“It’s all about time in the water. You can talk about the waves, talk about the weather but ultimately you just have to grab your stick and ride.” Got this advice about 10 years ago at a surf camp in Australia and it resonates with me still about most anything I do. Shut up and ride everything else is horseshoes and hand grenades.
I decided to do the EB about four days before the start because, well, it sounded like a completely retarded thing to do. Getting up at 5am SUCKED. That was the hardest thing for me. Fighting back the thought of just saying, “ah whatever, next year” was a huge hurdle. But I got over that, juiced my carrots, kale, ginger, apples, oranges and other secret ingredients drank it down and headed over to WC to join the parade.
My initial swing thought was this: nothing, emptiness, void, nada. Just another day in the saddle, and I naively thought it would be an 8 hour ride with some serious lactic acid periods that I would have to leggers thru. Well, that 8 hrs turned into 11+ with my bike falling apart near Parmer….deets later in post)
Parading down to Zilker rocked. It’s always fun to hear the hum of killer bikes in a pack and as a sound guy I was bummed I didn’t have my field recorder on me…(next year I’ll sample that sound). The cold twisted me up a little but I knew that time was on my side and the sun that sets also rises so heat was just a matter of time.
The GB was a blast. Yeah, I got lost and almost got pissed but just thought whatever, this is such a cool ride and I was pumped to hit parts of the GB that I’d never been on. (All the easy stuff I had not really done). I blasted through Mulch, took my time after that (Jedi?) and bombed Powerline. HOL was like my morning cup of coffee. Once I got to the top I felt great, and was ready for the first road leg.
Courtyard kicked my ass. Never done that 10% grade section before and I got humbled. City Park to Emma went by without a hitch and then I got to Emma and the guys that I road rided with left me after the first 100 yards. (humbled, again). I got a peek at the leaders as they were on the road coming out of Emma about a mile before I got to the trail head. Love seeing the leaders zoom by, it’s good to see those extra-terrestrial beings looking human and adding inspiration to the ride.
Got out of Emma and stopped at the picnic tables to eat a bar when Leif came over to interview me and that felt good. It reminded me that I was participating in an EVENT. Again, my swing thought was nada, just ride, but I allowed myself a second to realize that I had covered a fair amount of ground and had a shot at getting to the finish.
Got to Jester pretty quickly and connected with a group of riders, some of which I rode with to Emma, but then quickly lost sight off on the trail. Jester felt rude to me. After getting some solids in my system I just had no ability to get up Jester in the saddle so I walked more than half of it. Never had to do that before, oh yeah, the one time before that I rode it, I got up it…Humbled again.
Hooked up with Jack on his Indy Fab from the 80s and another single speed guy (no helmet with orange bike is his name). Both these guys were great to ride with and we cruised into St Eds where I got dropped on the climb up, again. St Eds was beautiful. I had not done part of that trail and got turned onto a new section and also thought about pitching that tent that was just sitting there and calling it a day to sit and sketch the view. (maybe i could sell a painting of this view I thought…gotta earn a living somehow).
Coming out of St. Eds I could not keep my mind off the pain called Yaupon to Thumper. First of all, Thumper needs a new name, I propose the follwing: “I drank your milkshake, bitch.” I loved the trail magic cooler and it felt sweet to grab a snickers and focus on that rather than the twisted turns ahead. I ended up adding about a half mile or so to the trail as I missed a turn marked “trail”. At one point I was just doubled over praying for oxygen to hit my blood when Matt said, “You just have to keep moving, man.” And that’s what I did, I just kept moving. When I got out of Thumper I thought about running around naked for about 5 minutes, but didn’t want to be a pornstar for free, so I opted for a first pump and a “hell yeah”. I probably said, ” I drank your milkshake” a few times too.
Once I got back out on Yaupon I kinda had chills from dehydration so I drank what water I had left and pedaled to the Shell station at Oaknoll and Jollyville where I saw Jack, orange bicycle no helmet… (I love you man, you really should wear a helmet. Life is precious…There I said it.), and George. Once loaded and good to go I felt awesome. I knew I’d get to the finish before sunset and I knew I’d be finisher in the longest ride I’d ever attempted on a mountain bike then disaster struck….
Right before I hit Parmer, a 6MM hex bolt that holds my rear triangle together came off and all of the sudden I look down and my back wheel is flopping like a bass in fishing boat. Holy fuck, I just completed that house of pain, and I have a cakewalk to the T-shirt and my bike fails. At first, I thought I was gonna cry, really, cry at 41 years old. That would have been funny. So I got all eagle scout on it and looked for a branch to plug into the hole to hold it together….No go bro. So I got the idea to retrace the road where the problem occurred and like manna from heaven I found one of the two bolts that had fallen out and plugged the gap. Got my 6MM wrench out and put it back in and rolled onto Parmer completely stoked that my ninja powers even existed. Then it fell out AGAIN on Parmer on an overpass with cars zooming 90 MPH past me so that my body would shake from the wind gust. I found the bolt and put it in again and watched the road for 5 seconds then watched the bolt until I got to the Walgreens. I literally rolled my bike into the Walgreens went to the duct tape, peeled off what I needed, taped the bolt into the hole, paid for the roll of tape and left it with the cashier and rode my bike OUT the sliding doors onto Parmer. Hollywood’s calling for the movie rights already.
When I hit Parmer and Mopac I felt on top of the world. I had adverted disaster and hit WC and crushed that trail. At the end I was turning over to go do Windy Loop when I saw that coveted orange arrow pointing towards the parking lot, and I knew that home was close, but I half way expected more torture like having to roll past the finishers then back down to Windy Loop. But when I heard the cheer, I knew it was over. 11hrs 42 minutes in the saddle.
Great post ride hang fellows. Feel like a million more dollars today. Next year in under 10. That’s my swing thought.