I’d like to be able to claim that forgetfulness is something I’ve recently developed, as one of the more entertaining (to others) aspects of middle age.
I’d like to, but I can’t. Because I’ve always been forgetful. In fact, in my late 20’s, when I first started biking and going on biking trips with friends, I became pretty well-known for my exhaustive “to-bring” lists. Before going anywhere, I’d write down everything and anything that I thought I should be bringing on the bike adventure. By the time I got to the evening before it was time to head out, I’d have something much more reliable than memory or common sense: a thorough, categorized (things to get from the garage, things to get from the kitchen, things to get from the bedroom) list.
During the past several years, my list has become simpler: food, bike, bike clothes, bike gear (helmet, shoes, gloves, glasses, bottles), tools and tubes. I have a bag or box for each of these items. When those bags and boxes are full, I must be ready to go.
By having a simple and consistent routine (and, yes, a checklist for critical things), it’s been a long time since I’ve forgotten anything.
Until last weekend.
As usual, I packed everything into their appropriate bags. Helmets, shoes, gloves, glasses and tools in one bag. Clothes (including bike clothes) in another. Food and bottles in one more.
But I made a mistake. Specifically, when it was time to load the energy bars, chews and gels into the food bag, I deviated from my normal routine of leaving the bag in the center of the room (I like to call it “the staging area” because it sounds very left-brained, and I sometimes wish I were left-brained), and instead brought the bag to where I keep all the energy food stashed. You know, divert from the routine a little, to save time.
Thus, when it came time to take everything out to the truck and I — like I always do — carried everything that was sitting in the center of the room to the truck, the bag containing all the food and bottles for The Runner and me remained where it was.
And in short, we all prepared for our outing to do a 100-mile one-day ride around the White Rim in 85-degree weather, except for not having anything to eat or drink.
The Runner and I didn’t discover my little (!!!) goof until about 10:30pm that night in our Green River hotel room, as we started doing final prep for the following morning: putting our individual piles of what what we’d be wearing and bringing the next day.
“Where’s the food?” The Runner asked?
“Grey Banjo Brothers tote bag,” I replied. But even as I said it, a mental light went on, and I knew for absolutely certain where that bag was. I.e., sitting atop a chair in the nook in our bedroom, conveniently close to the shelf where we keep our energy bars. And not very conveniently close to Green River.
I went out to the truck to verify what I already knew, and then came back to our room.
“We have no food. We have no bottles,” I said.
The thing is, Green River isn’t exactly a big city with lots of 24-hour grocery stores. No. And our route to White Rim wouldn’t bring us by a grocery store in the (very early, before a grocery store would open) morning, either.
So we refactored our plans a little. “Looks like we’re going to be eating convenience store food for 100 miles,” said The Runner, in what I’m happy to say was a totally non-accusatory voice.
Half an hour and $31.74 later, we had acquired the following:
That — along with the two Subway sandwiches, the water, and the half-gallon of chocolate milk we had in our ice chest — should take care of a couple people for 100 miles, we figured.
A Side Note to the Good Folks at Gatorade
Until this trip, I had not realized how perfectly the twist-top gatorade bottles fit into a bike bottle cage. Now that I have, though, I’d like to extend my kudos and gratitude to the good folks at Gatorade, because considering they were a “no other option” option, these bottles worked just fine. Clearly, they were designed to fit snug in a bottle cage, and they worked great.
I’m probably the last person on earth to realize those bottles were meant to be used in bottle cages, aren’t I?
Riding With Youngsters
We got up early and drove to the top of the Horsethief climb, the same place we always start the ride from during one of Kenny’s annual RAWROD trips. The Runner, her son The IT guy and I would be starting the ride from there. Zach — The Runner’s eldest — and his wife and their little boy (yes, I am a grandpa, or at least a step-grandpa which is close enough) would drive the sag wagon truck and meet us at Musselman Arch, where Zach would get out his bike and join us for the ride.
You know what’s nice about small groups? Agility. For whatever reason, a group of three people can get rolling much more quickly than a group of 30. By 6:45am, we were rolling.
Unlike a couple weeks ago, the day started warm and beautiful. I wore arm warmers, but only for the first half hour. After that, it was shorts and short sleeves. I tell you what, after a long and cold winter and a cold, wet spring, it is so nice to be out in the sun in the desert.
We got to the first stop — Musselman Arch — in good time, everyone comfortable, everyone feeling good. Everyone glad to be spending a beautiful day in a beautiful place doing a very cool thing.
