separate batch of clothes for after. Don’t want to walk around in sweaty nastiness after, right? Grab bike, throw it up in the bed of the truck, pull front wheel (why do they call these quick release when they still require all the work?) and lock the forks into the fork mount. Toss the front wheel in the back seat. Check again (giving knowledge of my lack of attention to detail) that I have things like wallet and iPhone. Proceed down Skyway.
1 gallon of gas and $4.20 less rich, reverse process. Get back in cab, slip off jeans, throw on sweats. Put on headphones and get proper app going. Helmet on. Check out bike. Make sure front wheel is actually on, given that I took it off. No wiggle. Get on bike. Worry some that truck will be here when I get back… it’s insured. So.. up to upper park or down through lower? Lower is flatter. Lower it is.
On bike, up on saddle. Off saddle, pull damn sweat pants up so they don’t catch on saddle horn again. Back up on saddle. Headphones pumping out some Pink Floyd ‘Echoes’. Strangely works. Off to the trail. Last look at what I hope is not my last look at my truck. Chicoans excel in stealing cars. Down the trail.
Bidwell is divided roughly into two pieces, lower and upper. Lower is flat and has picnic grounds. Upper is divided further into about 2/3rds of which is anything but flat and contains the dead bodies of other fat bikers who thought they could make the trails and 1/3 mostly flat. This is why I’m riding towards lower. While I’m headed for Lower, I’m parked in Upper and that’s where I’m starting. Down the trail for a bit, PF echoing (ha ha ha) in my headphones, down under the separation between Upper and Lower proper and back up the other side. Why is it that people can’t understand that bikes have to maintain the proper left/right lane deal on trails? Do the same idiots who ride on the left side of a trail also drive on the left side when they leave pavement? Puzzling.
Down the left side of the park trails. One of the two Chico Creeks (Little or Big, can’t remember which) runs through the park, dividing it further. Amazing naming convention given this is a university town, yes? Perhaps big and little, upper and lower is all the alcohol-addled brains of those students who go here could handle when naming came up. Or it was done by cowboys. Not sure. This left side has creek to the right, house backyards to the left. And large numbers of walkers, runners and riders. Some walkers have poopers, also known as dogs. I will be forced to ride through several poop piles on this ride.
Middle-level detail number one: bike is not rolling as it should. In other words, effortless. On level ground – check. Properly inflated – check. On pavement – check, check. So why is it still taking so much effort? Freakin brochure promised effortless pedaling. That was in the brochure…right? No mind. Echoes still playing – it is a long song – off again. It’s late fall and all the color is in full display. Birches and oaks line the path. So does dog poop. First pile ran through. Thank goodness for fenders. Nod hello to other males on path. Wonder for a moment if nodding to females is permitted – and why there should be a difference.
Song finally switches to Shamus. I’ve never had headphones or music while ‘working out’. When watching others, whether in my sporadic (meaning less than ten times in fifty years) trips to the gym or watching runners or cyclers, I never got the whole music while working out thing. I have no idea why. I’d never tried it myself and now that I have – nirvana. Simple as that. Just wonderful. True, I’m not pumping Judas Priest or some other ‘workout’ music (JP is workout music, right?), but I have it on the iPhone. Still Pink Floyd in my ears while riding my bike. Wow.
Keep on going while app announces that I’ve already hit 1 mile. Cool. Calorie count, compared to that of hill climbing, is way down, but so is effort. With the exception of how much perceived effort there is to keep the thing rolling. I’m used to a steady cadence while climbing – I get that. What I don’t get is why I can’t coast for ore than about 30 feet while riding the flat lands. I might change tires.
Down through the trees and now some Temple of the Dog comes on. Nice! I didn’t even know I’d set up a playlist. Although a longtime tech freak, my attention to detail often means I don’t know everything about every piece of tech I own. What fun would that be anyway? TotD is better riding music than Echoes. I get it, I get it.
Two miles. Three miles. Over the bridge just past the underpass for the freeway. The (Big or Little) Chico Creek glides silently beneath me. Silent except for the Mad Season that is now playing. Back up the trail. This side is much more popular, judging by the number of runners, walkers, moms pushing weird things that I’m guessing carry babies or toddlers or probably teenagers in this freaking lazy nation and other cyclers. I ignore those I can, weave around the others and nod to the cyclers. When I rode a Harley, we had this thing called the low wave. Left hand extended down and out as you passed. Way cool. That’s replaced by the nod for cycling. No matter how cool the bike, they are never going to approach the cool factor of a Harley. Sorry.
Five miles and six. Finally some Priest! And Maiden! Up the Irons! Seven miles. Testament playing ‘Souls of Black’. Eight miles. Never have I done eight miles. Almost back to the lower part of Upper. Down under the tube and up again. Nine miles. And there’s the Blue Mule! The truck has survived. Me too.
Off comes the front wheel, bike in the bed and hooked up to the fork holder. Gear comes off. Some water goes in. Yeah, remembered the headphones – forgot the water bottle. Wrong sense of priorities. Rest and try to look cool having just ridden….well, ridden more than I ever have. That’s an accomplishment. For me. 440 calories. Oh! and 220′ of elevation change. Huh. Didn’t know that. I’m pretty happy.
I decide to go off to the bike store and get myself a little something. Yeah, like teflon tires. Hmm. Tires.