Sunday, January 4, 2009

Southern Abenteuers

Since living in Switzerland, Jeff and Becky have experienced countless exciting adventures, or abenteuer, as they call it in German. Kate is particularly famous for leading some grand expeditions climbing countless mountains for hours on end, perfect for Jeff's insatiable appetite for adventure.

Back here in our slow Southern universe, we do not travel far for abenteuer fun, because it doesn't take much to entertain us. No energy is wasted looking for fun, for it seems to follow us everywhere we go. What began as gray dreary start to the New Year has turned out to be a barrel of non stop fun and abenteuer.

Ever since I climbed Haleakala on Maui in the rain, the weather has been nothing but yucky and mucky back home. I am beginning to wonder if I will ever ride again with the sun shining down upon me. But I have been diligent and ridden on these gloomy days pretending I was in Maui climbing to the sun.

We had a brief reprieve on New Year's Day and woke to an odd shiny object beaming rays of light on the trail. With all our friends scattered here and yonder, it was looking like we would not get in a traditional New Year's Day ride. At the last minute, a small group was rallied and we gathered at Blankets to ride.

We rolled out of the parking lot with Cyclesmith, Robin, bikeaholic, Barry, Alexis, Speedy, CliffordBRD, Tim, and regularjoe. Right off the bat, Tim set a blistering pace with Clifford and Barry keeping chase.

I was feeling unusually spry that day, and gave it my best shot to keep up. My lungs were searing, my heart was bursting, and my legs were on fire. Tim was blindingly fast and hammered us into the ground. It was fantastic! I'm normally not keen on race pace rides, but since my body could somewhat deliver, I decided to go with it.

Hammering intensely while trying not to throw up, I reminded myself why I stopped racing. It's not that I mind suffering. I just like to suffer on my own terms. If you put a race number on me, I will turn myself inside out until the Finish Line. There is no backing off. But when hammering amongst friends, you know eventually we'll all stop, regroup, laugh, and do it all over again. It's an adventure!

The only one not enjoying the New Year Adventure was Raja. "Did you have a good ride, honey?" I asked him. "No, the MotoLite rear end is just too harsh. I'm stripping it down tonight," he replied.

So, the frame lies naked and rejected in our living room (I call it the fancy closet because it's filled with bikes and such instead of furniture). But alas, Raja the ultimate internet searcher, has found reports of success with PUSH from other MotoLite owners with similar complaints. The bare Motolite now awaits a soon to be PUSHed rp3 in hopes that it will ride the trails again captained by the man who knows no fear!

Our encounter with the sun was short lived and 2009 resumed with clouds, drizzle, and rain. We were supposed to have a special mtn bike ride Saturday celebrating Robin, Joe, and PJ's birthday. It was also the one year anniversary of when Regularjoe crashed Robin's birthday ride and became our new fast friend. But the rains had ruined our plan, and the ride was postponed till next wkd.

I was not amused and wanted to ride, rain or not. It took some poking, but eventually I was able to herd up some cyclists ready for adventure as I was. We were not disappointed. Notice anything odd about this picture?

You know you're in for a fun day when somebody first pulls out a Christmas tree and then a bike! In all the excitement over Speedy bringing the holiday decorations, Regularjoe locked his keys in his truck. The plot was thickening.

Al, Jdubbya, PJ, Raja and I were rolling on the ground with laughter, while Regularjoe and Speedy ignored us. It just got better by the minute.

Regularjoe finally relented and called the Sheriff to bail him out, so to speak. By now, Al and I had enough pictures to keep us photochopping through 2010 and we had not even started the ride.

The fog was thick, but it did not dampen our spirits. Regularjoe was finally free, and the ride could begin.

Equipped with our mountain bikes, we were not phased with the nasty conditions. When we weren't cracking jokes and laughing our heads off, we managed to actually ride.

Over cool bridges,

and off onto dirt roads,

we planned to do the Mixed Loop course, until it started getting a little too muddy. From the looks of this hardpacked gravel road, we knew Johnny Monk would be a mud fiesta.

So, with a change of plans, we hopped back on the paved road and made a game of it.

Time for us to take our friends to Hulseytown.

Hulseytown is a looooooooong road climb on super rough pavement with the KOM ending by this cemetery. Thus, I call it the Col di Cemeteri.

The fog wasn't lifting one bit, but the temps were rising nicely. Raja started the climb from the back and managed to chase everyone down, taking the KOM.

We explored some dirt roads off Hulseytown.

I won't go into the details, but the Thong Trail had us laughing!

We got real adventuresome and tried to find a trail that Crockett had told me about earlier that day.

Not having a clue as to where we were going, we felt like kids again playing in the woods.

With the exception of me and Raja, everyone present on the ride is a parent. Ranging from 2 kids to PJ's big litter of 5 young uns', I think they were all enjoying being a kid themselves for a day. We did not really care where we were riding, as long as we were riding, we were having fun!

Reaching a crossroads, we put out an SOS on the phone to Crockett. Maybe he can figure out where we are and tell us which way to head! At the last second, before we rode off the cliff, the phone rang with Crockett on the other end. He didn't have a clue as to where we were! Oops, guess this wasn't the trail about which he was telling me.

No worries, we heard some dirt bikes and worked our way through the woods towards them to find the road. More fun was had bringing it home, and we laughed our way through 3 hours of a fantastic Abenteuer.

Regularjoe and PJ got in their birthday ride afterall. Happy birthday, my friends.

The next day the weather was, guess what.....still dreary and rainy. That didn't stop us from getting out for more riding fun. Tweety got us together and we struck out from Alphatucky in search of a good workout.

Robb, Regularjoe, Speedy, RaceyTracey, and Psychobilly rounded out the group.

We enjoyed a tour of the beautiful roads of Alphatucky. In between hill climbs and sprints, we laughed and played and had a good time. How can you not have fun when you ride with a guy in an outfit as fine as Mattycakes? Is that Euro cool? I'm not sure yet.

I've said it a millions times and I'll say it again, my friends are the bestest. We take care of each other. Whether it's getting you back on your feet when you've fallen down or cleaning your bike, they will do whatever it takes;-) I love 'em.

2009 has started with a bang. If the past few days of abenteuer-ing is any indication, then this year is going to be off the charts. Fasten your seat belts, move away from the doors, and please keep your hands inside the vehicle.

This train is about to leave the station! I look forward to riding with you all in 2009!

Here's a link to the pictures from our Abenteuer, or you can just watch the slideshow here.

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