Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Wilderness 101

(if you're offended by bad language.... best stay away.)
(The same goes for bad writing.)

I traveled up to Coburn PA for my annual attempt at getting through the Wilderness 101 without grievous bodily injury or a succession of flats.
I succeeded in the former... not in the latter.
This event and I.... we have history.

Me: (frustrated and near tears)
Honestly.. I don't know why I keep coming back to you. You're not good for me. I should just stay away.

Wilderness 101: (looking at me bemusedly)
You don't mean that.

Me: Yes. Yes I do. It's like... I go away and start romanticizing all of this shit. Like I forget how truly awful you really are to me... every time. I don't know why I always come back. I mean... you're so f***ing mean to me.

W101: Because you love me. And I love you too..... In my own way.

Me: No... I don't. Look.... I don't love you. I don't... don't even like you. Damnit. You're just f***ing awful. And what does that even mean.... "in my own way?" God... I mean.... look... you're f***ing gorgeous. Too gorgeous sometimes. And yes... we have a lot of fun together. Damn do we have fun. But sometimes.... I think we just need to stop. 

W101: stop what?

Me: Ugh! Stop this! Us! You just.... beat me down! It always tears me up. I don't know why I come back to you... I always get hurt. Always. You're just so f***ing mean.

W101: I know why.

Me: Why what?

W101: I know why you keep coming back. It's because that's what you like. You like pain. You like being hurt. Don't you, love?

Me: No.... What?  No.... No!....That's just....f***ing stupid! I do NOT like being hurt. I like comfort. I like being pet. I like soft cooing in my ear and gentle kisses. You... you like.... attack me. I have scars on my back from your  nails. Scars! And that bite on my shoulder.... you hit f***ing bone. 

W101: That's what I want from you. 

Me: (tears freely flowing now) Well what about what I want?! Huh?! What about that?!

W101: (Gently petting my head and cooing in my ear.) Next time. Next time I'll give you what you want. You know I love you. 

Me: (defeated) No you don't. I'm just another man to you. Just one of many. 

W101: (Gently petting my head in silence..... then:) There now. Go to sleep. You're tired. I'll see you soon.

Me: ....ok.... 

Despite feeling pretty tight from ORAMM the weekend before (where once again, Dicky kilt me and Barnyard came in ahead) I was riding strong. Top five singlespeed, eating and drinking successfully, still feeling strongish.
I had one goal: Avoid flatting on Croyle Run. I managed that. "F*** yes!" I said when I hit the road. I ate and stood up, seeing Dan Rapp and Ernesto up the road a little ways. If I could managed to ride conservatively and keep them in sight, I could probably managed a decent surge on the last climb and clinch it. Podium? I'd love to... but as usual, every year I show up with the same background: Don't ride all winter... Race.... don't ride for a month.... race.... don't ride for a month. It's not exactly a recipe for success. (And here's a little secret: The recipe for successfully not getting to ride is: own a bike shop, be a single dad, add a bunch of other random shit and let ferment into a bitter brew).
It was a different course this year, which had me a little nervous. Apparently there would be some really "fun" singletrack. Knowing that people have described Heartbreak in Pisgah as "fun" along with my nemesis, Croyle, I was wary. Turned out the new singletrack was great..... save that it claimed the brand new Racing Ralph Snakeskin I'd mounted three days ago. I pumped it up, hoping the over-abundance of Stan's I'd filled it with would do it's job. The hole was big enough that the Stan's was spraying out like android blood.
Sometimes tube changes are smooth and easy. Boom, boom, boom. This one was not. You'd think I'd never done this before. It harkened back to the days of waking up at 4:30am to go running before work. Me sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the four pairs of socks I was holding in my hands. "Wait... I need shorts," I'd tell myself, grabbing another pair of socks and staring at them like "this means something."
I finally got the tube in and inflated, thanks and no-thanks to my dirt clogged Genuine Innovations Mountain Dildo.... took off and burned some matches going up a few hills.
"The Pivot guy is right ahead of you" someone said. On a long stretch, I could see Dan's Toasted Head kit and Ernesto's blue and white Pivot kit. Yes.
I pushed through some of the trail sections, despite feeling pretty wiped.
Then....
Coming down the ever taxing Panther Run, a super rocky doubletrack that goes on and on, I felt the tell tale slop in my rear wheel.
Damnit.
I didn't even have a tube this time. Approaching Aid Station 4 I'd told myself "grab a tube.. and fill up both bottles." Guess what two things I managed not to do.
I started walking.
Finally I managed to get a tube off another rider, promising to pay it forward if I found him stranded further down.
Probably 15 minutes after flatting, I was off again. But this time there was no more hill to make up some time. It was all downhill, and unless I jumped on some kind of geared train, there was no catching anyone. I rode most of the way solo, finally drafting off of a geared rider's wheel for a short section of gentle decline.
I rolled in under 9 hours, which wasn't too bad, considering. And 10th SS.
But Dan and Ernesto came in 3rd and 4th.
Wilderness... she knows I want a podium. And she always teases me.
The race... it's just one part of the weekend.
The venue, the friends, the backdrop... all come together to make this event something special. And I plan on coming back. I mean.... she did say she loved me... In her own way.

Check out Dirtwire's "killah" video: Wilderness 101: the Documentary.

Special shout out to some of the awesome people I saw this weekend... Strauber, Vicky, Jimbo, Mike Bush, Hannah Banana, the other Watts, Chris Scott, Ramponi, all the Cadre bastardos, and finally, the awesomely kick-ass Sarah Kipp, who I hadn't seen in over 13 years.
Thanks for putting up with my run-down ass for the day. 

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