I got out for a nice ride on Saturday. Seibold wanted to have a small, informal, leaves-on-time-gets-back-on-time ride so he didn't put the word out to anybody. Naturally, the strongest dudes on The Morning Ride showed up and met us at Landing Road, and we proceeded on the Tour de Patap-sicko.
I should beat myself up for my performance, but it's semi-hard to do that. The next slowest rider on the ride is a guy who is definitely a fit and fast mountain biker who would probably crush most of you guys. Me? I'd only crush you if I crashed into you. As he and I hike a biked up a section of Santee or Charcoal or Bug-bug-buggery or whatever the hell torturous bit of trail it was, he said, "in 20 years of riding here, I've never cleaned this section." It took me until about two hours after the ride for my jaw to hit the floor (for the second time) when I realized that in addition to being the worst rider on that ride, I'm also the least experienced by about 75% and the least experienced at Patapsco by about 90%. I gotta step up if I'm going to ride with these boys. They are *very* strong.
That fact didn't keep me from beating myself up for most of the ride and most of the day. "You're letting the team down" kept running through my mind on the uphills. Okay, fine, it was walking through my mind, lacking enough wind to run through and gasping as it went. But I was thinking that. I did alright on the downhills and flats, but (1) logs over about 16" and, (2) uphills murdered me.
The realization that I was riding with maybe 10 experts and 2 very strong sport racers and maybe I don't have tooooo awful much to be ashamed of was the second time my jaw hit the floor yesterday. The first time was coming down the shitty rock field hill on Charcoal.
The crew, using its Home Court Advantage, went pinging down Charcoal at a high rate of speed. I did okay keeping up, but went through this one twisty section with a bit more initiative and ingenuity than I should have been showing. Rather than blast through this big pile of Shaquille heads (they're just like Babyheads, only about 4 times bigger and slippery) as befits a 280 pound dude on the MTB equivalent of a Barcalounger, I decided to ride as if I was on a rigid and tried to pick a sweet line between the rocks.
As we (me, and the Big Mama, which was Salsa's cleaned up name for Big Nasty M'F'er) crested this tiny rise, I aimed between two Shaq heads, and over a medium root. As the front wheel blasted into the little opening, the Shaq heads squeezed it straight, and the root bounced the front end up into the air. This straightened me up out of left turn mode and returned me to Surprise Vertical Mode, and moved my handlebars to the right, where my right hand - still wrapped over the brake lever - bashed into a 12" maple. The rear wheel locked up, my front wheel turned 90 degrees, and I flew off the bike face down into a big downhill rock field, doing a Pete Rose-style head first slide into Ohshitsville. In the words of umpiring great Ron Luciano, he's OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT!
Damn, that hurt. The complete casualty list is being withheld by the Pentagon until the families can be notified, but the knees, both shins, the right forearm, the left calf, and my face were reported to have been scraped and bruised in the operation. Don't bother scattering my ashes at Patapsicko to leave part of me out there when I die; it'd be redundant.
I bounced up pretty quick but was shaken after that. Sometimes when you get off the mountain bike, it's no big deal and you hop back on and just get trucking again. This wasn't one of those times. It took a solid 20 minutes to get my breath back, not like there was much left after Vineyard; and I wound up limping in, damaged. God bless Mike W and later Seibold for doing a bit of handholding until I became semi-functional again...
So I should be ashamed. But I wasn't totally ashamed because it wasn't a terrible performance - I cleared Vineyard without any problem, which has this one spot near the top that used to always knock me off the bike. That was cool. But I'm way behind the curve and if I knocked 30 or 40 pounds off... well, I'd be behind but everything would be easier. Y'know the changes in diet I'd planned to start around a week before my back blew out? Yep, time for that stuff. And maybe it's also time to commit to riding more harder MTB stuff, more often. Only way to get better, is to work better, and Rosaryville ain't going to do it for me.
Meanwhile, I'm going to meditate on all the ways there are to crash a mountain bike. That's tomorrow's post.
Tomorrow's ride is a trip into D.C. by bike, aka Teh Commootz. I think we may take the Occidental Gentleman - the fixed Kona cross bike known as The O.G. - out for a spin. *That* will definitely hurt like shit. Those hills are going to suck ass, no two ways about it. Can't wait to do a 5 minute standing effort up the two long hills on Rhode Island, and that lump at the end of Good Luck Road will be sweet like battery acid... I think I am looking forward to it because, upon further reflection, I probably have a major malfunction somewhere in the higher brain functions.