He is the friend who first put me on a mountain bike. I still have the frame. The fabled 1988 Jamis Dakar. He’s training for a marathon. He absolutely loves to suffer. I outweigh him by 25-30 lbs. He rides titanium.
Knowing all of this I still have come to treat him like a sweet old hunting dog who needs to get out in the woods (even if he can’t hunt no more). We ride on Mondays, and I habitually call it my “recovery day” since Sunday rides are often long.
He didn’t sound like he even wanted to ride. He accused me of the same. I told him I would find my motivation on the trail. We rolled onto the Tom Brown Park singletrack course and he was off. I mean he was gone. My face went cold. I geared up. Click-click. Cla-chunk.
Tight, rooty, steep. My trademark curtain of drool began it’s seepage onto my beard, reaching slowly down to my chest and top tube. It’s viscous, with the tensile strength of a weedwhacker cord. It means I’m going fast or about to die. I was going fast. I kept him in range and waited. When the trail opened up for the long climb across open ground, the sun was blinding. I got in the big ring and stood on it. Up I went, passed him like the bum he is.
He got around me again somewhere close to the end and we finished the course seconds apart.
The Duel was on, and we headed to the Cadillac trail to finish it.
We got on the heritage trail (wider-faster) and just stayed there, pounding for a long time. Climbing so fast I felt the G’s pulling against me in the corners. The drool hung like a shower curtain the width of my bottom lip. I was putting the crush on him. Every time I got a glimpse of him fading in my rear view, I got a burst of adrenaline to make him disappear forever.
It was like hitting each other with hammers. It was like trading kicks in the nuts. It was Mad Max. It was attempted murder. Pure masochistic bloodsport.
On the way back in, I eased up before the final long climb, preferring to follow him and not ride any harder than necessary. He eased up too. I eyeballed him and got a nervous laugh. He was playing the same game. I took it. I kept it. I had to. I was afraid he would trample me if I gave him the chance.
That rickety old dog can hunt, believe it.