A Note from Fatty: Congratulations to Heather Gilbert for coming up with the winning name for what we can now call the Kona Cadabra! And equally importantly, thanks to all of you for helping Heather win.
As promised — and talked about on Kona’s winner announcement — Heather’s giving it to me to raffle off for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Heather’s still nailing down the details about timing, sizing, and so forth, so expect this raffle to start sometime next week-ish.
As a fat cyclist (as well as The Fat Cyclist), moments of cycling glory seem to be few and far between.
But every once in a while, I do have one of those moments.
Like last Friday.
The Plan: One Continuous Flowing Descent
The climb up Hog Hollow seemed very difficult last Friday, as it has each time I’ve climbed it this year. Much more difficult than last year, and even more difficult than the year before that. As my knees pressed into my paunch, I tried to figure out why this was so.
Once I made it to the top of Jacob’s Ladder, though, I got the same rush of anticipation I always get when I have a giant slice of uninterrupted downhill ahead of me. Upper Jacob’s Ladder, Lower Jacob’s Ladder, and then Ghost Falls. And since I was by myself, there would be no stopping to regroup.
I planned to do it as one giant, continuous descent.
Really, there’s nothing better in mountain biking.
There’s been so much rain this year that the texture of Jacob’s Ladder is markedly different than usual. Where you can usually count on it to be very loose and gravelly, this Spring it’s been as close to buff as it gets. Which means you can tear down it.
Which I did.
As I rolled across the road that Lower Jacob’s Ladder empties onto, I was thinking the same thing I have thought after hundreds of good rides: “I love riding my bike SO MUCH.”
And yes, I really did think in bold, capitalized italics. When I’m emphatic, I’m very, very emphatic.
I Am Mr. Helpful Friendly Person
There, on the road, about to drop down Ghost Falls, were two more mountain bikers. I could tell several things just by looking at them.
- They were younger than I am. I’d guess they were in their mid-twenties. This was one certain indicator that I should let them go ahead. They almost certainly had more testosterone and less to lose than I.
- They were in better shape than I am. No paunches in sight.
- They had big-hit freeride bikes and were wearing body armor. Clearly, they were cyclists to be reckoned with.
So as a middle-aged, well-paunched, fully-rigidized-singlespeed-riding guy, I stopped, greeted them, then said the right thing.
“You guys go on ahead.”
“Are you sure?” they answered, but I could tell they were visibly relieved.
“Absolutely. I don’t want to hold you guys up.”
And so they took off.
And I followed right behind.
Caveats and Whatnot
There’s a lot of pressure to perform when someone has explicitly yielded pole position to you on a mountain bike downhill. That pressure frequently actually has a negative effect: you think too much, you’re not loose, and you don’t ride as well.
Also, Ghost Falls (as currently constructed) was built to be a cross-country trail. It has a few whoop-de-do’s and such, but I don’t think I ever think to myself as I ride down, “Boy I sure wish I had suspension right now.”
Could I get an “amen” from the locals on this?
And also, a little switch seemed to flip for me sometime last season and I have become a not-half-bad downhiller.
And finally, I have never ever ever been so comfortable on a bike as I am on my Singlefly. I’m going to have to do the complete writeup on my Singlefly thoughts soon, but the short version is: it’s an astoundingly good bike.
The Bottom Line
All these points made, however, the fact remains: these guys were outfitted for serious downhillng. And I’m a middle-aged guy who was riding a rigid singlespeed.
And I fully cleaned their clocks.
So fully were their clocks cleaned, in fact, that I started talking to the guy in front of me as we descended. Telling him about the new freeride trail, and how he should try it out. Telling him about other trails in the vicinity. Recommending local restaurants.
He pulled over and let me by.
His friend yielded shortly after.
And I finished the descent about as happy as I’ve been in months.