Saturday, June 28, 2008

the Big Boyz

The past few weeks have been all about going Big. Big numbers and Big fun. In order to carry on with the theme, we had to scratch our heads to think of way to keep it big for this weekend. I know! Let's ride with the fast guys, or the Big Boyz, as I like to call them.

Raja really wanted to do another run on the "Spider Rodge" ride we did a few weeks ago, but we could no get any takers. Everyone was either out of town or had lame excuses like, "I've got to remodel my bathroom" (Clogger). Larry the Shredder called to check on our ride plans and was immediately interested. He was our tour guide the first time we did this route. His W.O.T. teamate, Gary, also wanted to go.

Uh oh, this plan was starting to scare me. I will ride with Larry, but Larry and Gary? That's a whole other equation, of which I did not possess the facts or figures to solve. Larry and Gary are 2 lean mean racing machines. We have many different categories of riding buddies: Crazy, Shavers, Old Timers, Fun, Slow and Socializin', Smack talkers, and the Fast & the Furious. These 2 friends fall into the latter category.

We have been riding with Larry for umpteen years. I cannot remember my riding life without him in it. He introduced us to Gary a while back. I do remember that Gary has always been a fast racing dude, just like Larry. Maybe when we first met, I was fast. I did not used to be so afraid of riding with Gary. These days, I come up with all kinds of excuses not to ride with Gary.

Now, do not get me wrong. I adore Gary. We are best of friends. He is just too dang fast for me. Larry will humor us when we ride together and keep the pace at a semi-anaerobic jolt. Gary just takes off and your heart explodes trying to keep up. Game over.

We used to ride more with the whole gang of Big Boyz; Larry, Gary, Brad, Allen, Tim, James, Greg. They are all nuts and stinkin' fast. I love it. Well, I used to love it. Can't do it anymore, but we're all still friends.

It didn't matter what I thought, the ride had been planned for Saturday morning. We tricked Millhouse in to joining us. Why should I have to suffer alone? Find a newbie, green behind the ears, and throw him in the deep end too. We could go down together.

Starting at Gates Chapel Road, we climbed up Pinhoti 2 first. Like a fool, living in my glory days, I tried to stay on Gary's wheel. Sandwiched between the two hammerheads, the climb up P2 was killing me. I muttered something to Larry about not being able to stay on Gary's wheel. "Oh you're doing just fine. This pace is perfect," he replied. Translated that meant, I don't mind going your easy pace. What he did not know is that this was my race pace. I wanted to turn around and throw him off his bike. But I love him too much, so I just cried on the inside and prayed I would make it to the top of the climb.

Pinhoti 2's downhill is the best around, but I was not looking forward to it. Once again, I knew I would not be able to hang onto the Raja, Larry, Gary train. My pride was being hurt. It's hard to swallow the hard truth that you ain't what you used to be.

That's when I had a heart to heart talk with myself. Get over it. Have fun! They are not trying to put the hurt on you. They're just having a good time doing what they love. Quit the pity party and enjoy being able to ride. I took my lecture to heart. We zipped down P2 and headed to Pinhoti 3.

I wasn't going to give up that easy though, trying to hang with the Big Boyz. As we began the climb up P3, I did my best to keep pace. Slowly they began to gap me. That's okay, just keep 'em in sight. Rhythm, rhythm, focus. So much of it is focus. It is amazing what you can do if you just lock in on the goal. Get in the zone. Dig a little deeper. It started coming back to me, the old racer was coming out, it all came into clear view, my focus and..........oh lookie, a little turtle. Hehehe.

So much for focus! I had to play with my new found friend and warn him of the perils of hanging out in the middle of Pinhoti 3 on a Saturday.

With my new trick Talus fork, I have the luxury of dialing it down from 140 to 120 or even 100. It occurred to me on this climb with all the switchbacks, that bringing it down would be an advantage. Instead of wasting valuable time by dismounting, I simply grabbed a tree to hold on to while I turned the knob.

Uh oh! Note to self: dead trees do not provide good support. I'm falling! Close call, another tree stopped it midfall, but I was already in flight for an unplanned dismount.

Another note to self: Do not dismount into a nest of yellow jackets! Aghhhhhhhhhhhh!
What is this searing pain all over me?! Ah! Ah! Ah! I realized what was happening and took off running up the trail whilst ripping off my shorts. Millhouse was aghast. Raja just shook his head. After 20 years, he is used to my bizarre behavior.

