Monday, February 21, 2011

Lords of the Ring: The Two Towers

Saturday night at Hannah's going away party, word was spreading about a big Sunday ride in the work; a kind of "Pinky Ring" if you will, which sounded like it would be climbing up Wanoze, riding North to Woodstock Tower and heading across to climb up Milford Gap and riding South to Kennedy Peak. Kyle has been in my ear about doing this ride for a few months, so I was excited to finally give it a go.

Kurt being the magnificent man he is, woke me with the sweet scents of eggs and coffee, before loading up the team van and heading to the JV HQ to scoop Kyle before meeting the others. We drove up to Edinburg Gap where we ditched the vehicles and began our journey. Within the first quarter mile, Matt ripped off his derailleur hanger, so we sessioned the rock garden where I received a pinhole in my sidewall and refused to seal, cramping my style until we stopped at an overlook where I applied some rubber cement to the outside of the tire which was enough to stop the hemorrhage. I didn't recover mentally quite as quickly and I rode conservatively while I watched Matt, Mike and Kyle put a big gap on the rest of us. After a couple regroup stops and Carp's flat, I was able to loosen up a bit and have some fun. Many of us had never ridden that section of ridge in that direction and I was impressed at how different it seemed. We stopped several times to cut out some blow downs with the pocket saw before making a stop at Woodstock Tower. Smoke hung heavy like fog in the valleys as there were several fires burning in the area and from the tower we could see one burning over in the National Park.

Dropping off the ridge through the ATV park and into Edinburg Gap, we stopped at the store to consume some food and re-up on our provisions before heading across the valley and heading up Milford Gap which is a very nice climb at a steady grade right up to the ridge. A very different ridge from the previous as this one had much larger rocks and some steep chutes to either hike up or cautiously bomb down, many having deep leaves concealing hazards such as logs, rocks..... The group began to fall apart a bit, but All- Mountain Mike held down the climbs in Mountain Goat fashion with Kyle not far behind. I was a bit frustrated with my riding on the day, feeling stiff and as though I was bouncing off every obstacle in sight. Kurt took a tumble over a large log when his marsupial arms couldn't pull enough to get a front wheel atop the tree. We all had a good laugh and moved along.

At Habron Gap Mike said it was only 1 mile until Stevens Trail which is pretty much the end of the ridge. With a good deal of energy left in the tank and a feeling disappointment in my riding for the day, I stepped it up a notch and put in some extra efforts to redeem myself emotionally. Pushing hard into some downhill turns and drawing some fresh lines on some rocky bits on the sidelines I began to feel something that resembled flow. I snapped off a couple of photos at some of the chutes but I have no idea where my camera is at the moment. I believe it is in the company of my fresh rubber that was going to go on the bike this week which is also unaccounted for. Anyway, that one mile turned out to be three so I was pretty stoked. As we headed up to Kennedy Peak, the fire damage from the hunter's signal fire was obvious. Did I mention he had Alzheimer's? I cant remember. We hung at the tower and put on some clothes for the descent. The sun was also beginning to hang low so off with the glasses. And down the single track. I was starting to show signs of slumness as my arms were having trouble keeping up with the bike and the brain, so I found myself falling off Carp's wheel on the final descent. I also caught what sounded like Kurt falling off wheel as a scream rang out followed by the crunch of carnage as Carp and I took very different lines over and around a chunky section at speed. Kurt's second dramatic crash of the day. Mike Miranda from "Rad" anyone? A fine sunset road ride back to the cars with a little kick the can along the way as snow began to fall. That's right, short sleeve completely unzipped at noon and then snow. You know it has been a good ride when your head is swimming for rest of the night and your arms and legs get all swool. Since I left my camera in El Segundo, I will just leave you with a picture of Kurt from the Invitational party that I nicked from Sue's blog.

Ooops, wrong photo...

Oh yes, there was a shortage of water on the ride, so I find this one of Kyle appropriate...

So if anyone happens upon a red Specialized bag with a brand spankin' new FR4 tire and camera in it, please return it as that tire was to replace my torn Nevegal. Thanks.

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