The Lonely and the Brave

The thing about “the Fifty” is that it lasts all year. You have to re-live the results every time it comes up, and it comes up frequently. We do a lot of riding around here, but to be truthful, we rarely ride that far and when we do, many of those miles are counted on the crosstown route to the trails. San Felasco is 50 miles of offroad terrain, mostly singletrack with steep climbs. It is tight, twisty, technical, and rooty for miles and miles.

For me, free spirit that I am, the challenge is not riding 50 miles, but riding those fifty on that particular day, in whatever conditions may appear. The bit you know, it chafes in my jowls. When the pain sets in I ask myself, “Why this fifty miles? Why not some other fifty? And why today? I would have rather ridden it yesterday.” The inopposable existential justification is my bread and butter.

Not this time though. This time I just wanted to finish free and clear, all 50, no drama. The country might be done with W, but I still needed one for myself. With this in mind I cleaned up my act last April. I mothballed my party dress and let my membership in the late-night Liars and Drinkers Club expire.

My dart game is now hopeless, and the conversation in the late night Liars and Drinkers Club was far better than the average trail chat, with some exceptions of course. You just can’t be all things to all people fortunately, so you have to make choices.

Me, I chose the ascetic path for a while…

…and that is why I kicked so much ass yesterday.

I will wait for S’quatch to tell his own story, which may or may not feature redemption and a glorious battle of the spirit. I am sorry to say we sold him out cold. We saw his rusty drivetrain, his nonchalance, and we rode away and never looked back. I couldn’t personally afford any other option.

Hambone, Pain Cave Charlie (formerly known as Tommy) and I hung together for the duration. I led out strong for much of the charge to lunch, then came right to the brink of cracking. As we rolled out of the lunch stop I was queasy and dizzy. They drifted ahead- but not away. The lesson, just keep pedaling. I took note of the incredible weather, abundant sunshine and in the 70’s, and I began the physical inventory. The diagnosis- overheated. The prescription- increased suffering. By the next sag stop I was back in the mix.

I hit a tree at mile 41 and took an over the bars flyer that landed me flat on my back in the soft mulch. The extra adrenalin came in handy for the finish. We passed everyone in sight for the last nine miles and came across the line moving as quick as we had all day. I was sad to be done.

-So take THAT shit to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.


18 Responses to The Lonely and the Brave

  1. I was glad to see you out there, Boss. Bushy said you guys were just waking up, when he left for the event. Being that we were late starting, too, I was worried you had found good reason Friday night, to bag the whole thing. One of these years we’ll have to ride together, at least for a while.

  2. We pushed the limits of the late start, but it all worked out great. No crowds, no waiting. You guys looked like you were having fun.

  3. Cool store tie-in, but where’s my 20 percent off coupon to B,B, & B?

    I was thinking about you all during my 18 miles to Pedrick and back, which of course included some road and doubletrack and no suffering.

  4. Hey, I found that good reason to bag the whole thing, but went anyway to get some good quality time with my buddy Juancho. Hmmm….turns out I didn’t get to see much of my loyal pal.

    Around mile 6, just about the time those guys got too far ahead of me to hear me yell, I snapped my chain. I stood around for a while hoping someone would come by with a chain tool who was generous of spirit and knew what one does with a chain tool, and eventually someone did. He had to take out 4 or 5 links though, and told me I’d only have the granny and middle ring for the rest of this day.

    Then there were several of just about the most beautiful miles of singletrack in Florida — Santos design but in a wilder, more pristine place. That was really, really good, and totally worth the price of admission.

    Then my rear tire started getting squishy and I tried to press on, but when it got down to about 20 lbs of pressure I had to stop and fix it. Then, around mile 17, I was sick of the granny gear and decided to chance shifting up to the middle ring, and my shit just froze in the death lock. I was jammed up tight, my rear deraileur a straight, taught line, with no room to even pry the chain free. You’ve got to be kidding me?! I was off in the woods looking for a bike club (like a seal club but bigger), when three volunteer dudes came by, and after the requisite chuckling and head-scratching, one thought to release my rear wheel quick release and pound on my rear wheel until it eventually smidged out of its groove and gave the needed slack. Then I was back in business, granny or bust.

    Now here’s an example of Millsing it up that’s hard to even believe, but one of those three volunteer guys who stopped to help took his camelback off and threw it down on top of mine on the side of the trail. All I can think is that the straps must have lined up enough such that when I hurriedly reached down to scoop up my camelback I got them both and in one motion I slid them BOTH onto my back.

    My camelback is brand new, and I’ve never worn one before, so trundling along in my granny gear toward lunch I suddenly notice I’ve got TWO drinking spouts to choose from! I’m like, “Wow, I didn’t notice that before! I must have an auxillary reservoir on this thing!” Then, at the next sag, the sag volunteers are on their hand-held radios going on and on about their poor comrade who’s riding up and down the same stretch of trail where he helped some rube, and he can’t find his camelback. Imagine the misfortune of this unlucky sap who has no camelback, when I myself have a deluxe, double-spouted model. With that smug thought, I take mine off to re-fill it and there his is, all green mesh tangled up with mine and full of volunteer tools. Uh oh. Wow, when I put just mine back on, it felt so light and small! Sorry, dude.

    In my granny gear and lightened up considerably, I motored on to lunch, extraordinarly grateful to have a mechanical excuse to hang my bail on. It turns out San Felasco isn’t such a bad run at 30 miles, and you still get the t-shirt.

    Hats off to Juancho for finishing the 50 with a smile on his face and a little something left in his tank. That’s a fine feat, indeed.

  5. My double latte required great care and attention to avoid spilling. Though the coffee shop was dangerous, the latte and I safely to a table and eviscerated a crossword puzzle.

    By the 40th minute the management of the establishment had decided that I was truly insane, a man possessed. After explaining my deep need for the 50 minute extravaganza, I was asked to leave a mere 4 minutes short of my goal.

    Hat is off, Juancho. You have succeeded where I have failed.


  6. awsome; I am so glad to hear this story and not the other one.
    I’m inspired and by close of Monday, I will report to duty with new equipment.
    make me Robot Army Strong!