our baby is all growed up
April 28, 2008
Many winters ago, not sure how many, maybe 8? we took Eric, my brother in law who is not Rick Sunderlage, out mountain biking. Riding up corner canyon at night, up the old goat trail, is not a great first ride to take someone on, but Eric was obviously fit and athletic.
He did so well, Rick Maddox dubbed him Sleepy, because he rode smoothly, quietly, and didn’t talk much.
But Sleepy had a love affair with golf, and a hectic work and school schedule that kept him from fully embracing the MTB way. He had the tools, he had the talent, but he didn’t have the time.
Late last Summer, Sleepy got himself a Jamis rigid singlespeed, and, like it does for anybody who tries it, singlespeeding made mountain biking all shiny and new, and he couldn’t get enough. That’s the SS way.
But then Winter came, the trails closed, and Spring came late and wet, leaving many of us ill-prepared for the annual rite of “let’s see who got fat this Winter.” That is, RAWROD.
Sleepy had never done more than two, three hours, tops, on a bike. And, inauspiciously, last week, his Jamis broke almost in half. But we hooked him up with a friend’s Gary Fisher Rig, SS rigid, of course, and he was good to go.
Here we are the night before:
RAWROD went clockwise this year, from the top of the Mineral Bottom switchbacks, 13 miles up Mineral Bottom road, 9 miles south on pavement to the top of Shafer, down Shafer, and around. The Mineral Bottom road is pleasant when done first, the paved road is just annoying, and Shafer is downhill
so naturally we were all happy and fresh when we got to Mussleman Arch, about 30 miles in. (Another pic from Kris–I didn’t use my camera much.)
But it’s mostly up and VERY rough for the next 10-15 miles before the buff stuff to White Crack, the lunch spot, and with about 10 miles to go to lunch, I pulled a bit ahead, so Sleepy could suffer alone. No one likes riding with a chatterbox when you’re in the pain cave. So for about ten miles or so, Elden and Brad rode just ahead of me, and Sleepy rode just behind.
At lunch, Sleepy pounded the soup, a sub sandwich, some Tums (for calcium–nice anti cramping medicine), and lots of Brad’s Carborocket. He looked (I don’t have the pics yet, but I will), um, tired. Of course, we ALL looked tired. But at White Crack, over 50 miles in, Sleepy had exceeded his previous one day mileage total by about 30 miles, and his previous one day riding TIME total by about 3 hours. And we were just over half way.
I left him alone in the pain cave for the next ten miles, a mostly uphill push to Murphy Hogback, but whenever I looked back, I could almost always spot his green argyle jersey. An inspired choice, that. It’s like belling the cat.
When he hit the base of the last half mile run to Murphy’s (the steepest, hardest part of the entire day), Sleepy gamely gave the opening pitch a shot. And it shot him right back. He got cramps so bad in both legs that he fell over like he’d been hit with a bat in both knees. The red truck support wagon was right there, and the driver jumped out and stretched Sleepy’s legs so that he could get upright again. I’m pretty sure that if he hadn’t had help stretching right there, he’d still be out on the mesa. If anybody has pictures of the big sag wagon driver stretching Sleepy’s legs at the base of Murphy’s, I’ll pay top dollar. I use Paypal.
Me cresting Murphy’s:
At the top of Murphy’s we took a group photo
and I asked Sleepy how he was, and I mentioned, discreetly, that it looked like there was room in the truck if he needed. He shot me a venomous look, and said “Whatever, I’m fine! I just had a cramp.” I wish I had a picture of what he looked like. You could hardly see his face, because he looked like someone had sprayed his face with cement powder. Only it wasn’t cement powder, it was the sweat and salt from his body.
Apart from one medium sized hill, the next 20 miles from Murphy are mostly flat or rolling. We did stop about ten miles after Murphy to throw boulders off a cliff. KanyonKris took this picture:
As I pulled away from the rock throwing spot, I spotted Sleepy’s green argyle just behind. Every time I thought he was done, he bounced back. I kept thinking, “who IS that guy?”
About ten more miles to Potato Bottom, and the Green River, and several of us pulled over to regroup. And about 5 minutes later, Sleepy rode up. Amazing. I looked him up and down, and said “Dude! We are gonna make it! We are NOT gonna die out here.” Although, I wasn’t sure, since we still had to climb Hardscrabble, and the Mineral Bottom switchbacks.
We rode together to the base of Hardscrabble, and started up. When the going got really steep, I got off to walk, thinking I wanted to save my juice for Mineral, although, really, the truth is more like, I had no juice. But Sleepy stayed ON his bike, for almost all of Hardscrabble, walking only the loosest and steepest portions.
Heather Gilbert took this shot (thanks Heather):
From Hardscrabble, it’s a big downhill, some sand, and then an interminable eight miles or so of flat along the river to Mineral Bottom. The flat was more annoying than easy, since both of us ride a fairly light singlespeed gear ratio. You get crazy legs pretty easy on the flats.
But we finally got to the base of the climb, where we both got off our bikes and sat down for a while, trying not to look at the switchbacks:
I figured I could salvage all of my pride if I could manage to ride it bottom to top, without stopping. So I told Sleepy I’d seem him at the top, and headed out. There were times when I actually started crying, and had to take my sunglasses off because I was fogging them with tears, and another moment when my ipod nano in my pocket rubbed the pocket the wrong way and turned itself all the way up, and I had to take the ear buds out to save my ears. And at each switchback, I could look down and spot the green argyle jersey, steadily making its way up the climb.
I got to the top, found a water bottle and doused myself, and sat in a camp chair for a while. But it wasn’t more than about 5 or 10 minutes and the green argyle jersey crested the last switchback and rode into camp.
It’s one thing to pull a 100 mile ride completely out of your ass. It’s another to pull a desert offroad 100 miler completely out of your ass. But to pull a desert off road 100 miler out of your ass on a rigid singlespeed?
Who is that guy?