Saturday, June 27, 2015

Am I a Hundie Guy? Why?

Today I was up in my happy place riding my bike. 

When I left the house this morning I was planning to climb to Marshall Pass and then climb backwards up the Crest trail to the top of Greens and down. I figured there would be snow, but passable. Messy.

As I rolled through town on the way to CR120 I thought about it. Up to Greens and down seemed short. It would be trail I haven't seen since 2013 so it qualifies, but it seemed short for a beautiful early summer day with an early start. A more worthy ride would be Marshall and then Starvation Creek, then back up the Silver Creek road to do the Rainbow. That's a hard ride. So before I hit the city limits my plan had switched.

Starvation was amazing. Early summer beauty. Everything wet and mossy. But it was also strenuous, more than I remembered. Especially since I couldn't keep myself from clearing half a dozen blowdowns.

As I got down to the junction with Poncha Creek I was thinking about calling it a day and heading home rather than taking on the hour climb back up to the Rainbow trailhead. I was tired. It was hot and getting hotter.

"Well," I sez to myself. "Well, if I go home right now it's just a bike ride. But if I suck it up and climb up and ride that trail, then it's a 60-miler with over a mile of climbing. That's an accomplishment."

So here's the thing that popped into my head. Why does it need to be an accomplishment? And I chewed on that during the hot dusty climb up the Silver Creek Road...

Some of my heroes are the people who do the Big Multi-Day Rides like the TD (wow what a finish for the men's field last night!) When I grow up I want to be Eszter Horanyi or Jefe Branham or Mike Curiak. What they do and have done really inspires me. I have half the gear I need to get into that game, and friends tease me for how often I've declared that I'm going to get out touring, but never do.

Most of those heroes of mine graduated from the Big One-Day Rides like Leadville, the Breck 100, and of course the daddy of them all, the Vapor Trail 125.

I never graduated. I'm still stuck on the Big One-Day. And my little internal pep talk reminded me why.

I'm hooked on the banana split feeling. What, you say, is the banana split feeling? Well, it's this feeling you get after you do something hard and then your dad and his best friend Jerry take you to tastee freeze and buy you whatever you want. And they tell you they're proud of you. And you feel all settled, and satisfied. Like you did what you set out to do.

This should really be a Father's Day post, but it wasn't in my head yet. And Father's Day is just arbitrary. We shouldn't limit ourselves to thinking about our dads when Hallmark tells us we should.

Forty years ago. Forty plus. My dad and his friend Jerry Barringer got into riding bikes with gears and funny handlebars. Tony Barringer was my age and my friend too, so we had a posse. Check Tony out with that ridiculous hat! King of the Mountains theme.

those were the days
That's me with the poo brown Schwinn Varsity with the yellow bar tape.

So it started with riding to the next town to have a burger at the diner there. And then some longer rides, and then centuries.

What I really got thinking about today as I asked my tired body to work for just another couple hours instead of going home was that first one. My first century ride. I know I finished it on that Schwinn. I got a better bike, an Italian Torpado (with Campy!) using paper route money the next year. But that day, that banana split day, I was a little kid on a 48 pound steel throwback to a different era.

It was the Seaway Century out of Muskegon, Michigan. I can't honestly remember if it was 1974 when I was 10 or 1975 when I was eleven. I remember crying. I remember really caring about whether I was close enough to my dad's back wheel to be in his draft. And I remember the words. He didn't make me feel bad for crying. He just spoke to me evenly and we worked through the miles. I can't tell you what he said, but I'm pretty sure I remember what it meant.

That experience I think set up some basic wiring in me. There's something in me that likes getting up out of bed and facing a big challenge; to be dealt with and either completed or not before it's time to go to bed again. And then you eat ice cream. And hamburgers.

I think I'm going to go get some ice cream.

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