In the meantime, the yellow jackets had taken my bike hostage. Raja and Millhouse were held captive unwilling to proceed past the swarm to come check on me. All they could do was sit and wait until the ransom note was delivered. What would the bees want in exchange for a blue MotoLite?

Eventually the swarm died down enough for Raja, the unlucky volunteer, to make a mad dash for my bike and bring it to safety. Millhouse pretended to be scared of venturing near the bees, but he was really so traumatized over seeing me flailing around half naked that he did his best to avoid being near me. Poor, poor Millhouse. He will probably have nightmares and need counseling.

Thankfully, I began immunotherapy 5 years ago when my allergy to stinging insects was discovered. Raja took note of the time, and knew that after 20 minutes my fate would be evident. I popped a couple pills and prayed the reaction would only be local. It was!

The downside was that 2 of the 8 stings were on the inside of my thighs. I use my thighs to hold onto my saddle when downhilling. That made it a little tricky. Trying not to think about the discomfort in various places on my body, we continued on up the trail. Larry and Gary would be wondering what was taking us so long. Sorry guys!

Across Hwy 52 to Pinhoti 4 we climbed.

The last bit of P4 has a little pitch. Nothing horrible. I've never, ever had a problem with it. My legs felt like jelly, and I got off to walk. Knowing the serious climbing that lay ahead at Ft Mtn, I considered turning around. Then I came to my senses and decided to tough it out. But I voiced my opinion in the direction of our next loop. Last time we went clockwise, ending on that wicked steep climb. "I can't do that today, let's go the other direction." Nobody argued. So we headed up the gravel road to Hwy 52 to the Ft Mountain park entrance. This time we would turn left and go down the Spider Rodge climb.

Going down the Spider was a bit hairy. A 27% grade in overgrown brush and loose terrain made for some intense moments.

We survived. At the bottom, we went around the gate and took a left. The old roadbed goes alongside a lovely creek, crossing it every once in a while. It is a beautiful setting. We rolled along this for a while, nothing too heinous.

We ran into some riders. Turns out it was MrUnderhill, theHeckler, & wife, Theresa. It pays to post pics on sorba. Folks recognize you, and an opportunity is born to make knew acquaintances. Nice to meet you!

Continuing on the trail along the river, we crossed a field and cut back into the trail across the creek.

After a while, the climbing began. We remembered blasting down this climb the last time, and did not think it was going to be too bad. Wow, we could not have been more wrong!

There were some seriously steep pitches (alleged 30% according to the garmin) and the terrain was loose. The climb went on and on and on and on and on and on.

My friend, Speedy, said that those evil yellow jackets that stung me were radioactive, because they gave me supernatural climbing powers. Gary and Larry, of course, led the chase up the climb. At one point, Larry's rear tire slipped, forcing him to dab. I passed him keeping Gary in sight. On a steep nasty pitch, Gary dabbed ahead. That rattled my nerves, but I dug deep to try and pull it off. I did! Wow! I tried to contain my surprise and keep on task. There was no time to celebrate because the climb continued.

Gary was still ahead, and I had no hopes of gaining on him. But I had my dreams now of making this bugger without dabbing. Around every turn of the trail, all I saw was up and up. I remembered it was a long arse climb. Trying to go as slow as possible to keep my heartrate in check, I picked my way up, up, up.

Larry was now breathing down my neck and quickly passed me. His tire slipped again. I passed him. Gary was still in sight. The nasty part of the climb had come to an end at a fork in the trail. A good excuse to stop and wait. I pretended not to know which way to go.

Besides, I had to revel in my glory. I was the new Spider Queen! SpiderRodge had purposely stopped a few times on the climb to lower his heartrate. Still counts as a dab. Just like the stings, my head began to swell...with pride. Queen for the Day! I may not be fast as the Big Boyz, but I can climb a wall (sometimes)!

Enough gloating. Still more climbing to do. The road was much more manageable, and we middle ringed it onward. For what seemed an eternity, we climbed, finally reaching the top. Then, it was just a short downhill back to Pinhoti 4 from where we were an hour ago.

