I’ve been riding a long time. Close to twenty years now, I think. I’ve gotten to the point where — if I’m not racing, and the heat doesn’t sap me — long rides like The White Rim don’t crush me. I rode the whole day on my rigid singlespeed feeling just fine. Not tired, not beat. At the end of the day, my legs weren’t particularly cooked, and my butt was not even remotely chafed (and I don’t use any kind of chamois cream).
I carried the right amount of food and was never hungry. I was never thirsty. I was never cold, nor was I ever hot. I put sunscreen on at the right times and never got sunburned, in spite of the fact that I was out in the direct sunlight for more than ten hours.
Yep, I guess you could say that I’m an extremely experienced cyclist.
And yet, I am often a complete bonehead.
I have an example to illustrate this point.
Nobody Saw That, Right?
A good-sized group of us was riding together. The Hammer, The IT Guy, Paul, Kenny, Heather, and some others. It was a good section of the trail to talk, because it was a wide, flat, straight, and in general unremarkable stretch of red sand, which had been packed down by trucks and jeeps rolling over it.
I was on the leftmost side of the road, a foot or so to the right of the edge of the road, which ended in a lip up to the sand and cacti beyond.
Naturally, I was talking. I’m pretty sure I was being very funny, because as I was riding I looked over to The Hammer and lifted an eyebrow after saying something, which is our special signal that “Fatty just said something he thinks is funny, so you should humor him and laugh.”
And then I found myself nose-wheelie-ing. I had veered left and had plowed my front wheel into the sand on the side of the road.
After which, I found myself flying over the front of my bike. Even as I flew, I thought to myself, “Well, this is the dumbest wreck, ever.”
After which I found myself lying on my chest in the sand. Totally unhurt. I had just experienced the least painful endo in the history of the universe.
And also, now that I think about it, probably the least necessary endo.
I sat up, laughing at how ridiculous I am and how foolish I looked, got back on my bike, and got going again.
It was then that The Hammer said, “Well, that was strange.”
“You mean the way I just did an endo in a place nobody should ever endo?” I asked.
“No, it’s what you were doing while you were mid-endo,” she replied. “You were laughing. The whole time you were crashing. Just laughing out loud.”
So. While I may be a clumsy buffoon, I’m at least a clumsy buffoon with a sense of self-deprecating humor.
The last mile of this 100 mile (I often consider how strange it is that this ride works out to be pretty much exactly 100 miles, but it does) ride is the climb up Horse Thief Trail. Switchback after switchback. Hard climbing for right around a mile.
I love that climb. I can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off a hard day of riding than to take whatever you’ve got and leave it all out there by climbing your heart out.
And then, right at the top, you’re back where you started.
A perfect ride. A perfect day.
I, of course, had gotten myself pretty thoroughly dirty by doing a belly-flop into the sand. But everyone was dirty — there’s no getting around it.
But — being brilliant and stuff — I had brought something along to make the long drive home we had ahead of us a lot less grimy: a big ActionWipes Multipack. One or two of these is enough to pretty much de-grossify you after even a big ol’ all-day ride.
And it feels so good to get the grit and sunscreen and salt crust off you before you head home. Not to mention the way you’re kinda saving your butt from future sores. Which is a good thing.
[Full Disclosure: I got this pack of ActionWipes for free. But I'm totally hooked. If you ride and then won't be near a shower for a while, ActionWipes are the best thing ever.
I Am A Hero
[Full Disclosure: I learned the following trick from Kenny].
My second favorite tradition (first favorite: brats the night before the ride) of RAWROD is what comes after the ride itself: on the way home, we stop by Ray’s Tavern in Green River.
Ray’s has great burgers and fries. And really, that’s pretty much the only food they serve.
There’s something about that place. People who have been there know what I mean.
The thing is, it’s always busy in the evenings, especially at the end of weekends as lots of people coming home from Moab stop by there to reward themselves for an incredible day / weekend of riding, climbing, rafting, or whatever else it was they did in Moab over the weekend.
The wait for your burger can be substantial.
So, as soon as I got phone service, as we were driving toward Green River, I called our order ahead. Told them we’d be there in 45 minutes.
Our food was served as we arrived. Hot cheeseburgers and fries waiting for us at our table.
Never before have I been so admired.