I'd been alone for a while... breathing hard....pouring sweat... occasionally making involuntary noises. I'd either abandoned or been abandoned by all of my partners and was now just going at it alone. You know... really punishing myself.
It hadn't started out that way. There had been a messy tangle of us, all working together. Then things got hard, really quick. I was, I admit, the first one to Erect. I was feeling frisky. It all went south from there.
Whew... that's a good start. I got all hot telling that story. But... I'm not feeling particularly frisky right now. Nor particularly clever. I guess I kind of blew my load earlier. Heh.
This entire ride was ridiculous, obviously....based on nothing more than stringing a few towns together. Towns with names that would force even the most reserved rider to crack a joke when you rode through. In much the same way you might moo at a cow as you ride past a field... and then immediately feel slightly stupid. "Shit. Was I just that guy?"
|I'm told that this graphic alone, name notwithstanding, was the impetus for some noted cases of unfriending.|
I call it "weeding out."
Initially my plan had been to ride from Horneytown to Climax. But damn if going from Horneytown to Climax isn't just a giant fucking mess. (Heh.) I tried to come up with an appropriate route a few times, but would always get frustrated with either the amount of traffic, or with how generally ugly the ride was. So one Saturday, Eric Morrison was having some post-ride beers in the shop and I told him my plan. Before I knew it, he had all the towns in NC with slightly off-kilter names pulled up on his phone.
The rest, as they say... is me on a hilltop with fifteen girls.
(Or guys... such as it was. And it was closer to 50.)
This year.... I've become a cyclist again. The way I want.
Not that I'd stopped being one before. But too much time at the shop and other obligations were making it difficult. And more than that... I'd just stopped loving the bike. Or... I loved it... but the way you love your spouse. The one who sleeps in another room and yells at you too much. The one who gives you grief for going riding instead of spending time together... and then spends that time together enumerating all of the things you're doing wrong.
I absolutely still loved it. It just made me sad.
But this year...
A large part of it was the shop. Finally getting to do at least some of the things I wanted.
A large part of it was staff. Finally having a crew that really lets me step away when I want. (Thanks Ben.)
And a large part of it was this bike.
The last custom Ritte Snob built.
It was years in the making. Lost for a while. Then found. Then hanging in my shop as I dealt with other things.
Then finally built and ridden. And ridden again. And again. And again. And again.
It was early 90's when I got my first real road bike. It was a Bridgestone RB-1. And fuck...I fucking loved that bike. I got so monumentally lost on it too many times to count. Riding north and turning onto any road that looked halfway interesting. Toeclips. Bar end shifters. 25c tires. I would look at a gazateer for a few minutes... then start riding. When I hit the Virginia state line I would turn around. Often hitting the Va line a few more times as my internal compass failed me spectacularly.
When it got hot, I would take my tshirt off (yes... tshirt) and tie it around my stem.
I liked riding with people, but mostly liked riding by myself. Because then I wouldn't have to stop and wait for them. Or I could take that wrong turn without them flipping the fuck out.
That's what I missed... and that's what I've been getting back to.
And well...it's restarted my love affair with the bike. And I am ever a fan of love affairs.
I rode the Snob down to Erect... over to Whynot... and on to Climax... and said, "this is good."
The rest, as they say... is me naked with textbook poems.
I was pretty surprised by the turnout. I'd anticipated 20ish people. Friends and friends of the shop. There weren't going to be shorter options. It was all the way or nothing. But... pretty soon word got out and people I didn't know were talking about showing up.
Fuck... DICKY was actually going to drive up from Charlotte to do a road ride. A road ride. Which equated to roughly two weeks of bitching about how much he hates road riding. Nevermind that he made it his job. But... there's an allure...even when we don't understand it.
Like a kid with a boner.... Unsure how to process it or what it means.
("Why does that girl in my class make me want to roll around on the floor with my pants off?")
There's no doubt that roadies are obnoxious and dumb. But riding a road bike... is good. Especially if you let it take you to those places you want. Even if it's not a paved road.
|#grabble #tinylittlerocks #unpavelearnment #didyouknowthatvitamingisactuallyamineral #wattsisadick|
50+ riders rolled out of the shop at roughly the correct starting time, the heat already building quickly.
I made a few announcements... trying to intimate that despite the penile nature of the ride, there were to be no dicks, so ride accordingly. That and a vague announcement about a possible road closing...something we would deal with when we crossed that bridge. Or not, as it happened... the bridge being out.
The start had me more nervous than anything. Big groups inevitably mean creating an impassable rolling vexation for motorists. And as much as I don't give a fuck... I do. Even as a very consientious cyclist, it's never fun to get stuck behind a slow moving mass of riders. We pissed a few people off and got out of town.
And made our way to Erect.
A few racers from East NC had showed up and kept the pace high and fun. I stroked it a little going up a hill and tried to get it hard rolling into Erect. I was the first one there, crossing the arbitrary line I had made up in my head.
So... I pretty much won.
I had this lingering fear that the store in Erect would be closed, having never ridden through on a Sunday.
Sure enough, it was, but there was a spigot, so we were ok. We were supposed to back off heading into Whynot, but the group got split. I was just putzing along, jabbering to Rich and others and didn't notice.
My intention was to finish with the lead group, but felt a little compelled to make sure everyone was doing ok. The folks near me said they needed a store stop, so we detoured over to one. I started getting antsy. The other group wasn't here. Which meant they were rolling up the road, probably briskly. I needed to be with them. But I also needed to make sure everyone wasn't dead.
Eventually, when the group rolled out, I announced that I was going to try and catch the lead group.
I put my head down and took off... working decently hard.
I hit Climax alone... sigh...
Then I ran into Gardner, who had taken a wrong turn. A few people had. Turns out that whoever had written up the cue sheet had put a wrong turn on there. A RIGHT on Coleridge was marked as a LEFT.
A litany of "FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!" on my part, and putting my head down to ride even harder.
Apparently some people had gone over 25 miles off course. This had actually shortened the ride, but still. I was admittedly a little curious as to how they went that far down the wrong road... the turn that followed Coleridge being not even a mile down the road.... I probably would have turned around when I didn't hit it. But...I'm also a guy who ignores cue sheets, so I can understand.
Everyone made it back safely.
|...all of which had been graciously set up by this lady.|
Eventually everyone else left and Rich, Bill Nye and I stayed.
|Ryan had worked a 12 hour shift at the Nukular place before jumping in the car with Rich and riding 113 miles.|
|"This is your Tinder profile, isn't it Watts?"|
When it was dark, we made our way to my house, let Mango growl at Ryan until they were best friends... and went to a bar down the street for more beer.
Then we came home and passed out.
|Sleep well, little prince.|
Methinks that Erect? Whynot Climax? will become an annual shitshow.
Yeah.. there are some things that need to be done differently... but I'll work on my technique.
Faster, slower, harder, gentler... more lube... being a little more attentive to the needs of others.
The thing is... I can get to Climax by myself any time. But getting someone else there? That's the fun part.
(yeah... I've used that one before. Suck it.)