Things That Have Been HappeningPart 1:Weeks and weeks ago, Emily and I went to California to attend Sea Otter, which was cold and windy and which, somewhat ironically, is held on the grounds of the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, one of several field sites for the Skip Barber Driving School. Skip had skipped being there that weekend, a choice I admired him for.
It was cold. It was windy. I got sunburned. I got the HaHa bed at the Days Inn Monterey. This bed had a broken box spring frame and sagged deeply but only on one side, making sleeping something of an uncomfortable somnambulant acrobatic trick, like pilates or Sociology 101. Despite my attempts to convey to the manager the uncomfortableness and sheer difficulty of sleeping on this mattress, both in terms of the good money we had paid to stay there and appealing to his humanity, it was not replaced -as promised- during my stay. We didn't have our bikes along but did have an underpowered shitbox of a miniature SUV, with so many blind spots I imagine it might have been designed by Stevie Wonder.
You may think all this meant we didn't have a good time. Not true. In truth it was laffs more often than not (hearing Brauer ask a waiter if they had "frites" or just regular fries was a show stopper). And it was nice to meet some new folks, and put faces to names of others. One thing I discovered about California is that if you're in California and you mention to a Californian (most of whom do not seem to be native to the state) that you have never been to California, you will almost invariably receive an astonished "Really? Never?!" in reply. This is not the sort of response that would ever occur to anyone in Minnesota. People here would totally believe you have never been here before.Part 2:After Sea Otter, I went with the new kids on the block (Surly peoples Fleck, Hairy Jim, and Aaron the Pie Plow) to the mountain bike capital of Fruita: Fruita, Colorado. There was riding. There was drinking. There were late nights and not so late nights, and, one night, lots of Iron Maiden and rocking out. Fleck and Aaron did us proud by jumping into the Clunker Crit, Fleck clad in a kilt and Aaron in, eventually, a camouflage hunting cap and a very much too tight robins egg blue shorts-n-shirt combo sporting the message "Dancers Have More Fun!" on the shirt, with "They Totally Do!!" on the shorts. Good times. I will also mention here that I got the broken down, sagging HaHa bed at the H motel, the crappiest shithole in Fruita. If you have not experienced two weeks on the worst beds you've ever 'slept' on, you are missing a part of life that is more challenging than those paltry 24 hour races you keep doing.
A notable day on this trip came early on. We rode Horsethief, then Mary's Loop, and discussed riding another trail before packing it in. The decision was difficult to extract, as most in the group were on the fence, not wanting to blow their wad too early but also not ready to quit riding for the day. In retrospect, it may have been better to think on it longer, perhaps ride Rustler's or even chicken out and head back to town and food and rest and beer, but the clock was ticking and we had to do something, so eventually when everyone half heartedly agreed to one more loop we just sort of stopped using our brain things and settled on Moore Fun because it happened to be the closest trailhead and therefore disallowed the possibility of anyone changing their mind. Let me just say here that if you have not ridden Moore Fun you may not realize it is somewhat technical. Jim did notice the smallish sign at the trailhead indicating it was an Expert Level trail, something I had downplayed during our discussion. I allayed his concerns by pretending I didn't hear him.
It is true, however, that Moore Fun presents some challenges. Sometimes, when you have already been climbing and climbing and your lungs and legs hate you and you're straining hard simply to go up there will appear in front of you a ledge that you have to get up and over somehow, and sometimes there will be a rock standing right there, in the middle of the trail, just up the ledge, and it will stare at you as if it is eating an egg salad sandwich and cannot be bothered to move, and you and your bike will try but fail and fall, or worse give up and dismount, and you will become dejected and frustrated and bitchy, perhaps vocally even though no one is around except the rock and the rock will not care because it is a rock and rocks don't have to care. But it isn't just one rock, it is loads of rocks. Small ones, big ones, still bigger ones. And none of them move or even acknowledge you, and the trail doesn't go around them ever, just at them. In fact, Moore Fun almost isn't a trail at all. It's more of a bad joke or an angry threat, a rock garden locals send mouthy chest-puffers out on to take some of the wind out of their sails. I'm sure somebody can ride the whole thing, but for me it was as much hiking as riding, and hiking it in slippery hard soled shoes, pushing my bike, feeling sort of ridiculous at first, but only for a little while. Before long that feeling soured to contempt and self loathing and the ridiculousness was a happy memory. This transformation was due in large part to the fact that although I had struggled and crested the hill and finally begun to go down, something I had thought might make me feel better, the riding did not become easier. It actually became harder because all the unmoving rocks and ledges were still there but now I was angled faceward and gravity and inertia still conspired against me. And yet this was not my first time on Moore Fun. I knew what to expect. That didn't really make it any easier either. By this time I had stopped looking back to see where the rest of the peeps were and had decided against waiting for them, thinking one or all of them might want to revisit, with fists perhaps, the discussion that had led to our being here in the first place. Three quarters of the way through I ran into a couple of guys riding the other direction who asked how much more trail there was. Their voices were tired but there was still hope in their eyes. I didn't have the heart to crush them by telling them they hadn't yet arrived at the really difficult part, and since they had already penetrated inescapably deep into the trail I lied and told them they were over halfway. That seemed to make them happy. We met them days later and nobody mentioned Moore Fun.
We finished. That is as good an ending as we could have hoped for. The next morning while we were loading the bikes into the rental Jim mentioned his desire not to hurt himself if at all possible and said he'd appreciate it if we could stick to trails that weren't quite so technical, a discussion I immediately disregarded as crazy talk on his part, perhaps brought on by altitude or the self deluding caution popular among sensible people. For the rest of the week he would point out at the beginning of each trailhead that it was marked as "difficult" or expert level", commentary we mostly ignored. Jim's fears belied his strengths, and he rode our legs off whenever the trail turned skyward.Footnote:Upon returning home, we thought the excitement would be over. But then Emily had an incident wherein her appendix decided to secede from the union post haste. The doctor explained to her that the now useless appendix is 'like a dangly sock that sometimes fills up with poop juice and must be removed.' Right! So they removed it. Went in through her stomach so now she cannot laugh without doubling over in pain.
Things have settled and Emily is healing. And that brings us to now.In the now, You have been purchasing more bikes than before, despite nervous talk like this.But in local news, as if to refute that, there's this bit of news, which may only be happening due to the huge 'sudden' increase in gasoline prices, but which will no doubt go no where because it isn't 'fair', as if that were a factor in the first place. Perhaps I'm being sour. Let's hope so. Of course, there is an established track record.This is something:And finally today, a special segment on Surly News: Missed Connections. Location? A big lonely couch.