Our backyard seen anew

The first rain in what seems like years brings fresh perspectives as much as it refreshes the land around us. With serious rainfall, daylight savings time and cooler temperatures, it seems like the endless summer might actually have an end date.

Luckily, the first rain came on a day off for Bryan and I, so we slept through the heaviest of it, and took out our cross bikes in search of tacky dirt. What awaited us was a brand new way to see a land we thought was so familiar - the same landmarks, but with totally different routes and vistas, thanks to fire roads and single track instead of suburban lanes and highways.

We passed through Mill Valley to get off the road, and in doing so were treated to groves of immense redwoods. Not a bad farewell to pavement.

Mt. Tam is tackled on nearly every ride, but not so often from Old Railroad Grade, a dirt fireroad / trail much less frequented. There, we realized the obvious benefit of dirt - no cars. We were shocked by how isolated we felt, 45 minutes out of San Francisco and the atmosphere was more like the Sierra foothills then the big city suburb.

The top of Mt. Tam brought us to familiar territory, but the stoke was too high to take the all too familiar roads home. Could we make it on trails back? The answer was yes - though not without some difficulty. But what's an adventure ride without a little hike a bike and a few lost moments?

By the end of the day, we'd been nearly only on trails, nearly only on new trails, yet shockingly close to roads, towns, and monuments we know so well. It was more refreshing than alarming to feel lost so close to home; just as it was inspiring to see something new just off the path that we beat a few times a week.

What's even better that every step of the way, dozens of new trails sprung off in different directions. May the new never end.