Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bad Ride, Good Ride.

Today I learned that just because you receive a facebook invite to an event, it doesn't mean you should attend that event.
Take for example when Gabe Williams started the event "The Gauntlet".  A big group ride around the Alpine Loop taking all the spurs and side canyons.  I have done this ride before.  Two years and about twenty pounds ago. To be historically accurate, I skipped Cascade Springs.
I had no business joining this group.  Local heroes from Dialogue Marketing, 3B Yoga, lots of skinny dudes.  I wasn't worried though.  With the exception of Cascade Springs I could easily turn around and head downhill when things went pear shaped.  The weird thing is the nightmare I had about the ride last night.  Despite getting all my gear ready and actually cleaning up and tuning my bike for the ride, I dreamed I was late and unprepared.  In the dream I missed the meet up at the beginning and then tried to get to a rendezvous point where I could rejoin.  Lots of weird little obstacles kept popping up. Never made the ride. 
I woke up about a half hour before my alarm relieved that I was going to be able to make the ride.  Then I dicked around until I was about five minutes late.  Charge out the door, load up the bike, head for the meet up place.  Half way there I realized I had forgotten my helmet and sunglasses.  I usually have at least one extra helmet rolling around in the back of my car so that turned out to not be major problem. Other than that it was a mountain helmet, splattered with mud from who knows when and a faulty ratchet/fit adjustment.  Tore off the visor which helped me look really stupid and found a crappy pair of gas station sunglasses under my seat.  Just made the meetup, only to look and feel really out of place.  Lots of people who probably should have been at the Sugar House crit. I know a lot of people that ride bikes.  Almost none of them were there. Got a friendly hello from Gabe and we rolled out. Easy pack ride on Murdock.  Terrifying the dog walkers and joggers with the buzzing freewheels of thirty or so weekend warriors. As we entered the canyon one more person I knew showed up. Burke Swindlehurst, retired pro cyclist and owner/director of the Crusher in the Tushar. Nice to see a friendly face.  The only glitch was when he complimented me on looking like I "had lost a few ell-bees." This stung a little because I am currently fatter than he has ever seen me.  I feigned bashful and he said "No, you look thinner than you did back in 'cross season."  Ouch.  That's Burke's narrow ass on the left.  And Gabe's slightly less narrow ass on the right.
We began climbing in earnest.  Predictably I funneled to the back.  I was riding with a small pack of guys that felt like they were on my level.  We watched the big pack pull away slowly on the road up to Tibble.  I was consciously trying to leave some in reserve and was feeling like the pace was just right.  Just before we got to Granite Flats the big pack passed us going the other way.  We weren't far behind.  I thought I would take a strategic break to eat something and take some of the supplements I bring on long rides that likely do nothing.  At this point I dropped the cap for the tube I keep the supplements in and stopped to pick it up.  This was the beginning of the end.  The small pack I was with began mocking me for pretending to have to stop to pick up the cap.  Then before I could get my shit back together they turned around quick and headed back downhill.  Trying to stuff things back into jersey pockets I soon had about a quarter mile gap to my small trailing pack.  As we doubled back I realized we were indeed the VERY back of the pack.  Dropping down off the dam I decided I needed to close the gap to the other slow guys.  Grabbed the hoods and started stabbing at the pedals.  I could still see them and then suddenly BAM! It was like I was the dog in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons and had reached the end of my chain.  What had actually happened, I think, was a 30 mph pothole.  Both tires popped and my hands slipped off the front of the hoods.  My reflex was to hug the handlebars with my wrists crossed underneath them.  I managed to survive the impact but was now off the brakes and flying down the canyon on two flat tires.  Luckily I was able to get back to the brakes and start slowing down.  On three separate occasions which were probably milliseconds apart, I was sure I was going to be skipping down the road on my ass.  That never happened but the ensuing adrenaline rush and shock stopped my brain and after gaining control I rode about 50 yards on the flat tires before pulling onto the soft shoulder.
Buh-bye everyone.  I went about fixing the tires, I even had two tubes.  Then I noticed my rims.
My plan was going to be, get the tires fixed and see how it rode.  If they were ridable I would skip Cascade and try to rejoin the pack.  If not, I would limp down the canyon to my home in American Fork.
I got everything fixed, remounted the wheels and the rear wheel was so bent it was hitting the frame.  I banged on it and got it to roll, but it hit the brakes on every rotation.  When I tried to ride it I hit the front brake and it sounded like a hammer drill.  I wisely accepted a ride from a shuttling mountain biker who had come back to check on me after seeing me broken down.  Thanks whoever you are.  He gave me a ride all the way back to the Provo River Bottoms where my car was parked, which was far above and beyond the call of duty.  I am not sure that any of Gauntleteers noticed I was gone, but don't worry guys I made it home.
I went directly to the bike shop to see what I could do about getting the roadie back on the road.
While there Riley Smith the world's greatest apprentice showed up.  After regaling him with my adventure he suggested we go ride some dirt.  We called Jeff, who joined us for a quick afternoon lap of South Fork Little Deer Creek.  A blissful little slice of singletrack heaven.  We rode it, and it was awesome.  That was it.  I was smiling and laughing at the end of it.
The take away is that rides with strangers on the road are stupid and don't end well.  While rides with friends on singletrack are always awesome. Take this knowledge back to your people and teach them well.

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