Ask anyone who has ever spent any time with me at all: I am a wonderful person. I am friendly. I am thoughtful. I am good-natured and generous to a fault.
I am the the freaking Boy Scout Law, personified.
Except for thrifty. And reverent. I still have work to do on those.
But if you had encountered me last Friday, after — along with Cori, Kenny, Steve, Bob, Paul and Jud — I rode the famous Gooseberry Mesa trail near Hurricane, Utah, you would have found me in a foul mood. A foul mood indeed.
I had my reasons.
Things Start Off Well
The ride started out great. It was cool — but not cold — on Gooseberry Mesa; I dressed in shorts and a long-sleeve jersey.
My friend Bob had flown in for the weekend of riding. Bob and I are cycling doppelgängers — we don’t even have to adjust saddle height to trade bikes — so I had brought along three bikes for the weekend: my Superfly 100, my Superfly singlespeed (aka The FattyFly) and my WaltWorks singlespeed.
For this ride, we wanted to have both a singlespeed and a plush, full-suspension geared bike on hand, to trade around for different moves and different moods. So we went with the Superfly 100 and the Waltworks (because the Waltworks is geared lower than the FattyFly).
Bob wanted to start with the singlespeed, so I went with the Superfly 100.
Right away, I realized that this kind of riding is the natural habitat of the Superfly 100. I hadn’t really fallen in love with this bike until now because I had been riding trails that didn’t really take advantage of suspension.
Fifteen minutes on the bumpy, ledgy, rocky trails of Gooseberry showed me that this bike is, in fact, extraordinary. I was loving it. It made me a better rider: I was cleaning stuff that I normally just don’t clean.
Bob took a turn at the Superfly 100 and came to the same conclusion: this is a remarkable bike.
After riding the Superfly 100 for a while, switching to a rigid singlespeed feels really weird right at first, especially since Waltworks geometry is a lot different than Gary Fisher geometry.
That said, I was still trying stuff, and not doing too badly at it.
In particular, there’s a tricky move where you have to come around a sharp right hand bend, bringing yourself to a near stop as you do so, ride across a short patch of sand, and then suddenly put everything you’ve got into powering up an extremely steep, 20′-long sandstone pitch.
On my first try, I slid out about halfway up, then slid down on my left side, giving me the right to claim first blood for the trip.
On my second try, I didn’t even get as far as my first try. But by then, people were gathering around, watching.
So on my third — and according to the rules, final — try, I put everything I had into it.
And I made it. On the singlespeed.
I could feel a good weekend coming on.
The Importance of Proofreading
We rode to the overlook, where it’s traditional to take a group shot and get something to eat. Here’s the group shot:
And here’s Paul, eating a Honey Stinger Waffle:
I believe it’s possible he’s enjoying that just a little too much.
As I was taking these photos with my phone, I noticed that I had surprisingly good signal. “Now would be a great opportunity for me to text a photo to The Hammer,” I thought. So I had someone take a photo of me, and I sent a nice little “I love you” message along with it, addressed — of course — to Lisa.
Unfortunately, I didn’t check my address very carefully and wound up sending it to Lisa Bearnson, scrapbooking guru and a former coworker of mine, back at WordPerfect Magazine.
“Um,” I texted to Lisa, “That was actually kinda meant for my wife. Not that I don’t love you.”
Wherein I Howl in Pain
I was enjoying the singlespeed now, so was taking an extended turn on it, while Bob tried — and cleaned — move after move on the Superfly 100.
Then, while going up a short — probably only six feet or so — pitch, the chain slipped off my singlespeed.
Instantly, my crotch slammed into my stem.
“Help,” I squeaked. “And also: ow,” I continued, in a high voice.
As soon as the urge to vomit passed, I put the chain back on the bike. Nobody understood why it had come off — the chain was nice and tight, and the line looked good — so we put it down to one of those flukes.
And then, on a much steeper, more difficult pitch — one you need to bring a lot of speed and power into to clean — it happened again, except this time the chain simply broke.
To get a sense of how this feels, try one or both of the following:
- Stand on a platform about three feet above a fence. Jump off that platform so as that you land straddling that fence.
- Give a large burly man who hates you permission to hit you in the crotch with a sledgehammer.
Without going into too much detail, let me simply say that I rolled around in agony for some time, my (distressingly high-pitched) screams echoed across distant mountain ranges, and my snipe is — for the second time in my life — purple.
Yes, perhaps that is too much information. You’ll have to forgive me for that. My judgment may still be impaired due to the indescribable pain I have recently been traumatized by.
Wherein I Stop Very Suddenly
It turns out that chain had broken at the master link, and was soon set right. Bob volunteered to take a turn riding the singlespeed, asserting — correctly — that I would now be far too timid on that bike to ride it with anything even close to alacrity.
And so it was that I was actually riding the Superfly 100 when — with evening quickly approaching and details of the terrain becoming hard to pick out — I rode by a bush that had grown a sturdy low branch, specifically designed to hook into the spokes of my front wheel.
My front wheel stopped. The rest of my bike — and my body — pivoted over that stopped wheel and I was slammed into the ground.
But not before I had a chance to throw my hands out in a defensive measure that, while completely ineffective at stopping anything else from getting hurt, was nevertheless extremely effective at making both my palms feel like I had executed a perfect dive from a high platform into an empty pool.
My screams rent the fast-approaching night.
“Are you OK?” asked Paul.
“Yeah,” I replied. “But I’m not having fun anymore.”
I got back on my bike and slowly rode back the remaining couple of miles. It was almost entirely dark by the time I got to the parking lot, but I was just glad to have this ride behind me.
I put the bikes up, mounting the Superfly 100 and the Fattyfly on the fork mounts in the BikeMobile’s bed. I put the wheels on the wheel mounts on the truck’s roof.
Then I emptied my jersey pockets of the food wrappers I had with me, as well as my favorite glasses — a pair of custom Oakley Jawbones.
Or rather, I should say, the pieces of my Oakley Jawbones, pictured at right, in happier times. (Oh, by the way, this is the picture I sent to two different Lisas earlier that day.)
Evidently, it’s not a good idea to land with all one’s weight on a pair of sunglasses one is carrying in one’s pocket.
“Well, at least this ride is over,” I said, meaning it. I mean, I had had — in many respects — a fantastic ride, and a lot of fun. But it just felt like I had not had great luck.
We all agreed to meet at a sports bar in town for dinner, and I drove down the rocky dirt road into Hurricane. There, in the parking lot, I climbed into the back of my truck to lock the bikes up.
Which is when I discovered that one of the wheels had come off the wheel carrier. And not just any wheel. A Bontrager XXX carbon tubeless wheel. A very nice, very expensive wheel.
My FattyFly was now a FattyFly Unicycle.
Kenny agreed that after dinner, he’d drive with me, retracing our route back to the trailhead, to look for the wheel. We would not find it. Nor would we find it when we looked again the next morning. So, at this point, I must believe that someone has either found themselves a really nice wheel, or this wheel is somewhere off the side of the road, wondering why it’s been abandoned.
And to cap it all off, the burger I had for dinner was overcooked.