Friday, May 10, 2013

Rapture Wrap Up

This year's Rapture ride would be different than last year's.  Sure, Velodirt puts on a mean ride filled with hills and punishment and gravel.  Sure, I cried like a baby several times last year.  Yeah, it took me at least three hours longer than everyone else to ride it.  But so what, this year I was determined to exact my revenge on Trask Mountain.  And it worked.

Equipped with a new (to me) mountain bike - a GT Backwoods - and crazy fat tires, I learned about the luxury of mountain bike gearing.  The cantilever brakes were nicer to my hands and more effective at slowing than my road bike's calipers.  Most of all though, those fat Kenda Small Block Eights saved my bacon.  It felt like driving a couch!

The ride began at 10am so I left around 9.  That first hour of the route is confusing with many false turn-offs.  I was torn between not wanting to see any riders and dying to see even one rider.  Seeing anyone too soon would mean I was slow.  Not seeing anyone for too long could mean I was lost. About an hour and a half after I started, just before cresting the first big hill, a rider quietly passed me by.  He was either fast as hell or had also started early because I didn't see anyone else for another 40 minutes.

I started counting bikes.   3 cyclocross and 2 mountain bikes.  6 CX and 3 MTB.  Keeping track started getting sketchy when I passed the Jens Voigt Army on their first of many flats that day.  The overall estimate was 21 cyclocross and 12 mountain bikes.  Pretty soon I was alone again.  Then the JVA and a gal on an orange machine with 700x28 zaffiro tires passed me.  We leapfrogged several times, me riding slow and steady, them fixing flat after flat and sprinting on.   

I rounded a corner and saw fellow randonneur rider Kevin sitting on the side bleeding.  A few people stopped to squirt his wounds with water so I just called him a badass and rolled on.  The descent is long and hairy enough to make you crave climbing.  Kevin caught up with me after a while.  He was pretty scraped up and neither of us had a first aid kit.  At the sulfur water fill up stop, he rinsed off and I gave him what little I had: an atomic fireball, a tissue and some chammy butter.  A few minutes later, a dude with bandages and neosporin rolled up and made Kevin's day.

Kevin and I stayed together for the next few hours.  We were very evenly paced, although his wounds may account for that.  He would occasionally make a little whimpering sound, I assume from the pain.  We enjoyed a quick wade into the reservoir water.  He asked if I planned to take bail point three, the short cut back to camp.  No way.

But I was quickly running out of water and it was hot.  Bail point three started to sound like a necessary shortcut to stave off dehydration.  Then we encountered two guys filling bottles from a stream.  They had a water purifying chemical and shared it with us, enabling me to make my dream of skipping the bail point come true.  Luckily, I carry plenty of candy and was able to thank them with a zot and a jawbreaker.
Alone again, I was able to concentrate on new lyrics for my gravel song and enjoy my special relationship with Puddy Gulch Road.  This sucker is steep.  Just when you finish one roller, another appears.  It felt tortuous after all the miles of gravel and hills behind me.  I heard a dog barking.  I saw a flash of canine running toward me and yelled at the owner, not far behind him.  Am I destined to be fearful of dogs whenever I ride now?  Then I looked at the dog.  This brown velvety creature had floppy ears and a lolling tongue and is probably next to the word cute in the dictionary.

Finally on the home stretch, Flying M Road felt so out of reach.  Certainly I'd gone far enough by now.  Maybe I passed the turn?  How could they make Flying M Road so far away?  Who are they that make things far away?  I started swearing.  Just then, two riders, who looked fresh as daisies, passed me up.  I'm certain they had heard my graceless cursing demands that the road appear.

When I arrived at camp, I learned there was a rumor I had fallen.  A few friends worried about "the girl in the pink jersey who went down", but it wasn't me.  A handful of other riders continued to come in after me. I felt victorious over the me from last year.  I wasn't last!  Then the kegs and the steaks and the intimate group of campers sitting around the fire sharing war stories of the ride we'd just conquered.  I can't wait til next year.

The next morning, we were awakened by the bee-like droning of old fashioned bi-planes and flying rigs as they flew over the meadow then swept in for a landing.  We rendezvoused with the pilots up at the ranch house, where a bountiful breakfast awaited us.  Back at camp, just before leaving, photographer/videographer Graham asked to interview me and for a "tour" of my bike.  This made me feel special and famous and was the cherry on the cake of the weekend.

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