the bad place

the bad place

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Van of Constant Sorrow, Part 3: Get Down, Posers.

I was having a moment.

The kind of moment that...  catalyzed as it may be by the sudden and persistent creaking of a bike, has nothing to do with anything happening in the myopic now.
The kind of moment.... that if you think about it for even a second, has everything to do with the contained multitudes that you're currently running away from (or towards?)
The kind of moment... that is very much the culmination of your very poor compartmentalization of  "life stuffz."
The kind of moment... from which no possible good can come.

The kind of moment... where you pick your bike up over your head and throw it into the woods.

(le sigh)

We were riding Syllamo. And it was actually glorious. Sure, we had discovered at least 1000 different species of spider. Specifically, species of spider that like to build webs across trails. And sure, we'd descended a very long way and were about to pay for that. And sure... my bike really was creaking. Like... a lot.
But the trail was sooooo good. Sometimes tight and claustrophobic. Sometimes exposed bench cuts with views of the Ozarks. Rock slabs.Roots.  Gnarly in places. A goddamn pleasure in others.
Rich had a theory. It was my paragon rocker-dropouts. They were just dry after days of riding in dry conditions. I should take them apart and apply a thin layer of grease. My counter-argument that "Yea, but I already done that!" fading on my lips as I reconciled the fact that yeah... I had... but very, very long ago.

My chagrin at the tantrum was minimal. I mean, I wasn't proud. But I had too many other things on my mind to feel embarrassed by this particular outburst. That's forever the beauty and curse of a longish ride. Even as you navigate the crux of some rocky drop, or technical switchback, or grind your way up a loose, gravely climb, you're still always still processing the stupidity of "ugh... money!" or "I'm failing as a parent!" or "shit... did that order get placed?!" or "what am I even doing with my life?!" or "why don't they fucking respond to my text?!"
(Though I admit, I was disappointed to have lost a water bottle to my stupidity)

Hi Rich.

Rich... Hi.

Hey Rich. Hi.


We finished up just as the sun was going down. Loaded the bikes. Drank recovery beer. Cleaned up. Consulted the Five Apps.* Plotted progress.
*(soon, I promise)
I jumped into the driver's seat and turned the key... to a familiar wingey chug with no spark. Again. Then again.
Then... again.

This time, I'll admit, I felt a bit deflated. I still had confidence that the van would start. I just didn't know when. And it's one thing when it's just me... but other people were relying on me. Not to mention that the cuteness of this "not starting" phase was (pardon me) starting to wear off.
Also it was starting to rain.
Rich ate Spaghetti-o's and drank a Coors in the back, and incidentally, did a marvelous job of not seeming stressed while I rested my head on the steering wheel and said super intense and broody things like "well, poop."
It was dark now. And the rain was getting worse. And my mood was sinking.

Trying again... for no reason that I can discern, the van fired to life... (that'll do, pig).

Leaving Syllamo, we twisted our way through the dark hills and on to a campground at Bull Shoals. Accustomed, as I am, to simply wet-wiping my taint and sleeping in whatever parking lots look quiet and convenient... being in proximity to a bathroom and a shower was a decadent treat. And I availed myself of both; spending too much time trying to stay warm beneath a very weak stream of not-so-hot water, drinking my not-so-cold beer. Not nearly as satisfying as I'd hoped, but alas...
It was raining in earnest now, and that made for good sleeping. There's something immensely cozy about being warm and dry inside a vehicle when it's pouring out. Although... throughout the night, I kept feeling this occasional drop of water on my face. I attributed it to the rubber seals in the sunroof and side windows of the hightop on the Adventurewagen. The ones I need to replace fairly soon. But as it turns out.... I'd simply left the driverside window wide open, and the wet I felt was just the wind blowing rain everywhere. Like... EVERYWHERE. No wonder we had been so cold in the wee morning hours... Rich disappearing into the cocoon of his sleeping bag, and me piling any and all blankets I could find on top of me.

Admittedly, the wet driver-seat and gear was dampening my already dampened morning spirits, but the van-coffee helped. I sat on a tablecloth that lives in the van for no real reason, Rich navigated the labyrinth that is paying for a campsite, and we drove onward to Bentonville.
As we got closer to our destination, I might have asked Rich to check the weather at least 50 times. Because it was still shit outside. Cold and gray and wet. Really wet. He assured me there would be sun, but I was dubious. Just before pulling up to our hotel, we crossed a threshold in the clouds, and suddenly the sun was out. Gloriously so.

Once in the hotel room, I could tell Rich was in his happy place. He was no longer completely out of control of his destiny. I got it. He bustled about, unloading things and organizing, making us cups of shit coffee... while I just stood in front of my pile of things and stared into space.

Off to the pro-meeting... our first obligation of the day. Though there was some confusion as to why it was an obligation, seeing as we weren't pros, and our designation as "media" was extremely loose at best. I mean... does my internationally ignored blog count as "coverage?" We stood around and did our best to put names to faces of various pros. There's Geoff Kabush. Wait... is it? Where are his chops? Is he bald now? He looks so young. Is he younger than us? Then how has he been racing for longer? Was he just a fucking kid back then? And there's Kate Courtney. No wait.. that's Kate Courtney. Nope. Right the first time. And there's... the guy from Red Bull with the mustache. Lachlan McMustache. No. Payson McMustache. No, wait, that's the guy with the mustache. Shit, there are a lot of mustaches in here. So who's that guy? Does Lachlan even race mtb? There's that guy. Long hair O' Houlihan. Have I met him before? Oh hi, Kaysee. Hi Vicki. There's... Wait, that guys a pro? No way.
Knowing that pros were looking at us and thinking the same thing. "Those guys? No way."
Rich did get a call out from the race promoter, Todd, during the meeting though. "Dicky! I've been trying to get you to come to one of my races for years." Everyone turning around and scratching their heads in confusion. Dicky sinking into himself.

Once out, I demanded we go find food and beer at Pedaler's Pub.

Because I needed some fucking curry fries.

Next up: Part... goddamnit, I can't keep this up. How does Dicky do it?
Part something... featuring the night before and the morning after. Promise.

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