Saturday, September 27, 2008

The People Make the Ride

It was not a new revelation, but I still could not help stating the facts to Raja this morning, "You know, it's the people that make a ride, isn't it? It's not the ride itself." He nodded in agreement, "yes, it is about the people." We were driving up to Gainesville to join some of our favorite people for a ride on the newer trails of Chicopee. It is not exactly the most scenic or epic of trails. In fact, you just wind around every square inch of the woods.We were psyched simply because of the crowd we'd be keeping. I would much rather ride around a parking lot with these guys than through gorgeous Alpine scenery with some uptight, anal, hammer to the next climb types. The laughs we have and the fun we share is what it is all about in my book. I've raced, trained, and been uptight but do not have alot to show for that. Since 2005 when I got back into riding for the sheer enjoyment of it, I have acquired more than a lifetime of great memories with fantastic friends.

I have still been struggling with finding motivation since our return from Switzerland, and it did not help that Becky posted pics from the newest round of Campers at Camp Hillseeker. All I could think of was what they were doing while I was moping away here at home. Finally the prospect of riding with Tweety, Speedy, RedRocker, Regularjoe, PBC,and iride put some spunk back into my spin.

As we drove up to Chicopee for our Saturday morning ride, my mind did wander off to Switzerland. Jeff and Becky were taking the present campers to the Berner Oberland to climb the Grosse Scheidegg, a ride we did as well with them. Not only was that a spectacular route, but it was ridden with some fabulous friends, Frau Buggy and Herr Gustav. It was the best of both worlds; great people + great ride = Epicdom Beyond Belief.

Journey with me as I briefly recap that day. We started in the town of Meiringen and headed towards the climb not far away.

The climb up to Grosse Scheidegg is about 11 miles on a tiny, but excessively scenic road.

Jeff did a race in 2007 called the Inferno, and this was the road climb leg of the race (he alsoo swam, mtn biked, and ended w/a run up the 10,000+ ft Schilthorn). His memory was still fresh, and he told us what to expect around each corner.

I was not expecting it to be so over the top gorgeous. There was a huge amount of climbing, I think over 4,000', but the scenery took the edge off the pain.

The lower half of the climb took us through thick forest.

Sneak peaks at the mountains as we climbed closer almost knocked my socks off.

Even though Becky and Jeff are incredibly strong climbers, they also possess the rare roadie ability to chill and enjoy the moment. Not afraid to stop for a food break, Jeff whipped out a croissant he stashed away from the bakery.

Maybe they're not so uptight because they take time to breathe, relax, and savor the beauty around them.

See, you can be a roadie and smile at the same time! Our faces didn't crack.

I got tickled last week when riding at Kennesaw Mountain. A cyclist came roaring up behind me, creating much drama as he passed by, staring straight ahead. I said Hello to him, but he did not break his gaze and continued past me as if I did not exist. In response to his silence, I said (rather sarcastically), "I'm fine, thanks, how are you?"

Needless to say, I had to teach him a lesson. I stalked him up the climb, waited for him to blow up, passed him, and kicked his rude butt up the rest of the climb. All he had to do when I said hello was grunt, nod his head, or wave a hand. If he had done that, he would not have incurred my wrath. There is no excuse to not be polite or cordial. Bad manners on the bike will not be tolerated by me, so consider yourself forewarned.

Ill pills were not an issue for us on the Swiss climb. Everyone we passed said a hearty, Gute Morge (the Swiss drop the "n") or Gruezi! With views like this, you cannot help but be happy.

Jeff said there was a part that got steep. We found it, 18% I think it was.
Just when I thought it could not get any prettier, we'd round the bend and something else would take my breath away.

Then I would think to look over my shoulder, and the views would be just as insane from where we had come.

Well marked signs let you know where to go at all times.

Jeff played the Alphorn in celebration of our ascent up the Grosse Scheidegg. Hikers up on the ridge clapped. It was all about the people, sharing in the beauty and splendor of this incredible place.

I wonder if they are playing the Alphorn up there right now?

I read Jeff's update on Facebook, and it says they just completed a 5 hr ride. I don't know if they did the same route we did, but our ride was 5 hours that day as well. I know they took the same incredible descent down to Grindelwald.

We could not help but stop every few feet to take in the views. It is beyond words.

We descended forever, finally passing through little towns, following the signs that took us on gravel paths and tiny roads, eventually leading us to Interlaken.

We zipped through the streets, passing countless other cyclists on their city bikes. How refreshing to see the bike used as a normal mode of transportation! We worked our way to the lake of Brienz and felt our way up and around the lake.

The sights, smells, and sounds were a constant delight to my senses. You never knew what you would see, and did not have to look hard to be surprised.

