Saturday, OMBA Epic Route, Santos 57 miles
My heart was pounding in the parking lot while I fumbled my wheel into my fork for the third time. That sound! The pinging! I can’t ride with all this pinging! I need air in my tires. Do I have too much air in my tires? I really should have choked down another bowl of hotel lobby oatmeal and slept another hour.
Too late for all of that now. There is just me and the Titus pointed west and an old friend from here and thereabouts passing through on his way from Baja to Hood River. He is riding an Ellsworth Moment, a six inch travel bike for those of who appreciate the minutiae. I am thinking a lot about last summer- the pain of my cookie crumb shoulder bone, the resilience of so many of the families featured on Wife Swap, and the mechanized plot lines of the ensemble crime drama Criminal Minds. Mostly though, I’m thinking about all the Vicodin and the wretchedness.
So there is just nothing for it when we roll out, me leading the way, at a pace better suited for a very brief road ride. With no hesitation in my route-finding I spin us in a 20 minute circle right back to the parking lot. Todd questions me, but I shrug it off as a warm-up lap. We stopped at the Vortex, and here is where everyone who knows this guy will want to hear stories of aerials and verts, maybe some can-cans, and some rodeos. Too bad, he doesn’t have a blog and the only ride I can speak of is my own. so for this portion of the story imagine yourself just sitting in the saddle, sweating, and thinking less about the Vicodin.
Again on our way we fly to the west. We pass a small gang of cyclists, one with a speaker set pumping the jams out of his backpack. What a jackass! We are protected from the rising sun by a canopy of oaks and the air feels cool and benign. The trail unrolls like cinnamon dough. I’m sure I talked in a very loud voice the whole time. I was excited.
It got hot. Out away from the canopy of oaks and exposed to the central Florida glare I faded. I faded and faded and faded. I was riding all alone. I did this for a very long time. I am specifically not saying much more about this portion of the ride. Bleak and bonked in the 5th hour I came across the jackass, still mainlining the jams directly into the forest. He greets me and offers me a Clif bar and a piece of beef jerky. Who is the jackass now?
Friday, Morris Bridge Trail, Tampa, FL 12 miles
A trail in Florida I haven’t ridden, how exciting! My good friend Todd from back in the day is in the state and here we are with his brother, hitting some local North Tampa single track. Tomorrow Todd and I are riding Santos, so this is just a meet and greet ride. We haven’t hung out in at least 5 years I’m thinking? Maybe he has lost a step? Maybe I’m the man? The mosquitoes obviously think so.
Sunday, Eastside trails, Tallahassee, FL 18 miles
A curse on the Dogboy! A curse of saddle rash, and poison oak, flat tires, and creaking cranks! I feel nothing but pain. I crawled into the saddle this morning, numb as a combat soldier on the 41st day of the shelling. There was not enough food and sleep in the world for me last night to be ready to ride again, and yet we roll. A friendly ride with friendly friends we all agreed. Not Dogboy though, not him. A chance to push against some legitimate west coast talent? He and Todd are railing the rest of us, pounding us up the good downhills and riding them twice. At some point he asks me how the pace is and with breath sorely needed I squawk Fuck you dogboy! and though I love him like a brother I mean this sentiment sincerely and he knows it. He smiles, which is his way of displaying hurt. I make it home dragging my axe along the ground, bloody.
Monday, Munson Hills, Munsonia 10 miles
I don’t care what happens tomorrow. This is my Alamo.
I am expecting short and fast and that’s what we get. I’m used to riding above my level now and paying dearly for thinking I’m of that mold, but I see nerves in some of the other guys and I can smell the turpentine in the air. Halfway around I pass my tormentor, this time it’s King, and he is down in the dust-crashed. I hope this means a slackening, but no, displays of weakness reap aggression and the pace lifts sharply. I realize the way your legs feel and how fast you can ride are not even related. One is just a feeling and the other is a fact. The mutants, King and Todd, have severed the tether between us and they head deeper into the woods. Bushy balked at the turn to the Twlight trail, so now it is just Mystery, the Torso, and me and we are headed for the barn. Digging frantically for more juice I know this is my time, my ride, my reward for Saturday’s suffering and Sunday’s humiliation. I own this next 3 miles. They are going to have to kill me to pass me.
And here I am writing this blog.