Friday, October 24, 2008

A ride with K

For those who have followed Team Weak and Feeble you know that this "team" was built around the Jay Challenge, a race (that no longer exists) that was the first true test of our endurance as riders. It was a race that scared us into actually getting into shape, and brought us together as a group of friends who spent a lot of time out riding in the woods.

Prior to the Jay Challenge I had a different memory of Jay. When I was in college over at St. Mikes in the early 90's Jay Peak had started letting people ride the tram to the top and ride their mountain bikes down the mountain. No real trails, just ride down however you want. It seemed like a good idea so a bunch of us went. At the time we were all on fully rigid bikes and the idea of quality braking was still a few years down the road. Needless to say there was much carnage on that trip. My friend Kevin Queenan took off right out of the blocks and disappeared as the horizon line dropped away. We caught up to him as an unconscious mess with his bike a good twenty yards away from him. We were so pissed that after we got him off the mountain we made him sit in the base lodge while we took more runs (we'd check on him to make sure he wasn't sleeping). It was fun.

A couple years later I met this hot skier chick who was into the outdoors and knew her way around a mountain. I was working at a bike shop at the time so I got her a deal on a sweet Specialized Rockhopper, it was a good bike, steel, rigid, and ready for anything Vermont could through at it. I was riding a first generation Specialized M2, rigid, and loved that bike. After we explored the single track around Burlington and Winooski I talked this girl into going up to Jay for a day of lift serve riding. We had a good time, my roommate went with us and we spent the morning bombing down the mountain. We were making our last run (it's always the last run when these things happen) and the girl of the story comes hammering down a steep section of trail that has a center section made up of large rocks that form of sort of nasty cobble. As I watch I think to myself, "Wow, she's going fast, too fast, she's in trouble, oh this is going to hurt!"

Moments later the girl of the story tries to walk off the back of the bike at a high rate of speed. You can imagine the carnage that followed. My roommate ran up to her immediately, I had to compose myself as I knew she was hurt and I wanted to go into a first responder mode as opposed to a boyfriend mode.

I ran up and she was using interesting language to describe the pain she was feeling, and rightfully so. Her knee was hammered as were other parts of her legs, hands and other body parts. We cleaned her up as best we could and then rigged up her bike to reduce the braking she would need to do to get down and we began a slow crawl off the mountain. It was one of the hardest wrecks I've seen on a bike, and one that likely would have had many say this sport is stupid. She was out of commission for a few weeks, but she bounced back and we spent many an afternoon riding around Vermont, then for a few years around NH.

The girl of the story is my wife, and we stopped riding together after we had our first child. For her cycling became more about watching the riders of the spring classics and the Tour. She was always a big fan of Jan, of Boonen, of Basso, and others. She would explain to me what happened in a race that I didn't see, the attacks, who did the work, who sat on, what worked what didn't. She has loved the sport for a long time, but just wasn't able to participate that much anymore. She got into running (went back to Vermont to run the VCM a few years ago)but cycling took too much time and it was hard for her to ride with me unless the kids were someplace else.

The kids are older now. The grand parents are across the street, and we know have more time. We've snuck out for a few road rides from time to time, but I had yet to get her into the woods. Heading out
Part of the issue is her Specialized S-Works M2 from 1995 had been retroed for our oldest- super short stem, flats, different gearing, etc- but last night we got it set up for K and we got out on the trails for the first time in years. It was a short ride, mellow (and cold!). K in the woods
K didn't have the same handling skills she used to, but those will come back (I used to marvel at her ability to pick a line- all that ski racing I guess!). But the important part for me was we were out riding together.

Riding side by each
I had a blast, and now we'll just have to see if she gets bit by the bug again. Here's to keeping my fingers crossed!

Cruising the jeep road.



1 comment:

Sparkplug said...

What a nice post. Glad you and Karen can get out to ride together these days :-) Hope all is well!