In case you hadn't noticed, I'm kind of an ass. I live about twenty minutes from one of the best riding venues in the greater Somerville area: Harold Parker, and I get up there just a few times a season. In fact, this season I made it up there exactly once and that was for the NEMBA Wicked Ride Of The East this past Sunday. By the way, have you renewed your NEMBA "membahship?" For $60 you get 4 issues of Dirt Rag and the very satisfying "I have a belly full of pretty flowers and fuzzy bunnies" feeling associated with supporting a great outfit like NEMBA. However repeatedly remiss I might be about getting my sorry-slightly-hairy-white-ass up to Andover to ride throughout the year, I am 3 and 0 for the past three years with my attendance at the Wicked Ride.
One appeal of the Wicked Ride over some weekday afternoon ride that I have to fight massive amounts of gnarly traffic to get to, is the big-ass marked loop. The NEMBA guys mark out a 20 or so mile course, utilizing the majority of the available singletrack in Harold Parker. It is pretty sweet. The weather for the Wicked Ride has been ideal for the past few years too, just crisp and cool, typical New England fall stuff. Arm warmers and knee warmers are generally a good idea, but not required. The foliage is past peak, yet the woods are still beautiful, all hues of orange and golden brown. The musty smell of freshly decomposing leaves hangs in the air...it's a smell that will later snap your mind right back to a happy place where you're ripping fast, flowing singletrack interspersed with challenging, rocky, technical bits.
The sad truth is that I almost put an ugly dent in my gleaming perfect Wicked Ride attendance record. I am not that strong a planner. I don't plan. I had no ride to the Wicked Ride on Sunday AM. Just as I was abandoning hope (like the time I abandoned that baby in that dumpster), I got a call from a creepily-mustachioed Greg "The Leg." "Meet us at the Dunkin Donuts in Medford Square." Now, saying "Meet us at the Dunkin Donuts in Medford Square" is like saying "meet me by the fat dentist with the aero bars, riding a Ti Serotta on the bike path," but I was able to pinpoint the location of Greg "the Leg" and our driver, Will Crissman without too much trouble. Of course GTL called my house about five minutes after I talked to him, "Where the fuck are you?" "Uh, I'm just going out the door." "Hurry the fuck up." While riding down there I called GTL to tell him to grab me some stuff at Dunkin Donuts "Dude, get me a medium coffee, regular with a Turbo Shot and an egg and cheese on a sesame bagel." "You'll get something like that and like it" he politely replied.
As I pulled up to the car, I hopped the curb, causing a banana to eject from my bag-pocket. "Put your bike in the car, I'll get the banana" said GTL.
I had been off the bike for basically three entire weeks coming into this ride. I'd produced more green mucus than watts over that period. So the fact that Robbie "I Am I Am Ted King's Brother" King was in our group was a little scary for me. But I was lulled into a sense of "Ah, he's a roadie and, although he may have tons of RAW POWER, he obviously lacks technical skills because I am 'effortlessly' dropping him in the singletrack." Throughout the ride he had little flashes of technical brilliance, and I started to wonder why he was riding off the back so much. Then it happened: Robbie decided to put two and two together, the watts and the skill, and BAM! He dropped me and the rest of the group like we were a bowling balls soaked in olive oil. I just pray that this dude doesn't start racing mountain bikes.
I was hurtin' throughout the ride, but apparently all the mad, mad stage racing miles I accrued in Breck and Pisgah allowed me to fake it for a few hard hours. Monday was a different matter, I woke up feeling like I'd aged fifteen years in a seven hours.
The Wicked Ride is awesome, but there is a whole lot of this, the waiting in line to take a run at a technical sections, which is fine. For the most part people are a whole lot better about letting you pass and not standing in the middle of a trail, blocking the entire thing like a bunch of Quebecois in The Northeast Kingdom or some other people in Mobile, Alabama, staring at a leprechaun in a tree.
A highlight of the day was definitely meeting the mysterious author of the Zen of Cycling blog. He had this to say about his meeting with me:
Apparently Zen is not a quick judge of character.
"He's very nice to me, actually _engaging_. Very cool."
He rode with us for quite a while on his vintage Independent with V-Brakes. Hanging tough through most of the ride before pealing off. It's always good to meet your "blog buddies," people you think you know but have never met in real life. It makes them seem more human, which is good for them, because I tend to take them off my "people I am going to kill and eat when I grow up and become a serial killer" list.
Linnea (pronounced like "linear" with a Boston accent) Koons of Embrocation Cycling Journal
By the end of the ride I was as tired and broken down as a Labrador retriever that had been ridden like a pony at a fat kid's birthday party all day, but in a good way.
I sat bolt upright in bed with an earth-shattering epiphany last night...there are good things to come here at the Big Bikes blog. Hold tight.