"You will see God between aid station two and three."
"Will God be holding a pickle?"
"Yes, a kosher dill."
Don, Aaron and I pile into the white Hatchback Miata. The car's tiny engine whines as Don Powers puts an angry foot to the floor. Gas mileage drops under 14 mpg. The All Knowing Grumbler laughs an oily laugh from its parking space in Donagal.
We arrive at our cheap hotel room and watch them Duke boys get Boss Hog's money back from the Texas swindlers. I spend $3.00 trying to get a $.75 Reese's cup out of a ancient vending machine. Apparently in the 80's vending machines used an "18" button instead of "1... 8."
In the morning we head to Michaux. When we pull into the parking lot next to Rob and Chrissy, the place is covered in cold fog. Visibility is under a hundred feet. Seeing Rob's new VW GTI Don says "Look, Rob has a hatchback Miatta to!"
"Nah, Volkswagens are cool." I say.
"Fuck you." he says.
Some guy parks in the puddle next to us. He jumps out of his car and gives me an enthusiastic high five. I have no idea who he is, but I'm happy to get the hand slap.
We pile our bikes on the road and line up for a Le Mans start.
photos by Tomi
We're off. I get in front after a few feet, and win the race back to the bikes.
Unfortunately, my bike is boxed in by three other people (I'm looking at you Rob Spreng.) I'm 3rd into the single track. Running starts are awesome. Easiest hole shot I've ever had.
I ride alone up some damp double track, then hit the first rock gardens of the day. I'm terrible. I can't ride the wet rocks today. Not good.
I stop to let some air out of my tires. That helps a little. Buck and company pass me. I hang on their wheel for ten miles. That helps a lot. We wind through some loamy forest, and I try to roll over some of the big boulders on the trail. I slip off every time. After endoing into a log, I decide to take the cheater line when I can.
We hit the first aid station. I feel like nuts. Everybody stops, but I skip the aid. I try to drop them on the big gravel climb. I slowly reel in a geared guy. At least I can kinda climb.
Back into the single track. It's twisty and starting to get more technical. My fender falls off. I try jamming it in my pocket, but it woln't go. It falls out of my hand but I can't waste any more time. I'm in first at this point. Buck yells something from behind me. I try to go a little faster.
I'm slowing down. It's raining softly. I haven't ridden rocks in almost two months and it shows. Buck catches up to me and I stop to let him pass. He's crushing it. The boulders are almost 10 feet high now and theres no way around them. I slide down a few and manage not to die, but I figure it's only a matter of time before I smash my face into something.
I start hiking a lot. Topher and I few other guys go by. The boulder field is another 7 miles long. This is wonderful I think. Thanks Don and Aaron. I'm so glad you assholes convinced me to do this. Shoulda stayed on the couch.
It's 12:40 when I finally get to aid two. 24 miles in and I've been out here for 3:30. Man this is slow going.
I'm cracked now. I don't have enough energy to ride through the rock gardens or up the hills. I walk almost everything that's not smooth and flat. Rob yells something. I look down and see him on the switchback bellow me. Damn it. Figured that was going to happen.
I get a little burst of speed. Its lasts about 30 seconds. Rob passes me. "How much farther?" I ask.
"Oh like 8 miles" he says.
Damn it. That could take a long time. I keep trudging along. It starts raining harder.
I roll out on to a road. Another single speeder passes me. I'm barely turning the pedals over. I stop at the last aid station and eat a little snickers bar. "How much farther?" I ask.
"Only like 3 miles." the aid station guy says.
"Oh. Ok. I guess that's not too bad." I say. I'm dazed. Completely exhausted. I pedal up a bumpy road then hit a section of less technical single track. There has to be a final kick in the balls section. But it never comes.
I ride past the Bushwaka. In clean clothes. I'm confused. "What the fuck are you doing back here already?" I yell.
"I flatted." he says
"Lucky." I say.
I finish and pace around the hatchback Miata for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to take my pants off. God never did offer me a pickle.
I take off my shoes and my toe nails are bleeding. I might be back next year. I need to redeem myself and not suck.