I went for a night ride tonight. All day, I looked for an excuse to bail. I have been doing that quite a bit lately. And now that I have ridden, I wonder why I didn't want to go in the first place. Maybe it's the whiny, pissin and moanin mood I have been in of late.
"Wah, wah wah. I have to get the bike ready. Check the tire pressure, put on riding duds. Get the lights out and hooked up. Check the shifting and the brakes. Find my shoes and strap myself into them. Adjust the lights. Fill the Camelbak. Adjust the helmet. Jeez, gonna take me an hour just to get ready for a 1 1/2 hour ride. Hardly seems worth all the hassle. Wah, wah Wah." All day I was like this. What a whiner. If I had pulled this shit in front of the boys, they would of left me sad and pissy in the parking lot. Pre-emptively I pooped on the party that had not happened yet.
Anyway, 4 of us hit the trails around 8:00PM. Took me 10 minutes to stop whining at myself. "Wah,Wah, Wah, I'm tired. My legs hurt. Jeez guys, where's the fuckin fire? The trails aren't goin anywhere. Slow down fer chrissakes. Wah, wah, wah". And then we hit the first section of singletrack. A sharp left off the railroad bed and into the dark pucker.
It must of been my need to pay attention that got me out of the whining mode. As the boys dropped me like a rock, I fell into the rhythm. "Lift, dip, weight back for this log, up and sharp left. Damn, face plant !" But I didn't whine. I picked myself up, straightened my glasses and pulled some partially decomposed forest out of my helmet and right ear. As I turned the cranks to reset the chain, I grinned. This was gonna be a fun night. I knew right then and there, I was feeling frisky. Tonight, reasonable and judicious fear was MIA.
This trail was not particularily tough, but it requires full attention to stay smooth and on track. Space out a moment and it will stop you. Drop you hard. Make you pay. We call it "The Burnt Car Loop". Named after a burned out car someone managed to drive up the rail bed 20 years ago. They must have had a helluva time that night. Smashed, broken and torched, that car signaled the beginning of a sweet loop that ended with a satisfying downstroke. Go as fast as you dare, it always rewarded. And sometimes punished. Dips, water, rocks, roots, and some low flying branches just to keep you sharp. Corners you can't see around, but if you trust yourself that day, keep those tires rolling, catch the berm around and down. 15 minutes of in your face pleasure.
The Burnt Car Loop ends abruptly, dumping us back onto the railbed 300 yards from where we started. Swooping down to the T, I always wish it would go on a little longer. Tonight was no exception. I almost spoke up and said "let's do it again". But I just fell in behind Warren and we headed up the rail bed and banged a right onto an old washed out tote road. I hate that damn road. I hate it so much, I won't name it. It's just "that damn tote road". Not very long, but full of loose rock and just enough upstroke to make it tough going. I always slow down. Poke along and prolong the agony. Not sure why that particular route doesn't suit me. The other guys scoot along fine. I could barely catch their red flashes up the hill. Falling into that slow grind I am partial to when not happy, I seek a happy place and do a mental re-run of the Burnt Car Loop. It passed through my mind as I slow poked it up to hook up with the crew at the pavement. I thought about the rocky creek crossing that makes most of us walk most of the time. But tonight I had it's number. Tonight I made it. Well, almost. Kinda. Sorta. What was important, I didn't go on auto pilot, get off and walk. I relived the one eighty I survived when I careened off that huge rock I did not see. I lost myself in the last few minutes of glory and in a few I was through it.
Dropping down the paved road to the trail off Butler Corner, we came to "the Rock Wall". Haphazardly placed, the big rocks perform the function the irate landowner had in mind when he tossed them there a few years back. They declare, "ATV's not Welcome", but if you can walk or ride, come on in my friend". The wall is another intimidating barrier that teases you with but one good line up and over. Rewarding with a rush, punishing with sharp edges that bite. Most times I just dismount and do the lift and grunt. Or when I am feeling frisky, it drops me hard onto the same jagged rocks. But tonight the one truth path revealed itself to me. "Right there, That's it, lighten up on the bars and float. Damn! Made it!"
Feeling cocky and full of myself, 20 feet later some deadfall catches my Camelbak and smites me down for feeling so high and mighty. I am laughing so hard, when I start to get up, I trip and fall again. I pulled myself together as we pulled the offending branch off the trail. Hitting the dirt again, the rest of the ride goes by too fast. All of a sudden we were back. It was over. And I was immediately a tad sad. I almost said, "Let's do it again".