My twin, Chris, and I went for a really great ride at China Camp, including JT Howell trail, in Marin County. Damn, such a great place to ride. And for some reason a place I’ve almost totally ignored in my bay area mountain biking career. With my two recent trips there: a solo ride on Christmas eve and then this ride with my brother a couple weeks later, I think I’ve only ridden there five times. What the fuck is wrong with me? It’s only about a half hour from my place in San Francisco and, unlike Marin’s Mt. Tamalpais (ironically the birthplace of mountain biking), China Camp is all single track, with its arms open wide to us wheeled ones. Mt. Tam is all fire road, mountain biker hating bullshit, with most of the good stuff reserved for hikers only. Totally dicky.
Anyway, I’m in total love with China Camp now, and I’ll be back many times.
China Camp isn’t a super technical playground full of especially good chances to maim yourself, but it’s just so expertly designed. All perfect grades, totally sustainable, and really flowy. And of course, it’s just a natural treasure out there. You get views of everything: North San Francisco Bay. Marsh lands. Heavily forested hills. Purrrrrdy.
But there was evil afoot. It was not all nature at its most beautiful. I also experienced its harsh underbelly.
I got a fucking tick. Duuuuude. Sick.
Yes, a parasitic insect punctured my skin with its little grinders, burrowed into my fragile person and began consuming my lifeblood as its twisted source of nutrition. A fucking arachnid was eating me! I was a host. Not cool.
Well, actually, it was kinda cool. For one, I wasn’t this guy (warning: not safe for anywhere. Another warning, the site it’s on is slow as fuck.) I was fed upon by the wild, man! There’s something sweet about that (if you get out alive, that is. Though they’re not often spotted, the hills of the Bay Area are crawling with cougars, and I’m not talking randy divorcees).
And actually, after a bit of research, I came to the realization that ticks are only about a 2 out of 10 on the Parasite’s Holy-shit-that’s-fucked Grossness Meter. I did a Google image search for “parasite” and, after I managed to calm the uncontrollable shuttering and gagging prompted by a grainy image of a massive tangle of worms pouring out of some poor kid’s bunghole (how does it reach that stage? Somewhere out there are the world’s worst parents), I felt some relief. Why? Well, my experience with parasitic invasion didn’t involve the subcutaneous hatching of an egg into a necrotizing larva, nor did it involve free room and board at Andy’s Hotel Colon. So if I had to have a run-in with a parasite, I’ll consider mine pretty pleasant.
And, as a carnivore, it’s kind of hypocritical for me to get upset at the tick. Let’s face it, my blood consumption is way out of that tick’s league. One bite of steak has enough gore to fill up a handful of ticks (Christ, that’s a visual. Blech).
As I think about it more, I wonder if the tick enjoyed the ride as much as I did. When I was climbing, did it get increased flow, like a beer bong? As I bombed the steep ass fire road connecting the front side of China Camp to JT Howell trail, did he get pumped up from the extra adrenaline? Did he get high, like he was on X or meth? Was he yelling out the equivalent of “Fuuuuuuck Yyyeaaaaahh!” in Tickanese?
Hells yes, that tick really went out blazing.
And I’m honored to have been a part of its final day and happy that I was able to make it a special one. Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking mite-like corpse, I always say. Sure, it would have been a longer, more traditionally prosperous life, full of tens of millions of kids, grandkids and great grandkids, if it had dropped onto a raccoon or skunk as opposed to a mountain biker taking a pre-ride piss. But life is short (about two years). So why not get fucked up on some healthy, adrenaline rich blood and cruise at top speed around a beautiful mountain? Then take a little car ride south, Howard Stern on the radio. I doubt the tick understands Stern’s humor, but I bet the blood of a guy cracking up, enjoying the company of his bro, tastes better than that of some trash eating rodent. Then he got to cross the always stunning Golden Gate Bridge to arrive at the beach-bordering, west end of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Not a bad final day.
That is, until he got discovered, called a filthy little fucker, bulldogged away from his meal with a pair of tweezers, given a fatal side-busting pinch, and un-ceremoniously washed down the bathroom sink.