3.14.2009

a wet window of opportunity

here it is a misty monday morning
after a slightly rainy sunday
sunday was misty as well... maybe too moist for responsible mountain biking
good thing I rode on saturday when the opportunity presented itself
but there is still a part of me that is jealous of those that made it out to the shed on sunday
here are the jumbled thoughts from saturday's ride

it is a matter of fact that I am not so well accomplished in planning ahead
this lack of preparedness often makes things hard to make happen
which makes it such that some things are missed
those things that happen often happen at the spur of the moment
those thing often come about in a rather rushed fashion

late in the week I heard via the DCMTB list serve that there would be a pre-ride opportunity on the course where they host the Baker's Dozen multilap relay outside of Leesburg
this notion appealed to me
towards the end of the week there was an exchange between Cargo Mike and I that created tentative plan that maybe we could meet up for a ride
there was not much mention of availablity
but we did know that there was only a small window of opportunity
this ride option was scheduled from noon until five on saturday

the weekend came on fast which is interesting because so much of the week moved slow
on Friday evening I left a message on Cargo Mike's voicemail saying that I would call him the following day about an afternoon assault on this flowy single track course out by Leesburg Maryland
it was said that the course would be open from noon until five
a number of people from the DCMTB squad were gathering around one pm
it seemed like I was a possible afternoon approach after a morning of that involved a kid's birthday party
I knew I would not be able to make the one pm meeting time
but I thought I would be able to get out there for a few hours in the late afternoon

so... while lisa went to yoga the boys and I drove out to Bowie Maryland for a birthday party at Pump it Up
it was a blast!
it was all variations of the modern moon bounce in a warehouse room
there were two rooms! each of these rooms had a different assortment of moonbounce like contraptions... each of them having obstacle courses and each of them having mazes
the kids had a blast and I had a pretty good time myself
there was cake and pizza and the standard kid party flare after the moonbounce action
after the cake I called Cargo Mike to see if he was game to ride

Cargo Mike was game but had some stuff to do
which worked out fine because I was still not near my bike in the District
a meeting time for later that afternoon was arranged
Cargo Mike needed to drop his car off for repairs in Arlington so we decided we would meet and leave out from there
after I finally had my gear selected an my biked on the car I drove across the bridge and guessed my way through Northern Va until I found Mr TIre right next to the Java Shack
we loaded the Element right outside of The Java Shack
I had considered a coffee but had already started one of those silver and blue cylinders of Red Bull... the sixteen ounce cylinder

while I was driving to the meeting spot the cloudy style on this moist cold day started to spit
it was slight very slight... enough there it merited the use of the windshield wipers a tad less than the intermittent setting cycled for
we finished loading up the car and pointed towards Leesburg
first we had to find Route Sixty Six
as we moved faster the windshield moisted at a faster rate
I was reminded that I need to replace my wiper blades

as I drove Cargo Mike tried to call Plum Grove Cyclery to see if it was raining out there or worse yet if they were asking people not to ride the course
no answer... we stayed our course crossing our fingers that the rain was not coming down hard forty five minutes west of Washington DC

the rain never really picked up
when we arrived at the race course we were pleased to see the pine needles were dry and plenty of people were hammering loops around a course that had experienced only a tad more than a sprinkle and not so much where the tree canopy was able to catch that slight rain
more than anything we were excited that we did not arrive to a closed gate and a set of closed trails

we pulled in and started to unload the car along side of cars that were being loaded
people stepped out of lycra while we stepped into lycra
beers were being passed around while we were finishing hydration and granola bars

as excited I was to see so many familiar faces I was anxious to get on the trail
parked next to a collection of OUTLAWS who had just finished some fixed and non fixed laps
we exchanged hellos and gathered course condition information as we suited up
the camera stayed in the car
although I arrived with two cameras I opted to take no photographs
my window of opportunity was slight
my time was best spent riding rather than socializing and snapping photos
there was some socializing
but not enough time for me to play blog photographer
there is not enough time to be all the people I want to be
at this moment I wanted to be a man on my bike in the woods
so I made that happen

Cargo Mike and I took to the woods with me in the lead
as much as I like to ride fast... I can not ride as fast as Cargo Mike and I was not sure I wanted to expend the energy it would take for me to Cat and Mouse with him as he does not need to slow in the technical sections like I do
he pace does not alter as obstacles approach while I often need to take a little speed check
so... I lead into the woods
which allowed me to dictate the pace

earlier this week there had been discusion of us car pooling up and riding this course that neither of us had ridden before
there had also been talk about Cargo Mike taking a wrench to the rigid Surly Karate Monkey before the ride
the events of the morning and the need to drop the car off at the shop in Arlington in the afternoon left for no time for such assistance
instead I was forced to manage the adjustments myself once I got home from the children's birthday party

the time in the stand was short... it is a single speed so there is only so much that can be done
I am not a mechanic
so I got things to a functional best possible

so there I was energized to be on the bike
the fears of the weather and the rain were all for not
the trails were in great shape and there was plenty of time to loop the course a few times
time was limited
we were suited up and ready to ride somewhere around three on an afternoon where there was limited time to ride because things shut down at five

out of the car into some gear and onto the bikes and into the woods
spinning on a single speed
low maximum speed or do I say low top speed
so there needs to be some efficiency and conservation
so I tried to conserver energy my maintaining energy
trying to trust the tires on the turns

