Friday, March 06, 2009

Marshall-Chileno Valley

During the first few Grasshoppers I was working in West Marin. One year school was canceled no fewer than ten days due to flooding. Flooding you ask? We all know about the challenge of living near the Russian River in the Winter but how about Stemple Creek and Walker Creek? Although there are no homes flooded in the area roads are severely affected...depending on the tide. It's not often that I check the high tide times when heading out for a road ride. Tomorrow I won't. 7 years ago we did. Had been raining hard, really hard and it was know that only a few warriors would show up for the day. Nothing cancels a Hopper so we threw on our capes for the standard 10 o'clock departure and headed South. The years are mixed up so sorry if I forget anyone. Seems we had me, Geo., Kevin, Ray, Emil, Erin Timmel, (Think he was still a Mud Puppy)Devon Vigus,Duncan and Yuboat? Jason Matthias, maybe a couple from the Pink Palace, not sure. Made it down the Valley Ford/Freestone cutoff with the water lightly lapping at the side. Silt covered the road from the last high tide. Water line East of Valley Ford was at about 2 feet. This was when a V.W. bug passed us in the other lane. Think is was Timmel who took a swim and headed home, maybe it was Yuri. Something about a mechanical and being soaked from the ears to the a-hole with 3 hours to go. Funny thing is it never rained this day, at least not much. From what I recall was an uneventful day, except from the obligatory leg-ripping of friend and foe that the Hoppers are know for. These gatherings are the epitomy of tough love. The excitement happened when Middle Rd. nears road...just wetland. Well of course there was a road somewhere. What a blast! A two person pace line of worried soldiers knifing through the water; a new method of drafting;riding the wake. Devon hit a pot hole and was completely submerged. He was perhaps the strongest of the group so it was a tough decision, should we wait for him? Emil said we should attack but I talked them all in to letting him find his bike, remount, and join the parade. Climbed out of the lagoon only to hit the river leaving Valley Ford. High tide had hit. When the creek along Freestone/Vly Ford jumps the bank it flows downhill, as do most creeks, streams and rivers. We needed to go up. It spreads accross the entire road so that there is no sign of auto pathway. This was one of these times. When the tide is high and the Estero swells the water has to go somewhere. There are Willow on both sides to mark the boundaries but it's best to ride in the middle of the road. There we were, four or five of the select few, no cars to worry about, riding uphill, upstream towards the finish. I believe there were trucks at each end of the flood waiting, just thinking about it as a gaggle of lycra-clad bike geeks came rippin' up stream. Don't remember who won, wasn't me as I've finished second twice on this stage without winning. Am I cruel to hope for the return of the Floodhopper? Perhaps, but then again maybe not. The harder it is to get out of your warm flannel sheets the more cosmic-karmic tough guy/girl points you get!
Were you there? What do you remember? Did this really happen?


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