Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ideas Gone Bad

What I lack in blogging discipline I more than make up for in ability to come up with some really bad ideas. Those two things are not related in any way and the comparison is meaningless, but I managed to acknowledge my tardiness with this blog and segue into the ride report you're about to read in one short sentence. killer.

So you have read before how I feel central mass has some of the best cycling around. Our roads are great and lightly traveled by cars and thanks mostly to team BUMS and their trail making skills, the mountain biking is top notch. Earlier this year it occurred to me that a massive loop connecting all of the local trails would be a fun challenge (turns out I was half right there) and that someday I should talk some people into trying it with me.

That someday was this past Saturday July 23rd. I got Colin, Ronnie, Pete, Greg & Karen to join me for what I predicted would be 48 miles of trails connected by 20 miles of road . Karen made it clear from the start she was not doing the whole ride but only the first half... the easy half mind you.

We rolled at 8:30 am and almost immediately got stuck in a heavy rain and thunderstorm. I think there it stopped and started 4 separate times in the first two hours, but it was better than the predicted heat. It was still a lot of fun through those first few sections which were mostly connected by dirt roads or trails rather than long sections of pavement. This was gonna be sweet.

Or not. About 2.5 hours into the ride, our group was starting to get strung out a bit, and there was a clear reduction in the amount of talking going on. I mentioned this with a chuckle and no one laughed back because it wasn't fun or funny, and this ride was heading that direction too.

We pushed on through 3 or 4 mechanicals (all Colin) and emerged from the Grafton Woods trails at about three hours in. Pete started to ask about the distance back to the house and Ronnie was having significant trouble keeping the grips on his new bars, which looked like something you'd see at the back of the head shop on Commercial St. in Provincetown if ya know what I mean. Colin asked what we all were thinking: "Is there some sort of rule that you can't run normal looking bars Ronnie?" HA!

We pulled into trek stop for any needed service and everyone is good so I assume all but Karen and Pete are continuing. When they peel off just up the road from there, sneaky Ronnie Steers follows them with a wave and a huge grin signifying that his day is done. Smart fellow that Ronnie Steers.

Lunch then three more trail systems where our primary motivation was to get to the damn reservoir at the end of the final section to take a swim. The rain was done for the day but it was getting hot and the horse flies were everywhere. These little effers have evolved to know that the back of your arms and the sides of your back are the perfect place to land and grab a chunk of flesh. I'm all sorts of chewed up back there.

So we survive the ride, swim in the reservoir and make it home at 6:30 pm, 10 hrs total and 7 hours of rolling time later. The ride as presented by Strava is below.

Now that this it's over, I have mixed feelings about how this all went down. Here they are in bullet form (copied from the wrap up email I sent the group):
-I'm glad I did it so that I don't have to wonder any longer if I can.
-Mtb riding is supposed to be fun. This ride stopped being fun (for me at least) at about the 3 hour mark. I wasn't tired as much as I was just tired of being on a bike. The trails we were on are enjoyable: I know this because I have ridden them many, many times and they are always interesting and challenging. After about three hours on Saturday, I just wanted to get it over with. That state of mind makes trails like these tedious and annoying.
-This ride destroyed me for a full 24 hours after we finished. I felt as though I had been on a 3 day tequila-fueled, sleep-deprived bender with mandatory mechanical bull rides every 15 minutes.
-During the course of the ride I consumed 2 full camelbacks of water, 2x20 oz vitamin waters, 2x20 oz poweraids, a cycling bottle full of Ensure, a (rather large) small buffalo chicken sub, some cheese fries... and still lost 4 lbs.
-The most epic part of my day may have been the chaffing.
-It was a huge relief to have everyone make it back with no apparent serious injury, though Colin's knee may not feel the same for some time.
-Unless there is a ground swell of enthusiasm for this I will not attempt this again. Just because these trails are all there so close together does not mean they should all be ridden in one day.

I will surely host long mtb rides (20-30 miles) from my place in the future: just hit a couple of these venues and then retreat back to the house for some food and a few beers. In other words, keep it real.

So in summary: this ride sucked.