Tuesday, July 21, 2009

bittersweet symphony

the razors edge has dulled. the mind is willing, but the body is still frontin. balance. achieve, then rest. i am being respectful. that said, the millennium falcon rang my phone with stump in tow. the bastards were scheming, while drinking heavily and watching baby raccoons chase chickens around the backyard. fine, i'll play. no feats of strength, but rather an offer of singletrack and sweat. "purification of the pores" i believe was how it was put. junior dick 3000 had been a positive influence on the falcon, but with departure, con esposa, the chastity belt has come off. stump appeared like the devil on his left shoulder, and they have been off and running ever since.

the path was dry, but rutted from the wet days. not yet buffed out, but evidence of trail work was still in play in the really clapped out sections. fresh, raw cuts on downed trees. boot prints and stamped down trail side grasses. trail angels, i'll call them. i don't get to contribute nearly enough, but without their hard work, none of this is possible. you can't fake the fitness, and the warm up climb on the gravel road had the purification rendering stumps jonny walker dinner stinking up my fresh air. he was standing and stomping, determined to hold the wheel, but his grunts and cussing were cutting into my enjoyable day. i left him and the falcon to hash it out together and made the turn onto the singletrack up towards eagles rest with silence and sunlight. lack of bike practice made the rhythm not easily found, but i managed to stay clipped in and ascending despite misjudgements and attempts at taking the worst lines possible on the trail. a flat section found me face to face with a black bear who decided that my 140 pound physique was more than he wanted to fuck with on this day. popping out on eagles rest, i disturbed three tourist who had ridden up themselves and were of the impression that they had been the first to ever conquer this climb on bicycle. disillusioned alaskans. of course. i ate my lunch while they lifted, looked at, squeezed and rocked the swamper. something about knowing someone who won a race in alaska on a singlespeed this one time, eh. i was finishing up when the drunkenly purged falcon and stump topped out. suddenly, we were even numbers and i opened up another clif bar, sat down and waited for the pending interaction between these two and the alaskans to take place. i tried to wager how long it would take for offence by one party or the other to be taken and possible verbal sparring to take place. i didn't have to wait long.

descending was a treat. i've waited for this since the swamper arrived. the curved blades on the fork afford a balanced amount of flex and natural rebound. the rocky sections were braaaped right through. i was thinking about pisgah, and how it would be to be back there riding those trails. i miss them. i'll go back, and take this bike with me. i'm a different rider, now. that crew makes you raise your game and get better. you had no choice but to crap or get off the pot. if not, your ass rode alone. goodman creek trail is as buffed out as i've ever seen it. the falls were in full flow from a rain shower that knocked the dust down and re-ignited the run off. i stopped to cool off at the falls, rest my hands and wait for my riders. i was a log side witness to a blood bath that was taking place on the descents. two alaskan, stump and falcon in full on four cross mode racing each other down the mountain. ego knows no limits at any speed, even slower ones. i had to dive off of my log to keep from getting taken out as they swept past. i did see stump high side one guy and almost take himself out in the process. i had to see this finish. i took off after them and started catching carnage within minutes. stump was first, front wheel taco'd and him helmet less from where he took it off and threw it up the trail. alaskan rider was next, bonked and pushing his bike up a small hill. i rolled past, handing him an almond snickers bar in silence. i was able to catch a glimpse of the falcon and the remaining alaskan making the turn off of goodman creek onto the lower part of hardesty and as they disappeared from view i heard a loud crash and saw a rear end of a bike flying through the air. these guys had been racing so hard, they took each other out. the turtle of the group, the 3rd alaskan, whom i had not seen since the top, rolls past me surveying the scene of carnage. arriving at the unspoken finish line first. the tortoise beats the roided up hares once again. i laughed at the irony of it all.

in the end, everyone arrived back at the cars, friends. the alaskans wandered over with beers in peace, i passed around a large bag of sea salt chips while the falcon threw in a 5 pound bag of twizzlers. a buffet like this will break the ice at any gathering. we parted ways with highlighted maps of great rides over in bend and a phone number for ride partners for the tourist, and a cycling cap from the shop in alaska for the falcon. i was glad to see the tide turn from where it was at on eagles rest. in the end, it's about the ride, not the bullshit.
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