Sometimes you have to forget something to realize how good you have it.
--can you spot the missing item?
So, yeah. I drove 9 hours north of my home in hopes to ride my bike only to be thwarted by my own short term memory. Of course when I get to Old Forge I blame the Universe for messing with me. It wants me to be unhappy, it wants to ruin my trip. It only gets worse when the only real bike shop in the area (of which I have purchased a bike from in the past!) gives me the run around and my only chance to ride is now to rent a complete bike. I was frustrated with this because if I were in Cville Shawn would’ve had rented me a wheel if I needed it in a second. Or better yet, for the same price I paid to rent this tank I could have been riding a mother fucking Pivot!
And it’s about the time when I’m riding back from the rental place to where I’m staying to think about how good I have it in my life in Charlottesville. Don’t get me wrong the riding here is pretty rad. You can hop on singletrack out your back door. Ride extremely remote gravel roads and the average high is in the mid 70s with minimal humidity.
But there is no trail group here. Nothing like CAMBC. No one is getting up early to maintain or build new trails on the weekends. The trails are here basically because the winter brings throngs of snowmobilers to the area. And when I get slapped in the kisser with a tree branch or have to dismount to hop over countless downed trees, I’m thinking about how Dave is constantly clearing the trail with either a medieval grade folding saw or clearing debris with his front tire. A beautiful site if you’ve seen it before.
A lot of these thoughts are also compounded because today is my birthday. I get weird on my birthday. Every year I feel I have to go out and ride hard and prove something to myself. Today was no exception. 2 and a half hours of pain. It wasn’t hard to do, the first half of the ride I was chased and assaulted by vicious black flies on the back country roads. They were so bad today they forced me to ride on the road, scrap the birthday route. Grrr. From there I was chased by another cyclist about a half mile back for the last hour plus. Probably a roadie, those dudes are all amped up on the Tour right now. They wanna chase down the breakaway, you know. But I didn’t let him. Instead I put this rented clunker in the big ring and killed it. I know I’ve gotten stronger this year because I get to ride with so many strong riders back home. Always strong, always willing to push it, ride big miles with me. I’m thankful I get to ride with these people. I can see how my body has changed (for the better) from trying to hold their wheels the past three years.
When I get back from this ride my beautiful, smiling wife can tell it’s one of those days. She makes sure I’m alive, gives me water and cherries. I realize I can put her through ringer sometimes with this behavior. I’m out riding with a chip on my shoulder, alone in remote areas, more likely to run into a bear, a moose, or Chewbacca than another person. Cell service, forget it. It also occurs to me that during her first two weeks off from Med school in over a year she is spending her free time on this vacation trying to plan a birthday party for me.
The Universe does not hate me. It has put me in the perfect position for this time and place. I’m so grateful. I am so lucky. I have great friends. A great wife. Two amazing parents who still call me to sing happy birthday. I have to go, time to celebrate my birth with Labatt Blue and fried food.
--32 years down, 68 to go