Sunday, June 8, 2014

Single Speed Shenanigans

It has now been 15 months since I broke my leg.  For those readers without children that translates into one year and three months in normal human time.  As a childless adult I have always struggled with the insistence on referring to a child's age in months.  It can get a little out of hand when someone refers to their 3rd grader as a 96 month old.  According to that math I'll be celebrating the big 444 next month.  As much as I love the number four and its repetition on this particular occasion I feel it would be a lot easier for everyone if I just said thirty seven.

So about my leg. I determined that the ultimate test of my recovery would be a trip to the mountains aboard Stumpy.  There really is no better way to evaluate the status of a once broken limb than to climb a few thousand feet on a rigid single speed.  Most doctors would agree.  In the interest of making the ride as manageable as possible I decided to add a little extra meat to the front of my bike in the form of a Panaracer Rampage.  2.35" of trail eating rubber generously donated by The Greek to the everybody wants Dave to stop whining about his skinny front tire fund.

Stumpy looking fast and nasty the night before the ride.

Early Saturday morning The Greek and I set out from Charlotte in his Honda Civic Adventure Mobile on our way to Wilkesboro.  The plan was pretty simple:  ride all the trails!  For those familiar with the trail system at Kerr Scott you'll easily see that our chosen route was relatively ambitious.  The rest of you just pretend and nod along in a knowing manner.  Our plan was to park by the dam and ride the Dark Mountain Loop.  From there we would take the OVT to Shiner's run, reconnect to the OVT and get on the pavement after passing Bandit's Roost.  A quick road ride up to Warrior Creek followed by a fast and flowy lap and a five mile road ride back to the car would tie it all together.  Piece of cake.  All we needed were a few provisions and we would be on our way.

He was selling candy.  Seemed legit to me.

Knowing that our lap of Dark mountain would bring us right back to the car we each decided to take just one bottle and leave all of our food behind.  With this being my first time in the hills in more than a year I was just a little bit excited.  I also had a coffee on the way to Wilkesboro.  The Greek chose poorly when he bought that coffee.  As soon as we hit the trail head I was off like a shot.  I kicked mercilessly at the pedals as we attacked the first climb.  And the second.  And the third.  Did I mention it was 90 degrees with what felt like 99% humidity?  Not enough humidity to be rain but enough that you are hot and wet all the time. And not in a good way.  

We made a strong push around the loop and when we got to the final descent we dropped like stones. Perhaps it was the excitement of being on the trail or maybe it was just the coffee but the decision was made to ride back up the final downhill and hit it again.  Fun was had.  Videos were shot.  We debated giving it one more run.

Back at the car we loaded up for the rest of our ride.  Knowing that the longest part of our day was ahead of us we each grabbed two full bottles and a somewhat random assortment of nutrition.  In my never ending quest to find IBS friendly foods that come individually wrapped and fit nicely into a jersey pocket I have come to love fruit snacks from Trader Joe's.  With a pocket full of tasty fruit goodness, a couple Lara bars and two packs of mustard I was ready to rock and roll.  Mustard you ask?  For cramping I reply.  It works, look it up.  Or just ask a scientist.  

Freshly stocked we rolled over the dam and hit the OVT.  Only a few feet after my tires hit the dirt I found a bandanna laying on the side of the trail.  It was new.  It was clean.  It went around my neck.  It will come in handy later.  You'll see.  But you'll wish you hadn't.

A few miles of fast, swoopy machine cut single track brought us closer to our next destination.  It was at this point in the day when the heat started to become painfully apparent.  Both of us were dripping with sweat and turning bright red but for reasons that escape explanation neither of us seemed to notice.  I kept hammering away at the pedals with The Greek in tow until we hit the car-laden stretch of pavement that would lead us to Warrior Creek. With a mile and a half of easy spinning in our legs we were ready to rock when we got to the entrance gate. Drank a little water, ate a few fruit snacks.  Felt a little rumble in the B area of IBS.  No worries, that'll pass.

Six miles into the Warrior Creek loop I learned an important lesson about the impact of heat on IBS.  What I found out later was that high temperatures can cause your body to restrict blood flow to your intestines. What I learned on the trail was that a random trail side bandanna can come in very, VERY handy.  Let's just say that bandanna is now buried in the forest and it's original owner is better off without it.  

After what will forever be referred to by The Greek and I as "the incident" I was feeling much better.  I'd go so far as to say I was feeling bouncy.  Like a cat bolting out of a litter box with seemingly boundless energy after doing unspeakable things.  This is also the part of the ride when I turned my brain back on.  On hot rides I typically use one bottle for hydration and one for dumping water on myself.  For the rest of the loop I squirted water through my helmet vents at regular intervals and brought my body temperature into a manageable range.  Feeling much better I stopped to snap a couple pictures of The Greek carving the turns that made this trail famous.

 Up or down, they are fast either way.

As we wrapped up the Warrior Creek loop and turned on the road for our spin back to the car we were both feeling pretty cooked.  The heat combined with the days effort had left us both tired and hungry.  Dining options in the area are a touch limited but there is one local haunt that always hits the spot.

That is a Tyson chicken processing plant in the background.
The aroma is quite distinct.

BBQ, french fries, hush puppies, slaw and a "recovery" soda.
I'm sure this is exactly what Jaroslav Kulhavy eats every day.

Overall the ride was a huge success.  In all we covered 37 miles in around six hours.  We didn't break any land speed records but the fact that my knee functioned flawlessly was a welcome surprise.  My leg feels good.  My knee feels good.  My foot feels good.  Time for more running perhaps?  Oh, you know you want it.  Think of the fun we'll have sharing stories of running through the woods in tiny shorts.  I could take pictures!  I could write about it here!!  You could read it!!!  And nothing could possibly go wrong.  I can feel you judging me like a large judgmental eagle.  That is the most serious kind of judgement of all.

Is he judgmental or is he just sad?
Poor, sad judgmental eagle.
He's not majestic.  Not majestic at all.