Monday, February 3, 2014
This first month of the year feels all out of sorts. In my head, one warps up tools, ideas, and plans for a "new" event, at the tail end of a "closing" event. In other words, prep bikes in December, for events of January.
My January went nothing at all like that. The opening week saw me scrambling to bandage a hemorrhaging bike, in time for Felasco. She came together, and I suffered through my 12th tour of those woods. After Felasco, I found that the Tallboy was still bleeding beneath all those bandages. The rear shock was scritching and squirting(technical terms) with every cycle. No time to send it off for a rebuild before Ididaride. So I borrow, not one, but 2 rear shocks from folks, only to find both of those in worse shape than my own. Scramble, pillage, rape, salvage, beg, bailing wire, and too many freaking hours in my shop later, and she's bandaged, yet again.
Ididaride starts fast as always, to get that coveted spot in the singletrack, ahead of the lollygaggers. It will slow to downright hiking speed, if you get mired in all that. About 12 miles in, I've been long bittered by my cold wet feet, and the fact that my body is not settling in after the fast start, I feel tired, but hope it will come around. The only thing that came around, was my rear wheel, after I clipped a pedal in a corner, planted my knee firmly in the trail(causing the first ever tidal wave in the Suwanee River), flipped ever so gracefully around to land on my back, slammed the back of my head into the ground(causing 2nd ever tidal wave in the Suwanee River), and watched curiously as my bike flew overhead, and tried to kill Tiny Might, who was still in front of me at the time. I get up, and though I very much love Mexican food after I ride, I was not at all enticed by the spoke and rim taco that used to be my front wheel. I had zero interest in walking, but knew the wheel was never going to be the same again. I took the wheel calmly from the dropouts, and proceeded to bit the ever living shit out of it against the ground. Mechanically speaking, I was trying to straighten it enough to allow it to spin between the fork legs, so I could limp out. Metaphysically speaking, I was absolutely trying to kill something that was raging inside me. I sent the group on, knowing I was effectively done for the day. Once they were clear, I continued the mad thrashing of rim and earth. I found a large tree, about 6-8" in diameter, and set about trying to bend the rim around its trunk. A loud crack, the tree that I was now recognizing to not look so healthy, vibrated, shook, and began to fall. Ahhhh hell!!!! I was struggling between my natural desire to run, and the desire to not kill any innocent rider, that just happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time. I gave it one last hard push towards the woods, and backed off. Crisis averted.
The wheel spun just straight enough to get me rolling. It heaved, jerked and swayed, but rolled. The spokes creaked and groaned with every rotation, but they got me to a highway, and back to White Springs. I must have looked like Debo, riding that hoopty down Main St.
The Tallboy is now on blocks, and I started trying to get another bike together in time for Urban Gorilla. After 6 hrs in the shop, and driving all over hell and back to chase down parts on Saturday, I made it happen. Sunday dawned wet and foggy, but I was stoked. Bike looked good, and rode great. I was very ready to get in some much needed hours. About 4.5 hrs in, I pick up a stick, that wrapped my rear derailleur up like a...well....I don't really know what. She was a mangled hunk o' metal, I know that. I tried to convert the bike to a singlespeed, but 3 pedal rotations later, she bound up tighter than all hell. Unrideable, and unfixable with the tools on hand, I sat dejectedly on a park bench, and waited for evac.
It gave me plenty of time to ponder some things. Mostly, I pondered retiring from mountain bikes. I'd spent probably 25-30 hrs in the shop this month, only to have 2 bikes more dead than they began.
Today I drove all over Gadsden County, and found all these cool roads, that I couldn't wait to ride on my road bike. Sweet roads that climb and descend the crazy topography as you move south towards Lake Talquin. But every one of these sweet roads came to a dead end. At first, I wrote them off. For some reason, it just feels wrong to use roads that don't connect, when laying out a new ride loop. See, there it is right there. Loop. But then it hits me. Who made that rule? Why do I have that feeling? Maybe that's just bullshit. Maybe I need to to readjust my thinking, and be okay with all the backtracking. Continuity is great and all, but does it have to be the only way?
These threads of thought may seem incongruous, but in my head, those dead end roads, and all of the dead end wrenching I've been doing, seem to tie together about perfectly. I've already begun backtracking across the nuts and bolts, the assembly, disassembly, and reassembly of those bikes. While it seems like rehash, it's simply a necessary evil, of riding bikes. Though I really wanted to, I could never really just write off those bikes. And this weekend, backtracking be damned, I'm going to go ride those dead end roads, both ways, and enjoy their gifts, coming AND going.