40+ riders showed up Saturday for what turned out to be a hard, but not quite epic day. The early morning flooding on Hwy 1 South of Tomales and Valley Ford Cutoff were down to just a few inches by the time we arrived. Was kinda hoping for an upstream finish, just for the story books. No time for me to warm up and I assumed (wrongly so) that people would start out more mellow since we were a smaller group. Numbers were down from last years 300+ and noticeably lacking was the full Bissel team along the Cal Giant and the days' fastest rider Andrew Talansky. Though I had hoped for a mellow start I know our dedicated NorCal group and had no doubts that the days' group had showed up to serve a heapin' helpin' of tough love. I surprisingly made it to Hwy 1 with the main group and thought I'd get a nice tow to Valley Ford. I tucked into the middle, then drifted near the back, then the VERY back and then on my own. I didn't bury myself too deep to hold on and hoped the Boyler and Kent would do me the kind favor of picking me up. No luck. I rode from the riser past Bay Hill turnoff to Tomales Bay solo. Luckily managed to catch up to Colby Pastore and Scott Nydam's brother (Bob?) and hung with them until we picked up another cracked threesome on the flats approaching Wilson Hill. We enjoyed the wind to our back, especially since I knew we'd be paying for it as we headed west on Chileno Valley. Jim Keene and NorCal gave us a sweet water and food hand-up at the base of the climb and onto the long march back to Joy. Our group of 6 worked well together and didn't come apart until Middle. We lost one on the decent and then another on the little climb up out of Freestone Cut off. Myself, Royce and Colby took turns to Joy and then finished with a solid climb up the devils back. Picked up Matthias who was struggling to ride his 39x17 due to a broken rear cable. Overall the ride was a great reminder of the parallels of biking to the bigger challenges of life's ups and downs: High in making the split. Low; being dropped and spending "forever" alone. Dreading the headwind and considering the comfort of a warm coffee shop. High, catching a group and to ride with, safe challenging ride the rest of the way home. No major cramps up Joy. Was a pleasure to be out with friends again and see smiling faces at the finish. Until next time.