Everyone was pretty zapped from the laborious climb. I think even wonderboys, Larry and Gary, were feeling the pain. Back down P4 and P3. I was barely making it. All I could think about was the chocolate eclair and cake waiting for me at home.

I am the biggest chocolate snob around, and will not eat just any ole chocolate, except for Luc's creations of Douceur de France. He's the only one that passes the test. I am, afterall, a highly trained chocolate professional;) (I told Treybiker about Luc's a few weeks ago and he tried it out. He agrees, it's topnotch!)

I did not do a whole lot of railing on the descent. The painful stings were still reminding me of my earlier encounter with nature. But the truth is, I was so darn tired that I could barely focus. That's when you do stupid things. Having fulfilled my stupidity for the day, I could not afford anymore Tom Foolery. It's a spectacular trail and a feast for the eyes. Enjoying the scenery, I made it down in one piece.

Crawling back on Shakerag was a bit of a contrast to how I felt coming back from this ride a few weeks earlier. Granted, our ride time was almost 20 minutes faster. That could have something to do with it. Oh yea, I spent the day chasing the Big Boyz. I think that may have contributed a bit to my exhaustion. 34 miles, 4460' elevation gain, and 4 hrs 10 minutes. shewie.

Millhouse did not seem the least bit flustered from our big outing. sandbagger. I'm so proud of him! He did fantastic. There was no waiting for him, and no crashing. Two good pluses. Millhouse, you're bad and you're back!

Thanks, Larry and Gary for putting up with my turtledom today. You're good sports and great friends. I am honored that you still want to ride with us. Let's do it again soon. Call me, in a few years;)

On the way home, we made a slight detour. Raja had to swing by Outspokin to weigh a MotoLite frame. 5 lbs 14 oz. Passes that test. He also just happened to end up with yet another demo. A medium Mojo. Where are we going to put that thing, honey?

Yup, I'm married to one of the Big Boyz with Big Dreams! Going big.....that's what he does!

I don't know if it was a combination of my poor body fighting against 1,000cc's of yellow jacket venom and the high energy output from the ride, or if I am just old and lame. I woke up Sunday morning feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck and all my blood had been siphoned out.

Our zany n' fun category of friends were all riding at Blankets. It takes alot to keep me away from them, even if I have to crawl on all fours. Lots of moaning, groaning, and whining ensued as I maneuvered my body to the car. Raja was a bit more spry than I. Excitement over testing out the Mojo had him raring to go. I am beginning to think he lives for the chase, and not the actual acquisition of a bike. He's a test run junkie.

I opted for the MotoLite today. Swelling from the stings was still in full force and I was cranky. Not a good combination for the challenge of riding my singlespeed. Let's keep this as simple as possible.

The Van Michael trail is sooooooooo much fun. Even being as cranky as I was, it was still a good ride. I had to let the Big Boyz, CliffordBRD, Raja, and The Clogger, go ahead. I was content to bring up the rear. My goal was to keep it easy and flush out whatever was tainting my system.

We ran into Robin and Colin. Seeing the two of them is beginning to be a nice habit! Robin was sporting her beautiful new drivetrain. I had cassette envy.

Peanut rode her singlespeed on Dwelling for 3 laps while we did the new loop. She's getting rather serious in her training! Pretty soon, she'll be challenging The Clogger on the trail. I'd love to see that!!!

To continue the theme of Going Big, I decided 8 stings was not impressive enough. As we finished our lap on Dwelling, ZAP, another darn yellow jacket got me on the neck. Needless to say, I was a bit perturbed. I had one nerve left, and he landed on it. I put it in 5th gear and nailed it to the parking lot. I was done for the day. All I wanted was some ice. CliffordEMT jumped into his role in split time, and had an ice bag ready for me before I could get off my bike. Thanks, Clifford!!!

Maybe it is time to take a break from Going Big! I think I will step back into the shadows and lay low. At least until the next big ride!

Here are a few pictures from our Spider Rodge adventure. When you ride with the Big Boyz, there is not alot of photo taking. Too busy chasing them down!


regularjoe said...

Wow. I'd say that's a full day.

Bummer about all the stings though :-(

Awesome, for being the Spider Queen!

jmilliron said...

What a ride! Great photos!

Thanks for letting me tag along.

Becky said...

Way to go Spider Queen!! Bring me some of that magic yellow-jacket juice, ok? It obviously works!