Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two Days in The Valley

Heading up to Vermont for the it's-not-a-race Gravel Grinder ride was a great dry run for actually heading out to the races, something I won't be doing for another few weeks. Except it was more of a wet run...cuz it was wet. Hur. If I were going off to a race I would have been sweating over what crap I should be bringing, ending up with a double-wide milk crate full of redundant superfluousness. This was not the case as we packed up Friday afternoon. I threw a pump, a tube, and a multi-tool in a backpack with a pile of clothes and we were gone. Only I did bring a something I don't normally bring to the races — a bucket, brushes, and some Dawn. I was fearful about the snowy/rainy conditions and the havoc they would wreak upon my snazzy new drivetrain. (Do geared bikes even work in the rain?) I wanted to be able to scrub my bike down after Saturday's ride to and make sure it was functional for Sunday's not-a-race.

The not-a-race was on Sunday up in Waterbury, but the bigger beat-down would come on Saturday while out on a "mellow ride" with a gorilla who was shaved down, taught to ride a bike, sold on the blackmarket as a human child, and named Jeffrey by his unwitting adoptive parents. In the above photo he puts the finishing touches on his engineering masterpiece — a stilt made of two 2 X 4s, buttressed by rocks, sitting precariously on a picnic table. It was used to hold up the leg of a pop-up tent which was being employed to cover a grill, a grill that was in the process of cooking a a chicken with a beer can shoved up its ass. There's allegedly some sound culinary theory behind the shoving of a beer can up a chicken's ass, but think about this for a second...or picture this...your butthole (it's yours so it's not so incredibly gross). Now imagine trying to insert a beer can into that not-exactly-enormous opening. That would hurt. Now imagine that you were the size of a chicken...and your butthole was proportionately sized. That would hurt even more. It would hurt so much that it would cause you to sing Moon River, even if you were dead.

We went on Jeff's "hour-and-half loop" and it took us two-and-half hours. We did get up above snow line, where we caught some "freshies." Mountain bikers get hella-stoked for freshies. At one point I tried to duck a trail-blocking fallen tree by bringing my leg around the back of my saddle like an old lady getting off a three speed, crouching on the left side of my bike as I rolled beneath the obstruction, all my weight on my left pedal and my eyes level with my handlebars. It was so slick! Except I then rode into a deep puddle. That had a rock in the middle of it. I flipped into the icy waters and went AAH! Luckily I was wearing wool socks. Suckily it was 33°.

Jeff takes a walk next to his bike.

I try to hold onto my breakfast just a little longer.

This was the first time I'd ridden with Jeff while he was single-speeded and I was geared. The irony was that I would sit there watching him go up some impossible incline going "how the hell is he doing that? That is insane!" as I bobbled in my 26 X 28 and ate shit.

He took me out on the trails around his house in Waitsfield Vermont. He lives on an massive hill. As we descended away from his house, I wondered if he was going to pull some amazing trick where we wound up coming back to his house on a downhill. Jeff is apparently not a magician.

Although I did think it was kind of magical when I saw all the wee-baby ferns popping up trough the thin layer of new snow.

Oops, I'm out of time. Gravel Grinder not-a-race report tomorrow!


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