Thursday, September 10, 2009

making up for lost time

went up to Brevard NC this weekend to hang out with some friends in a quaint little cabin. of course, i brought my bike so i could finally ride some trails at Pisgah. as luck would have it, i never did get to ride. it was a combination of factors. no one else brought a bike. we didn't have any firm plans for hikes. i had no idea where i was going. but, most of all, i felt guilty ditching my friends, including the people whose cabin we were staying at and of course my special ladyfriend. does this happen to you? i should feel guilty in this situation, right? i don't want to be "that guy" who bails on social plans to go biking--at least not all the time.

prior to leaving Durham, i did get several recommendations on places to ride from JD. the downside was the suggestions were described by JD as "pretty durn epic", and since JD is a man who loves 100 mile mountain bike races and will go out for a casual 5-hour sunday ride, i didn't know if i could swing that. not to mention the fact that i felt extra guilty telling my friends that i was going out on a bike ride with out them and i might return somewhere between two and seven hours.

in any event, the hiking was nice. on a particularly steep descent, we moved aside for a cyclist climbing up the trail. i recognized the guy from cyclocross races and we chatted for a bit. my friends were surprisingly not surprised that the one dude we see mountain biking is someone i know. this was a funny coincidence, but the main impression it left on me was that i've got to get training for cyclocross season.

after getting abused on the Tuesday Night Ride, i knew my fitness was lacking so figured i could get some good training in on the mountain bike. i headed out to the Carolina North trails after work. my goal was to get a good, hard ride in. get in shape, after a weekend of modest activity and immodest food and beer consumption.

i don't ride the C-Nor (my new pet name for the Carolina North trails) often enough to know the trail system well, but i can at least recognize places i've been. it's not like Beaver Dam, with a few, well-defined loops which can easily be linked together. it's a dens network of well-made trails, which can easily lead to confusion for the easily confusable. in short, it offers choice, an option i found terrifying. i've attempted to diminish my possibilities for difficult decision making when on a mountain bike by eliminating shifters. suspension seemed too complicated, so i opted for a rigid bike for a while, but i soon faced the daunting decision of ride and destroy my hands or not ride and continue my goal of becoming a hand model. so in essense, a suspension fork actually simplified things. it's difficult enough to pick a decent line on a trail to avoid crashing, so having to actually pick the trail to pick a line on gets tiring.

if i sound a little grumpy, here is my quintessential Andy Rooney moment: why is it that they make mountain bike bars so wide and mountain bike trails so narrow? i bring this up because, after squeezing through a number of closely-spaced trees, i clipped one with my handlebar. it was one of those crashes where you're on the ground before you know what happened. it was also one of those crashes where you're sliding along the ground long enough to realize "hey, that's my body making that scraping sound". after friction overcame momentum, i checked to make sure my sometimes dislocatable shoulders were in place. check. then i slowly got up and verified that i was okay. scraped-up, but check. i walked it out for a while and was soon passed by a runner that i had passed earlier. i think i tried to make some joke about how running appeared to be the quicker way through the forest, but he only grunted in affirmation. i was actually kind of surprised, and now that i think about it, somewhat offended that he didn't ask if i was okay. either that, or at least call me a jackass. (as a side note, i saw a lot more runners than cyclists on the trails, except for in the parking lot, where i saw a quite a few cyclists engaged in their pre-ride pumping and preening.)

with blood mostly dried and done soaking through my BCC shorts, i began the slow process of trying to find my way back to the car. it's a long way out, especially when you don't know where you're going. (on the other hand, these trails often have the habit of spitting you out too quickly when you actually do want to keep riding.) the one mountain biker i asked was kind enough to give me good directions and i was on my way. by the time i was nearly back at the trailhead, i actually considered riding some more, but my joints were starting to hurt and it was starting to get dark and i realized with my luck that day, i'd probably end up crashing, getting lost in the dark, and getting taken advantage of by werewolves.

back at home, i bandaged my wounds, watched Obama talk about health care reform, and was thankful that i wasn't more injured and that i have health insurance. woke up today with a sore throat and feeling generally crummy. i'm no doctor (although i am The Professor (although i'm not a real professor (yet))), but i don't think these symptoms are related to the crash, which means i probably have the swine flu. joy. i'm hoping for a quick recovery because i hate having to get back in shape.

none of this would have happened if i had just ridden in Pisgah.


MonkBali said...

So nice story. We are with you. cycling is the way how to health up the body.

DukePirate said...

Go Chris! Go health up your body!