After convincing a bunch of people to do a Marshall ride on Saturday by promising spring-like conditions, The Weather Channel booted me in the nuts and worsened their forecast every day leading up to Saturday. We were standing in the parking lot, a rather large group, ready to go in high 20’s temperatures. As the Danes say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
Against all odds, I pointed us in the right direction to the first rest stop. From there, the directions get really easy but the route gets really hard. Mount Weather went by pretty painlessly, although everyone thought we’d be going down hill after we hit the top of the steep rise at about Heart Trouble Road (which is the best road name in NA, bar none). El Ocho took the KOM points at the house after Heart Trouble, with four of us finishing in a knot and the others trickling in soon after. No one believed me that we’d have false flats and net elevation gains for about the next 20 minutes, so people were bitching the whole time until we got back down to the highway.
Between Mt. Weather and Blue Mountain, I hung at the back. I’d been at the front pretty much since the parking lot, and my overly strong Gatorade mix was sending warning signals to the bridge. Being of generally iron-clad constitution, I’d never mixed the suffering of steep climbs with gastro-intestinal delight, and wasn’t looking forward to it. Saving energy was paramount in my mind. Just like last time, I got on my pace as soon as we hit Blue Mountain Road and stayed on it the whole way. Cameron (a.k.a. Solomon) hit the front and pushed it pretty hard just before the dirt section, which was impressive. El Ocho, Chris N and I stayed about 25 yards behind him, with others stretched out pretty far back. Over time, the three of us got to the front and stayed there. Ocho decided it was easier to shout encouragement to me rather than taking over at the front, soI got hung out on the front the whole time. With about 150 yards to go I decided to hit the gas and see if anyone could come around, which no one could.
The rest of the ride is always a bit of an anticlimax, with the next highlight coming at Foster’s Grill. The FPG and a friend had cooked a whole bunch of really good food so three of us went back to the pad, watched football, drank beers and ate like pigs all evening.
By the time I met up with the Espresso Ride on Sunday morning, I was wondering exactly how long I would last. As is always the case, everyone from the Marshall ride said they’d do the Espresso Ride the next day, then didn’t. El Ocho and I were the only ones to do both. Out Bradley, I went to the front for unknown reasons and set a tempo that hurt but not too bad, hoping that it would keep everyone in line, which it did. The two of us took the shortcut route and chopped it off at around 40 miles and a little over 2 hours total ride time. A weekend of great riding, which wasn’t over yet.
When I got home from the Espresso, the FPG was ready to go mountain biking. Sweet. Load up the stuff and roll to Patapsco. The first turn of the pedals told me maybe this wasn’t the greatest idea in history. The first time the tires hit the trail confirmed it – the whole place was muddy as hell and I was cooked. We had a great time swearing at our pedals, falling over, going sideways off camber and getting bruised for a couple of hours. It had been a long time since we went mountain biking together and it’s really a lot of fun. Humbling to get dusted so badly on down hills by one’s wife, especially now that she’s in really good shape from a ton of yoga and running and can hang on the up hills. If she ever decides to give racing a try I think we’d have a real monster on our hands.
So now I’m limping around like Supergimp with a seriously achy right hip and some dead ass legs. I was supposed to get in a whole bunch of saddle time this weekend and boy did I ever. Lots of stuff going on at work this week, hopefully the nice weather will hook us up and keep us on schedule. I think next week is a rest week. Thank God.