it is a single speed... there is not much more to the single speed than a chain and some brakes
if the wheels are straight then it can often be nothing more than backing up the rear wheel to tighten the chain and then clean and lube that chain
and finish with an adjustment to the brakes
oh of course... the tires... can't forget the tires
tire pressure is vital!
I still do not know the answer to the riddle of tire pressure
correct tire pressure aids in trusting those tires on the turns

so cleaned... lubed... and less than professionally adjusted I was setting the pace
having brakes that did not really work aided in my effort to keep my hands off the brakes
not neccessarily trying to go super fast or super hard I was trying to relax in the turns
trying to corner without braking before the turn
it is hard for me to trust the tires
especially after a bit of rain on an unfamiliar course
especially since I know nothing about appropriate tire pressure

we were riding pretty good I was not slowing Cargo Mike up too much and we were finding plenty of room to pass when we approached riders taking the course at a different pace than ourselves
until later in the course when all of our encounters were head on
HEAD ON?
but the arrows were pointing our way
were pointing our way?
yes... were... were and no more
we continued to ride into head on traffic wondering where we had taken a wrong turn curious about where we got off track
thinking we would loop back and learn the error of our ways then eventually deciding that enough people that these trails were a one way loop and we best follow suit
so we reworked the trails we just rode in the opposite direction... which was the correct direction
we finished the lap and started another only to end up making the same wrong turn again
now... I can not recall how much we rode backwards or how much back tracking we did
I do know that we flowed through some stuff either direction and doubled back to enjoy some of the challenges a second time

it was a good day on the bike
while I was on my tad crusty rigid Karate Monkey Single Speed
Cargo Mike was on a Surly Cross Check with some burly cross tires or maybe a little more than a tire that you would ride for cross but not a mountain tire either
a little skinny in the rear and fatter up front
oh... and he was riding it fixed
the kid was schooling me and doing it on a fixed geared bike
it was pretty to watch
a few times after slowing to scratch our heads and refigure where we went wrong I chased Cargo Mike's rear wheel... he makes it all look easy
it is like he is not only steering the front wheel but somehow also steering the rear
there is tracking that does not occur with my riding style

the fixed gear grabbed the earth and accelerated through any and all obstacles
an occassional kiss of the pedals but not so much considering that the set up is fixed
pedal kisses are bound to happen in any technical rocky section
a pedal kiss on a fixie would not just throw me off balance in that scenario but also toss me from the bike

there were more familiar faces
everyone was smiling... there were a great number of unfamiliar faces smiling as well
but their smiles do not generate smiling on my face as much as the smiles on familiar faces
no need to get Romper Room and say who I saw
just know it was a good showing of various members of our local cycling community
lots of energy on the bikes
lots of great energy shared between the people

somewhere in the second attempt at a assault on the course we were finding ourselves once again going against the arrows
riding the exact same loop making the exact same error
just when the flow was feeling good Cargo Mike hit a sharp rock on a technical section with a little less finesse than that skinny cross like tire could hold and pinch flatted
in minutes we were back on the trail and moving forward again

it was getting late
mike and figured we had done a sloppy collection of turns that may have added up to just under two laps
it was getting late but we were more familiar with the notion of passing the first left turn option and following the arrows forty feet down the jeep road to the second left hand turn
the turn that takes you so the arrows point your way instead of against you

the bikes and body were doing good
we figured we could scare in one last lap from and get out not too much later than the 5PM shut down time
then it happened
not sure what caused it but the freshly replaced tube was letting air out the valve stem
either a faulty tube or something happened in the flat fix
the valve stem was torn from the tube and the wheel was flat in a matter of seconds
whatever happened we were not going to finish this last lap which would be the only actual complete lap we would do on this day
instead we turned it around

cargo mike had brought one spare tube and the only tube I had was a 29er tube that would be too much tube for that skinny tire

I asked it Mike wanted to march it back to save the tire and the tube
Cargo Mike was fine with riding what is an old and tired wheel on an old and tired bike that does not get much use in his bicycle rotation
there was some consideration to take the road back
but the road that was passing through the trail where we were looked like it looped further away than backtracking on the trail
so Cargo Mike lead the way back and set the pace
with only a little energy off the previous temp Cargo Mike was rocking his fixed gear with a rear flat through the woods
cornering at speed
hoping the fallen rocks
floating over any and all log obstacles
zipping through the various rock gardens
I would have certainly destroyed my rim and crashed on the first turn in the process
and that is if my rig were spinning single
Cargo Mike was riding things FIXED!

enough on this....
we got back to the car to find that we were one of the last cars left in the grass field that was functioning as a parking lot on this day
a grassy field that was field with cars on our arrival was nearly vacant
people were loading up
people were loaded up
it looked like we were off the trails at the appropriate time
the flat happened late enough in the day that there was no feeling of anything missed
we had some solid turns and logged some healthy fast miles

with the car loaded up we headed back guessing our way across 15 at Point of Rocks and then through Northern Montgomery County
it was a far more attractive route than the Dulles Toll Road
we managed to guess our way back on not entirely familiar roads without much backtracking without getting lost
not sure if White's Ferry was open... but if it had that route would have been the quickest trajectory back into the District

I need to go grab an IPA that I had poured before I came up here and typed this as I finished putting my older son to bed
lights out

now a beer
and
tv on
maybe to proof if I find the time another time

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