I swear, sometimes I love mountain biking so much it makes me almost unbearably cheerful.
Musselman Arch is the traditional first stop for White Rim-in-a-day riders. For one thing, you’ve covered a nearly a third of the distance (though not a third of the effort) for the day and it’s a good chance to refill bottles.
For another thing, you’ve got to take pictures.
Here’s The Runner with her two sons:
The IT Guy is on the right. The Runner’s in the middle. And her eldest son — who shall henceforth be known as Kid Rock on this blog — is on the left.
The grandson in the background, chasing a lizard. As is proper.
Of course, I wanted to get in on a group photo, too:
Isn’t it awesome that I’m the tallest one there?
Anyway, it’s traditional to get pictures of people standing on Musselman Arch.
Sadly, I neglected to get photos of The Runner as she hollered at her sons to cut it out when they were jumping up and down on the arch.
Oh, and I did a cool 360-degree, zoomable panoramic shot while standing on top of the arch itself using my iPhone and the free PhotoSynth app. Check it out (you’ll need to have the Silverlight plugin to see it):
Simple + Awesome
Based on my Friday’s post, I feel like I’m almost obligated to talk about either how The Runner and I crushed her young, brash sons. Or, if necessary, how her young brash sons defied our expectations and rode like the wind.
But the truth is, it was a group ride, and we rode together. Nobody tried to bury anyone. I was impressed that The IT Guy is doing really well with his Leadville training — I think he’ll finish in under twelve hours, which is awesome — and was impressed that Kid Rock was able to ride as much as he did, considering that he hadn’t been biking much at all and in fact borrowed a (much too large) bike for this ride.
The Runner was just digging having her boys around, having fun doing what she loves to do.
We stopped often, refilling our bottles and loading up on snacks. I felt great and considered the possibility that maybe I should always eat convenience store food while on long rides (though with today’s weight being 173.6 (?!?), I have since reconsidered).
And whenever Kid Rock’s wife stopped the truck, their boy would bound out, immediately becoming a dinosaur. This, then, is a dinosaur, stalking its prey.
Later, at Vertigo Void, I had the grandson lay down and peer over the edge (blatantly ignoring The Runner’s direct forbidding of this action).
“That’s pretty cool,” said the five-year-old boy as he stared down into a pretty good approximation of infinity.
I tell you, kids these days are so hard to impress.
Where Is Everyone?
As the day wore on, The Runner and I wondered: where was everyone? It was a beautiful spring day. There was wind, but it was bad only for an hour or so. But not a single riding group ever overtook us, and we ran across maybe two other groups going in the opposite direction.
The lack of people around reinforced one of the things White Rim always conveys to me: a sense of being a really small part of something really, really big.
Here’s another panorama shot — just kind of out in the middle of the ride — that might help show you what I mean:
Gah! What happened to the Runner’s legs?!
There’s a lot of sand to ride through in the last ten miles of the White Rim, and usually it takes a ton out of me. This time, though, I seem to have learned the trick of riding through sand. I just stopped trying to make big turning motions, stopped trying to pedal hard, stopped trying to plow my way through.
And I floated along over the top, with hardly any trouble at all. Even in the biggest, deepest sand pit, I rode right through.
Everyone else kinda got cooked by the sand, however, which is too bad, and not just because The Runner discovered exactly how fluently her two boys can curse. It’s too bad because after riding through the sand, the last thing you’ve got to do is climb up Horsethief. Which is one mile long, and about 800 feet of climbing.
By itself, it’s a hard — but not horrible — climb. After 99 miles, it’s just brutal.
Kid Rock took over driving; with about 40 miles under his belt for the day, he had demonstrated he could pull a pretty serious ride out of his butt.
The IT Guy, however, had something a little more impressive to prove. He was about to finish his first 100-mile MTB ride.
He started up the climb a minute or two before The Runner and I. And it just happened to work out that we passed him (yes, The Runner finished the ride first of everyone, thereby proving everything I said in my previous post), my odometer turned over to 100 miles.
“You just road a hundred miles on your mountain bike!” I enthused. “How do you feel?”
“Not very happy,” he gasped.
A few minutes later, after he finished the cliimb (without, I might add, putting his foot down a single time), I got a photo of him.
That is one salty, tired, red-eyed IT Guy. Who has just ridden 100 miles.
Those of you who have done it know: completing your first offroad century is a big deal.
And it’s a lot of fun to see someone else do it, too.