Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.
Was uns nicht tötet macht uns stärker (What does not kill us makes us stronger)
I am so F****D.
For the second time in as many weeks, I didn't get to get on my bike at all during the week last week. For a moment, I thought I had solved the drought that we have been having in the South. Just arrange it so I can ride my bike every day. It will rain I promise.
After spending 3 hours in it last Sunday, I couldn't move myself to ride in the dark and rain once more - for awhile anyway.
Saturday came and with it a chance to head to DuPont State Forest with Bob, Anet and Wes Lamberson and Michael Ritter for a nice long training ride on some of the sweetest singletrack in the South. The weather was perfect and everything looked great for a day of riding.
By the end of the day I would be reminded that every silver lining in every cloud could just be hiding a thunderstorm.
Here's how it unfolded.
Me, Michael, Bob, Anet and Wes came to the Guion Farm parking lot at about 10:00 on Saturday. We got ready and geared up for about 5 hours of saddle time on some of Dupont's 90+ miles of trails. Michael was the keeper of the map and minister of pain for the day but before we followed him mindlessly into the woods, we played around on the stuff in the newly (new since I was there last) built skills area. It was good fun. I wish we had a suitable place near home for something like that. Hmmmmm..... That gives me an idea.
I digress. We headed off in a clockwise general direction around the perimeter of DSF and had a mix of fire road and singletrack with about 2/3 of it up and 1/3 down. Some of the stuff we rode up would have been fun to ride down but climbing is what makes you stronger. Besides, the stuff we did get to go down was a blast. Both Michael and Bob are two of few that I will follow their wheel on a descent without worry. We all know how each other rides and we have no problem following each others lines.
That makes for some really epic rides whenever we can get the "freight train rollin".
After a couple of hours, things started to get a little weird. Junk cars in the middle of the woods that nobody remembers being there and other weirdness such as:
I dunno what the story is behind what Bob found hanging in a tree but I bet it would be a good one.
It was a great day and the ride was going good. I had good legs. Three hours in, I felt great and was climbing well. The last few weeks in the mountains have helped put some form back into me (there is just no substitute for actual riding. You can maintain some fitness on rollers but you ain't gonna get much until you get outside) and all was right with the world.
Roughly 3:15 minutes into the ride, that changed a little.
We came to a stream crossing at Corn Mill Shoals. Those of you that know it know how @#%^ @#%%^ slick the damned rocks are and how fast the water goes. The way we always cross it is to take off your shoes and walk across, put shoes back on and your feet dry in just a few minutes. I have done it lots of times and never had a problem.
On this day, the water was about 40 something degrees and it hurt. I went in first and was making my way across. I got to a point where it was just above my knees and I started to get pushed by the current. I was sliding on the *#%@# rocks and almost lost my balance.
I got it together and a couple of steps later it happened again and I started to fall. I put my bike down to use it like an outrigger.
That sealed my fate.
The bike acted like a big ole anchor and pulled me downstream. I still didn't fall yet though.
Unfortunately, I dropped one shoe and in trying to get it, I dropped the other.
Bob was behind me and he tried to catch my shoes and dropped his too!!!!!
People, I can't make this stuff up.
I never did fall. I got my bike across and headed downstream in a frantic chase for my shoes. Me and Bob must have looked like two starving idiots chasing the only salmon in the river. Oh damn the water was COLD but I had to have my shoes, no shoes meant I was F****D beyond comprehension since we were as far as we just about could have been from our cars. I went about a 100 yds downstream and never saw them. My feet were torn up from the rocks in the creek and the brush along the side but I couldn't feel them since they were numb from the cold.
I gave up when Bob came back with his shoes and told me he saw one of mine but couldn't catch up to it.
So long shoes...................................
My options were limited and not very appealing.
In the end, Bob and Michael head back through the Forest to get our cars and me, Anet and Wes headed towards the parking lot at Corn Mill Shoals. It was less than 2 miles from where we were. I rode it barefoot. At least I rode some of it. Anet gave me her wool socks and toe covers which helped a little but SPD pedal really hurt without shoes. I couldn't climb anything over a 0.00043% grade and downhills were just as bad because I couldn't stand up. I just tried to keep as much momentum as I could and pretended I was taking part in some type of Zen martial arts mountain bike training We eventually made it to the parking lot.
My feet were torn up pretty bad and I was really pissed for losing a $200 pair of shoes (not to mention being stupid. Why didn't I toss them across the creek first) but in the end all I could really do was laugh about it.
Now if anyone comes up to me and asks if I have ever ridden a mountain bike with clipless pedals barefoot, I can say with a straight face,
why yes I have.