I haven't been riding much for a long time now. STP talked me into a ride Sunday that kinda woke me back up:
It was good to get out in the open air again! STP and his SO (no, not Sarge :) joined me Sunday at the wide spot on the dirt road adjacent to the sadly uncared for í68 Ďcuda Ė still brings tears to STPís eyes to see it squatting on rusting mags, oxidized orange with sagging headliner, cracked dash and tattered upholstery. This is the only safe parking spot in what used to be a nice area. Strange to start the ride here when we used to just literally ride out my front door. BTW, Deb just got back an hour before from 3 days of Colorado skiing and looks mighty wore out. Sheís an animal, or so I hear.
Dam Itís February and 70 degrees! The climb up 40th is paved but still a tough 8% warm up for the fun part ahead. It doesnít seem too bad though as we gab and laugh our way up. At the top is the entrance to the whoops. As you make the turn around the clumps of 300 yr old junipers, the piles of garden prunings, contractor waste and the cable casings Adelphia forgot to haul away before they all got sent away. Same place but the trash is different Ė I wonder if a secret society of prankster trash gnomes picks up and redistributes it every lunar cycle or so. Oh the whoops are good today! I line up behind Reg with Deb behind me and pedal into the first small down and up and down. It sprinkled and misted yesterday, and some last night and the sand is hard-packed and tacky but no mud or puddles. The texture, scent and taste of desert sand spraying from knobbed rubber perfectly compliments the unseasonably warm air and blue sky. I let Reg dictate the pace but the muscle memory returns immediately. Iím sure I can close my eyes and nail the whole section, but I donít. This section just flows, and if you get the flow it just rocks! Some of the troughs are sandy but you pump and explode over the top into the next bump in the series; Reg and I totally nail the plunge with the right angle apex at the bottom and fly up the steep back side. Itís a series of escalating bumps and berms for the next mile or so until you launch back out onto the pavement.
Since I havenít been riding much for the last 6 months, STP decides I need a -good- ride so weíre going the hard way; which means weíre climbing up the series of double tracks that weíll later descend on the way back. We both clean the impossible rutted out biatch that I used to clean regularly but not in modern times. Itís loose and rutted in all the wrong places and the last ramp leaves us gasping and heaving near cardiac arrest. Waiting for Deb to push up was the perfect excuse to rest and weíre both back to a normal breathing pattern again and trying to look like we just strolled through the park as she huffs up the last ramp Ė wonder if she bought it. A quick up and down ST and dump out into a nice steep, although paved, 2 miles descending to the start of Mt. Emma climb.
STP says heís gonna just find a ďnice efficient middle ring rhythmĒ. I know from experience what that really means and I donít think, actually Iím sure Iím not worthy. Mt. Emma is a 4 mile series of steep and steeper ramps. Some are loose and steep, some are loose and really steep and most are down right hurtful. Reg settles into his rhythm, which isnít the full standard flog I remember and Iím truly thankful he and Sarge flogged the SMís on Friday! Even so, itís a flog none the less and Iím trying to keep good form in order not to explode my aorta. I do manage to keep pace with him but I can see him periodically glancing through his arm, taking evil pleasure in my severe distress. Even 4 miles seems like forever when youíre 15 lbs. fatter. The time between the bottom and top leave little impression; pedal pedal gasp pedal gasp pedal pedal gasp over loose shale, sand and granite marbles and bricks that all fade into a tan haze. Finally we top out and pedal up the little rise before the upper double track descent. Itís an awesome view of the entire valley; the airís washed so clean I think I can see the CATB at hangar 210 in Mojave. I go first this time because I want to ride stupid fast to make up for the pain of getting here. I canít remember how to ride the first rock festival few hundred feet so I just aim and bounce off and over it Ďtil the smooth buffy DT begins. Got lucky and am still pointed the right way at the transition. Man this is what itís all about; screaming down and off angled dirt, jumping ruts and jutting boulders feeling more like skiing or surfing than biking; little unthought flicks and weight/unweighting just balls-onning into the narrow ST entrance before the parallel ruts and washed out 90 turn. This is friggin fun! Shooting out into the fire road I risk a high speed glance back under my arm and Iím grinning as I spot a small puff of dust behind in the distance. Iím pegging it! Actually clean the chute at the bottom first time in two years! (well, so I dabbed and pushed off the rock pile at the bottom). Cross the road and up the other side so I can gloat a bit when Reg and Deb catch up Ė I donít often get to claim a gap with STP. I take the lead into the next fast DT descent and somehow remember the flow from long ago and just haul all the way to the end. Iím starting to remember why I used to love this sport and as Reg pulls up Iím jabbering like a lemming on a banana boat.
A quick turn into the whoops; STP looks at me and says ďbig ring all the wayĒ? Man we killed those whoops Ė pounded Ďem flat for Deb behind us. Big all the way baby! All three of us come out of the final little sabotaged ST before the car and weíre all three completely stoned happy. Debís looking tired; Reg is just looking stoned and stoked; Iím completely wiped and so buzzed happy Iíve forgotten what Iím doing and it takes a few minutes until I see that Iím supposed to get off and put the bike in the car and go home.
Thanks Reg and Deb for making me remember.
Posted by FFW a 48 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a MPB from a state of apathy on 02/12/07