the fred ride; to fell and back
After the Wednesday night ride got rained out, I had Thursday's Callaham Challenge to look forward to. At the appointed time, I swung a leg over Stripe and got in 25.5 miles or so.
Friday evening I took a little time to set some things up on the bikes. I rolled the Trek out to the front yard and hosed off last year's mud. After wiping it down, I experimented with a half-link I had in my parts bin and determined that if I had one the correct 3/32-in size, I could probably dispense with the chain tensioner. I took a little more time to reset said chain tensioner, to re-adjust the front hub bearings, and to lube the chain. I also set up Belle for Saturday morning.
I meant to get up at 6:30, but the bed pulled me back down. I didn't rise till 7:00, which gave me time to eat my oatmeal and take the assorted pills I take each morning - but no time for coffee. It was almost 8:00 by the time I rolled Belle out and set off for Fred's house on Durst Avenue.
There was a large group of riders gathered on Fred's back porch. I said hello to Fred, his wife Sandra, Milo, John Lake, Jim, and some other folks. I talked at length with Rick Flowe about what rides were like 25 years ago in the Greenwood area.
At length, it was time for us to go. We gathered and sang "Happy Birthday" to Fred and set off. Fred had distributed cue sheets and maps, and he had also marked the 30 and the 65-mile routes. Of course nothing goes quite to plan - some of the riders misinterpreted some of the markers and got in some extra miles.
I was not one of them. I rode fairly close to Fred, who was taking it easy - for Fred. It was a pretty good route, out across a couple of bridges to the Waterloo area, then ba
ck around in a loop before coming back in the way we went out. There were some stiff hills coming up off the bridges, but I felt pretty decent even on the long climbs. I may not be fast, but I'm getting to where I can rock on along at my own pace reasonably well.
I wound up riding back in with Dewey Yeargin, husband to Despina, who ran a coffeeshop I played guitar in a lot about 10 years ago. He was in good spirits, and we had a pleasant enough time riding back in. I pulled in to Fred's long enough to sign out and headed home to run errands and do some yard work. I had 33.25 miles for the day.
Today I drove out to the Rock with the Trek and a full CamelBak. Ainsley was waiting for me with his battered Diamondback single-speed conversion. Jim and Campbell were aboard their dual-suspension rigs. Ainsley took time to show me his new On-One Midge bars he'd gotten for his Mercian custom he has coming along - nice bars, though we agreed it would be nice to have a bit more length on the drops.
When you start at the Rock, you immediately get to climb. It's not as bad as I first thought it was, and I felt pretty good. My first moment of really feeling it was when I hit the root farm section, which is thankfully near the top. I relaxed a bit when I passed the "From the Plow to Pines" sign and settled in for the duration. Somewhere in the opening stages of the ride, we ran into Milo and his wife. We managed brief greetings as they headed back and we headed on.
We were going to ride down to the end of the trail down near the Fell Hunt Camp. I rode behind Jim for a bit and got a lesson in why single-speeds and 27-speed dualies are sometimes incompatible on the same rides. He kept dropping down onto his granny and twiddling up hills - which pretty much kills momentum. After a bit, the group opened up a little wider and created more room.
When we were about to start the section that leads to Memorial Bridge, Tommy Davis came racing up the gravel road and joined us. We bounced on. I was glad I could manage the roller-coaster section, even with the gravel the Forest Service added to control the erosion. I felt like I was warming up a little, despite feeling the thumping my lower back was taking as we rocked along.
I could tell I was a little rusty on some of the trails. There were a couple of times I couldn't quite make the turns, and had to bring the bike to a halt as I started leaving the trail. My handling got a tad better later on.
Ainsley and I had dropped off the back of the bunch, but the rest of the guys waited at the end of the trail. After a few minutes of talking about the Fred ride, we turned and headed back. Ainsley and I let them go on
up the trail and we settled into the rhythm of riding back. I had been dreading the long climb back, but surprisingly, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Along the way we ran into Jeff and Sean Ronan, Milo (sans fiance), Grattan and some other members of that crew. They were heading out at a brisk pace.
On the way out I had noticed the yellow balloon at the edge of the trail. We stopped on the way back. I took a couple of pictures while Ainsley put on his best documentary announcer voice and intoned, "When the feral balloon reaches old age, it can no longer fly and is forced to take its chances among the small animals of the forest floor." I posed next to the balloon on one knee with a stick held rifle fashion for Ainsley's pic, which may someday show up, and we headed on, the balloon left for others to enjoy.
We were almost to Memorial Bridge when we encountered two riders we didn't know. They were younger cats, maybe college age. Ainsley gave them some information on where the routes went and we parted company.
At the Bridge, I wanted a breather. While we rested for a moment, the two younger guys came back out and passed us. Moments later, on the approach to the roller coaster, we passed them and scorched on up the hill. Ainsley went ahead, I dug deep - and got up the roller coaster, gravel and all. I couldn't help it, I let out a huge yell I later described as "my very best Incredible Hulk" shout.
Later, Ainsley said, "You wonder if those guys noticed they got
passed by two guys on single speeds?"
"Two older guys on single-speeds?"
"Yeah. Don't you think it might be a blow to their confidence or their pride?"
"Don't forget," I said. "They got dropped by two older guys on single-speeds where one of them was a heart patient."
We both liked that one.
We wound up with 14.7 miles at around 8.2 mph average speed - which isn't bad for a couple of guys on single speeds, one of whom has had a quadruple bypass.