Jeff is always in a constant mode of finding the high road, and we wondered where he was taking us. "I don't know, but this looks like it might take us up above the city," he said when I asked him why we weren't going down along the lake. "Oh, Jeff, I don't mean to complain, but if I don't get something to eat soon, I'm going to bonk," I said with my weakest most pathetic voice. Without showing any disgust with my lameness, he relented and dropped us down along the lake as we looked for a good spot to grab some strudel.

We found the perfect spot with a delicious view of Lake Brienz.

Today I wondered if the present campers were smart enough to pull that trick and get in a strudel break? Why is it that if I ate strudel in the middle of a ride here at home, I would regret it 15 minutes later. But in Europe, the decadent treats we have during our rides are absorbed instantly and energize us for more riding? Strange indeed.
The winds had begun to pick up and we noticed the high wind flags posted on the lake. A storm on the horizon could be seen making its way in our general direction, so we hopped back on the bikes to continue on to Meiringen before the flood gates opened.

We zipped along the lake shore taking in the views, and in no time we were riding along the valley floor back to town. We passed by dramatic falls crashing down from the craggy rock sheer cliffs to our right. Raja and Jeff were captivated by the
F18's coming in for landing as we just happened to be riding by the unobtrusive runway in the middle of a lush green field. In fact, the bike path crossed the runway.

It was a gorgeous valley and the perfect way to gently end our epic ride for the day.

I failed to mention that the day before, we had completed a 7 hour, 82 mile ride with 12,000' of climbing. Today's ride was a mere 50 miles with 5,000' climbing and a leisurely 5 hrs. My fatigue was well earned.

What a fantastic day it was!!!! I relived it all day today, as I thought about our friends in Switzerland doing that very ride. Wishing I could be there, I was still happy to be with my Georgia mountain bike friends today at Chicopee. No, the scenery was far from the majesty of Switzerland, but the feeling was still the same. The feeling of sharing the passion of riding with your friends. It's a special feeling that I'm so honored to partake in every weekend.

We didn't climb 5,000' or see the Eiger, but we did cheer each other on as we took on the challenges of this humble trail.

There were no quaint cafes at which to stop and indulge in pastries. Instead we laughed at wisecracks and jokes about food made by our cast of comedians. The favorite for the day being, "Should I eat a gu or just metabolize some more fat?" I'm not naming any names.......

We saw other cyclists, fast cyclists, but they still stopped to laugh and smile and exchange some stories. Norma told us about a cool sight; she saw a snake as it was starting to eat a ground squirrel. EEEeeeeewwww, cooooooool! I made sure she took a picture.

Today was the grand opening of Chicopee's newest trails. Years ago, we took part in the trail building of the ZigZag trail, and now it has been expanded upon. Hearing rave reviews from our friends ride here last wkd, we could not wait to try out the new stuff. This was my favorite trail.

It needs to be renamed though. After Norma's report, apparently the squirrels do not fly afterall. They get.....well, never mind.

It is a Speedy fast trail.

With lots of fun zippy flowing sections.

It made Tweety smile, even though he was on his 36lb Bulit.

Ultimately, it is all about the people. The people you are with and the camaraderie you share, that is what makes a ride, any ride, special and memorable. It's not about who finished first, who was fastest, or who dropped who. Who cares?!! Our friends, our life, that's what it's all about people. Friends, like Tweety and Regularjoe, that ride hard and make you laugh even harder, are the ones with which I like to spend my day.

Redrocker and


Rusty aka iride,

and Speedy. It's the people like these that make our rides.

A special "Heal fast" goes out to Racey Tracey. We miss you out on the trails, but you will be back on the bike soon. Be patient, grasshopper:-)

Raja and I are so fortunate to have so many neat friends with which we love to ride. We know loads of cyclists and ride with them all, but there is that core group that holds a special place in our heart. The ones that all know what it means when someone shouts out, "Looooorrrreeee, thaaay're just weeeeeeds!" Hey, Kate, this one's for you!

Yep, good times, good people. Life's too short to miss a smile! Next time a cyclist passes by, say hello. They might just say HI back!

A slideshow from our day riding up the Grosse Scheidegg.


Ony said...

You said it perfectly. It's definitely the people that make the ride. I've had so much fun and learned so much with you guys and all my new friends. Makes every ride "my favorite".

Eric said...

It was great seeing the HUGE grin on your face last week when you nailed the waterworks climb at Chicopee Ony. We can really see your confidence build.
You've also gotten to be really fast!

Nice post as usual Laurie. I am a bit upset that I haven't seen a picture of you and Roger though. Y'all looked so cool in your matching gear :)

Becky said...

That is sooooo true -- It made everything a million times more fun having you two out here to experience it with us.

Good thing strudel in Europe doesn't have any calories... croissants too!

And, nice weeds once again :)