Tuesday, July 19, 2011

And it all comes together

My how our group has grown! Since I’ve been a part of “Team Terpening”, I’ve seen the attendance peak and valley and the trend over the last few weeks is definitely peaking! Actually, I can’t even really say that; to say its peaking is to assume we are almost at capacity, or we’ve reached the top…the way the last few rides have been, there has been greater attendance all the time. I mean, who has mountain bike group rides with numbers in the 20’s these days? Oh yea, that’s right…WE DO! And we love every one of them!

This last Wednesday, we had another high attendance. I could fill a whole paragraph with the names of all that rode, so I’ll just say we were all pretty much there. I could name those who WEREN’T there, but I don’t want to give that kind of credit to anyone. There were a lot of riders. Benson had planned the route to break up the same old that we tend to get used to, an out and back kind of ride. Once we arrived, saddled up, clipped in and finally cut the chit chat after a group photo, we were off!

Dirt. Hardpack. Sand. Singletrack. Doubletrack.

We started at one of our favorite sections of the NCT, the Larks Lake Road Trailhead. This is a very nice section of the NCT trail system, perhaps one of the nicest. If you have a friend who is starting mountain biking, or even thinking of starting mountain biking, you want them to ride this section of the trail. It’s not too steep, not too tight; it has a nice flow to it, traverses through some great scenery, and is very well marked. There aren’t any forks in this section to get confused about, and aside from only ONE big climb (called Robinson Hill by most that are familiar); it’s a trail that will make any noob want to ride again and again!

So out we went. But not before Secret Steve did some sand pit sampling. Next stop, Robinson Road. Usually during the rides we hold up to re-collect everyone that has spread out over the last few miles. On a group ride, I find this to be an excellent idea. Not only does it keep us together and solidifies the meaning of a “group” ride, but it gives the hammerheads a little break to catch their breath. Except Kevin…we tried to catch him but he was gone! Ah well, we’ll find him later…. I mean, if we had to track him, it wouldn’t be hard by the freshly turned trail dirt from his rear tire digging in!

Grind. Tear. Rip. Crush. Crumple. Whoosh. Zzzzinng.

Our ride took a turn for the road as we exited the trail, Van Road, that is. Nice little stretch of paved road. Uphill road. I think there was a right hander in there too, but that was uphill too. I mean, it wasn’t like a cart path, but there it was, kinda uphill. And there was Joe, Hugh (whom we encountered a few miles ago), Uli, and Secret Steve mashing the pedals and disappearing out of sight. Man those guys can move on the flats! Action Chuck needs a little improvement in this area…as if it wasn’t apparent enough already! This brought us to the traditional Van Road trailhead we normally would have turned around at.

As soon as everyone was collected, Benson explained the change in route he had in mind. After barreling down this very fun section of trail back to Robinson Road, dodging some low branches and swerving around a downed Uli, we turned left and headed towards Palmer Road. Oh goodie, more road. Well, at least this road was rather flat and kept most of us even. I never get tired of the sound that 10 mountain bikes make on pavement in their own little peloton!

Palmer is a seasonal road. We crossed it already on our way out to Van Road…. All I’ve ever seen of Palmer was that little crossing and perhaps a longer section of it when Action Cheryl and I went ditchbanging (definition worthy of its own blog post) on the snowmobiles. But that was in the winter and under BRAAAP power! So, in order to help with its description, I took a few minutes and glanced at how Urban Dictionary would define “Palmer”. I couldn’t really find anything appropriate to cite in the blog, so I just came up with my own. The experience of Palmer Road will be seared in your memory much like your leg muscles sear after climbing a giant hill in a not low enough available on your bike gear, sandy Two-Tracked Sonofabitch Hill. Joe, on the other hand, looked back all the way wondering when the hill was going to start!! I can appreciate a good climb, but we REALLY appreciated this one!

Climb. Stand. Mash. Lean. Press. Balance. Torque. Sweat. Grunt. Press. Pound.

Once we cooled this leg furnace and got everyone back together, we zipped on down the NCT back to where we started. You really gotta love this section, such sweet reward for the climb…so, Benson, in a way, we thank you for the Palmer Experience! It’s pretty much downhill from this point on, all the way to the trailhead. Secret Steve, Joe, and I tunneled our way back at neck breaking speeds, trail dirt flying out from under the knobbies at every sharp turn, pumping every chance, and glancing a shoulder or two off an occasional tree!

Cool. Race. Speeeed. Downhill. Snap. Biff. Shoosh. Flyyyyy!

With everyone collected, packed, changed, and bikes mounted back to their respective racks, it was time to head out to The Moose Jaw Junction, or as some affectionately name it, “The Pond”, for some of their famous burgers and cuisine! A fine end to a fine ride!

What is it about a ride that gets you going? The scenery? The camaraderie? The exercise? The beer? The speed? Geez. If I was forced to pick just one, you’d probably be waiting a long time on an answer.

You really gotta love how it all comes together. As I touched on earlier, the group has really grown, but I dare say so have the friendships. Seems like the group is really rolling into something special. It’s not too often such a large a group of people get along so well that come from different backgrounds. Mountain biking is our common link; it’s something we all share, enjoy, and embellish upon. May the trails keep out in front of us for miles to come!


WPG said...

Very well put AC (but you will become Sandbagger if you don't upgrade to expert for the next race). If we had an actual church, you could be the preacher.

SARGE said...

Excellent write up, Action Chuck! Above and beyond all expectations, felt like I was right out on the trail with you guys.

SARGE said...

Are all those pictures actually from the WNR? I thought it was interesting that it was sunny in one, and then moist and foggy in another... Hmmmm?

Action Chuck said...

LOL, no, only the first one and the Moose Jaw one...the others were placed for effect and to emote an emotional response from the reader!