A Note from Fatty: Part I of this story is here.
I always look forward to getting to Musselman’s Arch when we ride around the White Rim. For one thing, it means that, distance-wise, we’ve completed a pretty significant portion of the ride — 30 miles. For another thing, it’s usually around then that the day has warmed up enough that you can get rid of armwarmers, kneewarmers, and whatnot.
And for yet a third thing, it’s the first place where the riders regroup to talk and get something to eat. Everyone’s still excited for the ride (as opposed to exhausted and wanting to get it done).
And then there’s the big reason: actually looking at — and if you’re brave, walking out onto — the arch itself:
This year, I didn’t walk out onto the arch.
Beyond The Arch
Kenny — who is the organizer and undisputed boss of this ride — told us we’d be stopping at Vertigo Void (the location of my most criminal moment ever, a few years ago) for lunch. Which comes after another 25 – 30 miles of riding.
This is, I’m pretty sure, the best part of the ride for talking, due to the fact that it’s not particularly technical, and it’s more-or-less flat. Not to mention incredibly scenic.
And on this day, it was even more perfect for riding and talking than usual, due to the weather. For the first time I can remember, the weather on the White Rim was absolutely perfect. Warm, but not hot — maybe 71 degrees (not Celsius).
Even more importantly, there was exactly the perfect amount of wind: enough to cool you and feel good against you, but not enough to kick up the sand or slow you down.
It was wonderful.
I got to catch up with my friend Paul, who was riding his first 100 mile mountain bike ride. In fact, it was his first 100 mile bike ride, period. Or maybe I should make that period a comma, because he was doing the ride on a single speed. Impressive!
It was fun talking with him in no small part because he and I each have a kid — with similar personalities — who just finished (or is finishing) his first year of college. Which seems so odd to say.
The Hammer, meanwhile, did not get to talk much at all, because she was discovering that a singlespeed gear set up for climbing (32 x 22) is not a singlespeed gear set up for rolling on the flats. Astonishingly, though, she kept up, turning an incredibly fast cadence the whole way.
As we rode along, looking at the immense, beautiful landscape, I occasionally wondered how many miles we had gone.
But not often.
See, I had forgotten to bring a mount for my bike computer, and so was riding without tracking any of those things I usually am pretty obsessive about (how far, how much vertical, how much time).
And I really, really liked it. It was nice, not knowing — or caring — how far along the ride was. In fact, I’d say that the ride went quicker because I didn’t know.
Lunchtime at Vertigo Void
One of the oddities of riding around the White Rim is that the average cyclist can travel faster than the average sag wagon driver.
What this means is that after all the cyclists got to Vertigo Void and had taken the requisite scary look down from the overhang, there was still about half an hour of nothing to do ’til the truck caught up to us, bringing us more water to drink and our lunches to eat.
We used this time extremely productively.
Sometimes having nothing to do for half an hour or so can feel pretty darned awesome.
Still, after a while, you kind of start hoping the truck will get there soon. You know, because you’re getting pretty hungry.
And then a joyous cry went up: the truck had been spotted! For The Hammer and me, this meant:
- Subway Sandwiches: We had bought these at the Wellington Subway (the one inside the Chevron gas station) on the way to Moab the day before. I find a Subway Club to be the perfect mid-big ride food. The trick is, when you have the sandwich made, to not have them put mayo or mustard on it, but instead to give you packets to put them on yourself when you eat.
- Macadamia Nut / White Chocolate Chip Cookies: I can’t place the exact moment these replaced the chocolate chip cookie as my favorite, but I think it was sometime in my mid-thirties. Anyway, The Hammer had brought along about thirty of them, of which I believe I ate my fair share. Approximately.
- Diet Coke: Why a no-calorie cola in the middle of a big ride? Because I was getting calories elsewhere. I wanted a Diet Coke because I really like Diet Coke. The Hammer had Mountain Dew.
I ate just enough that I felt moderately gross getting back onto the bike. As if my legs were squooshing into my belly just a bit more than they usually do.
Red-Letter Day for The IT Guy
I don’t think I’ve ever charted the elevation profile for the White Rim. This is due to the fact that the elevation profile would look a little bit ridiculous: A gradual up, a big drop, a long flat, two blips up and down, and then one big climb.
But those two blips and the big climb are pretty big deals. There’s a lot of chest-thumping rights for cleaning (i.e., riding all the way up without stopping or putting a foot down) those pitches.
And The IT Guy cleaned all of them. All three. Boom. Boom. Boom.
This is awesome on its own merits, but is especially interesting because The IT Guy has been complaining a lot that since his crash last August, he just hasn’t been able to get back into shape and didn’t think he could do the whole White Rim.
And then he cleans the big three of White Rim: Murphy’s Hogback, Hardscrabble, and Horse Thief.
Pretty impressive, but I’m going to give him only partial credit since he wussed out and started the ride at mile 30 (i.e., he skipped the easy part of the ride).
And also, I’m going to post this picture of him I took as he was complaining the night before that he just didn’t feel very strong:
PS: Tomorrow, I shall post part 3 — the conclusion — of this story. It will contain an anecdote that features me endo-ing, as well as a moment where I was a hero.