There’s a long list of reasons to ignore or completely avoid the Super Bowl and 2016 marked the start of a possible Bay Area tradition for like-minded supporters of bikes, outdoors and the #s240 lifestyle. Given that so many sequels are better than the originals (Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 2 Fast 2 Furious, to name a few…), the stoke level was high for the 2017 version.
Yet there’s always a certain anxiety when it comes to planning a social gathering. Did I invite too many people? Did I forget some people? What if rival posse’s show up and people start beefin’? Will there be enough food? Probably (not). What about beer? Oh god, what about people who don’t drink beer?!?! To complicate matters was the rainy weather that had occurred for most of January and the meteorologists/shamans forecasting rain for the weekend of February 4th.
I had once told Manny, it doesn’t count as bailing on your own ride when no one shows up. And given the foreboding clouds on Saturday morning, I was honestly hoping that people would come to their senses and spend a nice weekend indoors. Yet as I waited at the meetup spot at the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion, my heart sank when I saw riders with nervous smiles roll in completely drenched from the morning showers.
Left with no choice but to actually proceed with the bike camping trip, I was convinced that the group would either: a) have a good time for the rest of the weekend or b) murder me Lord of the Flies style. The benefit of being soaked at the beginning of the ride was that it set relatively low expectations and that things could only go uphill from there, right?
Things did physically go uphill as we climbed up Camino Alto to Fairfax for a small lunch and grocery stop. No sooner had it stopped raining, than someone in the group would declare “looks like the weather will be good!” The typical response from the group was to stare daggers at the person who had jinxed it, as the rain would inevitably return. Being slightly cold and wet made climbing up the infamous White’s Hill slightly more bearable. A group of 20 or so wet humans and a pup made it to the campground without any major incidents. Upon reaching the campground there were many leisure activities to choose from: scouting for the best possible tent locations, chopping wood and starting fires, and enlisting in a contract of indentured servitude were all popular choices.
The great thing about the Madrone Group Site at Samuel P. Taylor is that there is a large amount of space for up to 50 (!!!) campers. Throughout the late afternoon, we had additional stragglers roll into the campground. Some groups had missed the rain showers while others encountered some fierce rains and winds. Each group of riders arrived to a chorus of cheers and invitations to join the campfire. It really surprised me the total amount of people that made the effort to join the campout despite the alternative of staying warm and toasty at home. For the rest of the evening, we oogled each other’s bikes and camping setups, attempted to expand the modular rain shelter with some tarp reinforcements, and finished the evening sharing drink and food.
Spirits were still high the next morning as mediocre espressos were served, tasty treats were made in a cast-iron wafflemaker, and tours of an impeccably decorated vanagon were given. I ended up drinking way too much #coffeeoutside amidst all the conversations and socializing. After more bike geekery and bike swapping, groups began to pack up and say their goodbyes before departing.
A few days before this camping trip, I attended an event where a performer addressed the audience at the end and stressed that “…in times like these, art is especially important.” This quote resonated with me in the days to follow, and this trip reiterated that spending time doing things you enjoy and seeing your friends is especially important in these times. Just some simple words and aspirations but something I continue to hope to do for the rest of 2017 and beyond.