Tales from the Tarmac | Let the Ride Provide

Crap. The alarm has failed me again—or rather, I’ve foiled it once more, conveniently forgetting to set it the night before. A 9 a.m. start time morphs into noon. I stumble into a kit and shuffle towards the garage, the mental list of preparations—chain needs lube, tires need pumping, loose fender needs tightening, rear derailleur needs a little fiddling—grows steadily longer before simply vanishing with the words ‘Screw it,’ muttered under my breath.

Pre-ride preparations can be a comforting ritual, but they can also be a royal pain in the ass. Today was one of those days.

Sometimes, it’s best to simply kit up, clip in and roll away and have faith that the ride will provide.

My pockets filled with a lone tube, two Bonk Breaker bars and a pump, I was sorely underprepared for the route in store. One hundred miles with plenty of dirt, and even a bit of singletrack descending thrown in, would definitely require more than two bars—and hopefully not more than one tube (although singletrack and skinny tires don’t always play the nicest together). No worries though, for some reason, I was trusting that, today, the ride would provide.

Rolling out to the coffee shop to find an americano already waiting patiently for me at a table containing my likewise patient riding partner was a good sign. Another? The fact that due to a marathon going on that that day, our route out of town was almost entirely car-free. Add in a healthy tailwind and things were already looking pretty good.


While mountain bikers and hikers offered some bemused looks at the trailhead, Rinconada’s sinewy singletrack is plenty of fun on skinny tires too.

That was at least until our bottles were beginning to get a bit too light for our tastes. And by light, I mean a few drops shy of bone-dry. It appeared a stop the Pozo Saloon, about 10 miles and a singletrack descent away would be in order.


Home of the Pozo martini (a mason jar full of beer with an olive thrown in for good measure), the Pozo Saloon is one of the longest-operating watering holes in all of California.

The only establishment for miles around, we were definitely placing all of our eggs in one basket. Bottles as empty as our pockets now were, we rolled up to the Pozo Saloon, only to find the doors closed, with the proprietor walking to their car.

We must have looked pretty sorry—sorry enough for the proprietor to feel the need to ask if we were alright. But, our sorry appearance appeared to be a godsend, for they marched right back inside and brought out four cold bottles of water, and a genuine disappointment that the kitchen was closed.

Discouraged, but pleased with our luck, we meekly asked about the possibility of getting a bag of chips, wary of pressing our luck too far. Instead, the proprietor suddenly remembered a leftover pizza from the previous night that was taking up residence in the fridge, and that we were more than welcome to it.


Cold pizza never tasted so good.

A few profuse thank-yous later, we tore into large cheese pizza with reckless abandon, dumbfounded by our luck.

Freshly stocked bottles and bellies full, we pushed off to go tackle the highest paved climb in the county—not knowing if the sun would last. But, the way things were going, we weren’t too concerned. My mantra for the day seemed to be holding wonderfully true.

Just sit back, relax, and let the ride provide.