The rain won in the end: Wednesday night's ride was more like mud wrestling.
Less than a mile into it, we were dirty; two miles in, we were filthy. By the time we pulled into the parking lot for wine and snacks, my legs, butt and back were nearly covered with mud. I even had flecks in my hair and on my face.
It was wonderful.
Liz and Brendan and I rode together. We practically flew across the trail, collecting sprays of mud in puddles here and there. Then we rode to the bottom of an underpass. Game on. 20 yards of slimy mud, 2 inches deep. Our tires skidded and twisted this way and that. We each managed to get through, but only barely. Mud caked our tires, making them twice as wide and three times as heavy as normal. We turned around, skirted the mud, and started back. When we picked up speed on the first downhill stretch, mud blew off our tires in every direction. My face took the worst of it.
At a bridge, Brendan got mired in a muddy spot. I was following too closely and ended up having to choose between hitting a barricade, some broken beer bottles, or the deck. I put the bike down and ended up flat. Laughing wildly, I stood and surveyed the damage. Nothing broken. No blood. It was all good.
Someone in the group thought to bring hand sanitizer. Not surprisingly, the woman who usually brings dozens of white wash cloths did not trot them out. We cleaned up the best we could and opened the wine.
For the better part of an hour, 25 or so of us stood around the back of a pickup, eating and drinking, talking and laughing. We compared filth levels. We caught up on one another's weeks. We talked about interesting trails nearby.
One woman, a speech pathologist who recently launched a private practice after 20 years in a school system, started working with a young child with autism this week. Last week she mentioned how nervous she was about working with a child so much younger than her typical clients. When I asked how it had gone, tears welled in her eyes. "I hoped you'd be here tonight, and I hoped we'd get to talk," she said. "You don't know what it means to me that you remembered."
We talked for 10 minutes about what she had done and what she hopes to do with this little boy. She beamed almost the entire time.
Full darkness fell, forcing us to clean up and clear out. Brendan and Liz and Jim and I climbed into the truck, still laughing. I still had several hours of work to do, but it didn't matter. I plowed through easily, powered by adrenaline and mud pie.
Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy.