Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

29 May 2009

I ride "centuries"...It's tough.

I used to have kickass sweatband (and really, aren't they all?) with that little nugget on it. It was accompanied by scrawled drawerings of an orange skinned cyclist (and really...) grimacing in various poses on his bike.
Man. That was a fine representation of everthing for which I stand.

Speaking of grimacing. A series of missteps led me to ride my crossbike in Santa Cruz on Thursday, and all by my lonesome. I rode upside Westside Ridgeside, and that bike was so zippy and so perfect, it had a little name inscribed on it- it said "#18 barely legal". Even with the standard 53/39 road cranks the bike was never the limiting factor on that hill. From there, I made my next poor choice; which was to take Corral Trail down.Steep rocky descent. Oops, pinch flat. The mosquitos were so bad I had to pump for 30 seconds, disconnect, run down trail for 20feet, pump 30 more seconds, repeat, repeat repeat...
Then it was up Highland to Summit, and over to the top of a road I shall not name (but I will whisper it) where some mini Cooper comes skidding to a halt 30feet away. The lady sees me, zips over to where I am attempting without success to party with my bike (long, inaapropriate explanation involving custom hardware, brass parts seized together, and safety being a priority) and skids to a halt in the gravel beside me already demanding to know how to get to Santa Cruz on a back road...I lied to her convincingly and sent her over to Old San Jose; on account of I wanted her nowhere near my riding.
So after an incredibly sweet one laned descent down the shadiest and windiest and swoopiest road anywhere anywhen (and after being nearly crashingly reminded that it is never a good idea to ride too far over the line when the course is not closed) I missed the turn.

I am usually so spun at this point in the ride that I just follow wheels. And "usually" can be interpreted to mean "of the 3-4 times I have ridden this route".

Regardless, I missed the turn. When I was sure I'd missed it I turned back and rode every one of the 5 turnoffs that seemed reasonably possible. During the traffic pile up surrounding the high school as it let loose the teenagers. None panned out. So it was Scott's Valley down to Mt. Hermon. For those not familiar, this road is the soul killingest stretch of 4 laned Phoenix, AZ style road available within 100 miles of here.
And when I reached Bean Creek, that seemed familiar so I took it. Aaahhh, back to shady single lane back road Goodness. Downhill to boot. But then, in the middle of the good downhill and just when I was getting comfortable with ignoring the little voice telling me I should have hit a cross street to go Westerly, I saw a little sweaty man riding towards me that I recognized. And he was coming downhill because I was now going uphill and I recognized him from Glenwood miles ago before I missed my turn. So it was no surprise to climb for some time back up and miss the turn again, and ride back down Scotts Valley again.
And then onto Mt Hermon, where the car that U-turned in front of me flagged me down so that the shoeless female could say "Oh my God! Can you help me? I dropped my phone number [a scrap of greenish paper] out the window and there it is. [again, 4 lanes of traffic] Can you get it for me?" I debated very briefly explaining to her why that was so outrageously selfish/shortsighted/ludicrous/etc a request, but I settled for saying "Shit, no." And riding away.
Then I made several more errors in route finding (involving but not limited to seeing Skypark/Lockwoode and thinking huh, that's the one spot but where do we go from there...and yes, missing the turn) until I got on the RR tracks and rallied them down.
I thought for a split second about UCON, but I remembered I was tired and sweaty and decided to take the RR back down. And plus, that way I got to see all my peers stumbling along looking for a place to do their _________ next to the tracks.
After that, I picked my way (foolishly getting mixed up and making the longest route out of it that I could) across town and back to the start.

It was fun. I will do it again, only I won't miss the turn(s).


This brings to mind the County Line

on account of I said it only stops being fun if you let it. Which is true, but I will confess in this here cloistered space it stopped being fun a couple times during Thursday's ride. I kept going and soon enough it became fun again, or the fun which had been hidden was again revealed or something else half-assedly mystical. Because that's how it is riding the bikes.

People. Here's the thing: everybody wants to go on "epic" "sick" rides....but unless those people are doing their homework, they fail. Unless folks are out there, by themselves, sweating, hurting, flossing, jerking (got your body working)...they cannot keep the pace required by the scope of a truly big ride. The sunset won't wait. Unless people get out on their 1 hour here/2 hour there personal forays into actual riding...the real demands of such a ride cause it to be either physically beyond reach in distance or pace, and/or no fun because it hurts too much.

There is so much subjectivity in the assessment of what constitutes an epic ride. There are people faster and fitter than __________ who can do more and who have to wait on you (if they are willing), and there are people less so on whom you have to wait (if you're willing). That is well and good. I personally find it to be more fun to push harder (and drink several beers during the ride) so I will happily chase people faster than me whenever I can convince or trick them to wait for me. I do this fully aware that when I show up {gasping} they are ready to leave and have been for some time. I know that I have to follow that wheel as best I can or be lost or stuck in the dark. I maintain a humor about it as long as I can and shut my damn mouth when I cannot any longer. I bring tools and a pump and a spare tube(s). I bring enough food and hopefully something to share (OK, when I remember. I'm not so great at bringing enough food. But I am trying.) I-that's enough.

An all-day epic ride ought to hurt some, and unless one is at a certain point, the hurtin ain't easy it just hurts. There is a fine line between hurting being enjoyable and hurting stealing the joy from a ride. Ride on that line as if it were the flowiest of singletracks.

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