Earlier this spring, before all the snow had fully melted, I found myself making a trial run out in the trails I usually ride in summer. When it’s dry. It was that time of year where I am always sick of riding in the slop where I used to ski cross country and knowing that I was likely to be met with slop in the good single-track. You never know until you try right?
So with hope springing in my breast I waited patiently for the train to pass. There is almost always a train dicking around at the only convenient access road. I tried to gauge how wet things might be by looking at my immediate surrounding as opposed to counting boxcars. It looked promising. I muttered a few particularly bad swears under my breath while glancing furtively around like a 5 year old who has just learned that there were some words best not said aloud in the hopes that the train might speed up. It didn’t work. I would have to suck it up and wait.
After suffering an additional 5 or 6 minutes waiting I had managed to work myself into a fine lather of excitement. First real ride of spring here I come! No more slogging the fatbike (Which I have affectionately nicknamed ‘The Pig’) through slushy unpredictable, granular patches of snow which might or might not have ice underneath them. No more frozen waterbags… Summer was coming and spring was here. This is as close to giddy as I get by the way. Just in case any of you in the listening audience were curious.
The train gone I quickly made my way to my parking spot, yes I have my own spot. Unloaded ‘The Pig’, slopped some Nastylube on the chain and made ready to straighten the curves and flatten the hills as it were. It was warm enough that I deemed my overboots to be unrequired equipment and off I roared. I have to confess, I felt a little like superman what with it being spring and the very liberating feeling of each foot now being 5 lbs lighter due to lack of heavy (and waterproof) overboots.
I felt like a hippo that finally got it’s last stuck leg out of an alkali patch, I felt magical, I felt as though I had come home like some old grizzled old trapper stuck in a mountain pass eating bark and pine cones from what few trees were available the entire winter by a chance freak fall snowstorm. Things were working good, the trail had the odd spot of snow or slush but was by and large in absolute hero condition.
I steamed up hills like a man possessed, my cornering was impressive and without error. Even ‘The Pig’, who likes to sometimes abruptly change my plans especially after even the slightest amount of time in the air, was in full cooperation mode. I zigged, I zagged, I rolled through the warm up section of the trail like I was literally on fire.
But then the darkness came. Instead of staying on the more used and well packed portion of the trail I allowed my exuberance to guide me into the more shadowy and technical sections of the trail. I began to have to wrestle and grapple with ‘The Pig’. No longer were we allies on the first ride of spring. We began to have one sided arguments about line choice. Most of which I lost. I began to sweat heavily with toil and frustration as the large tires had gotten balled up with clay from a particularly ugly spot that I walked through. I would have carried ‘The Pig’ so as not to get everything covered in clay but I was still feeling petty over the last disagreement we had over the best way to come off of that small drop.
After using a small sapling (Sorry sapling…) and some loud and well enunciated curse words to help me up the last steep and greasy portion of the trail I found myself near a paved bike path with a rather large puddle in the middle. All is not lost I thought to myself. There is still hope. The earlier optimism of the ride began to tentatively shine through the darkness that had rolled in. I’ll roll through this puddle a few times get the bulk of the clay off my tires and be able to once again sally forth!
As I approached the puddle I could see at the edges it was not really that deep. However once I had made my way forward another three or four feet it began to become much deeper and with an unnerving rapidity. Even though I knew I could have turned around I did not. It was like some strange force beyond my control was compelling me to continue forward like a moth to a flame. (I think it was ‘The Pig’)I watched as first my feet (How did it get so deep….) and then my knees got soaked. I continued to chug along sounding and looking I’m sure like some kind of strange washing machine until 10 or 15 feet further along I churned my way up the other side. All in right? Waterproof knee high overboots in the car right? Thankfully the car was not far.
Thus ended the first ride of spring.
Keep the lube on your chain!