Thursday, September 7

'17 West and Also Other Virginia Mancation: Part Three

Boyes is there to meet us early, and it looks like our 7:00AM departure will actually happen.  Then Jon starts making a smoothie at 6:55AM.  I lower my preparedness level and go take a dump.

We leave around 7:20AM... to head to the gas station across the highway... only to discover that Jon forgot his shoes... and then Boyes and Jon roll up to the gas pump... and walk away from the truck.  Nobody pumping the gas.  We have all day tho, right?

Three hours later (and two more stops at gas stations and one at a natural spring) and Boyes and I leave Jon and Bill Nye at the top of the mountain.  We make the 25 mile drive to drop the shuttle truck at the end of the ride.  Truck dropped, we rush to prep ourselves and get into my Honda Fit of Rage for the 25 mile drive back to the start.

We're beginning our six hour (or so?) ride somehow after 1:00PM.  It's been five hours since my four Pop Tart breakfast.


The trail is not without its challenges.  Although the start of the ride is 2,500ft+ higher than the finish, there's 2,500ft of climbing to get there.

Math.  Mine's fuzzy but close enough for our current administration to tweet.

The following images are terrible, but for reasons you're about to know, they're all I took.

The overlook where hang gliders launch into the valley below.  Later, I will consider throwing my bike off it.

So, there we are boogieing along.  I'm at the front of the ride.  The trail is super obvious and blue blazed the whole way.  I hit a descent that's wide open, and I can see where it's going way ahead of me.  I let off the brakes and lean way back...


The bike seems to drop inches closer to the ground below me.

I stop.  Inspect.  Some of the spokes are broken right at the rim.  By "some," I mean the majority.  Nineteen to be exact.*  It's obvious that my ride is over.  I start to run down the trail but quickly realize that I might be way closer to the top than I am the bottom.  I wait for Boyes and everyone else to get to where I stand in some sad state of dismay.

Bill Nye confirms that we are only seven miles into the ride.  Much easier to turn around.

"What are you gonna do?"

What else could I do?  I've got a seven mile hike back to my car.  That's it.

Bill Nye asks if I have any spare food, so I toss him my unopened bag of Tummy Gummies.  Who needs food for a seven mile hike?

I tell them that I'll walk out, get in the car, drive down the mountain to the most logical point on the map for meeting up (there's no phone signal out there anywhere), and start walking with the bike on my shoulder since the rear wheel will not roll at all.  I quickly realize that the dangling spokes are a liability to not only the aesthetics of my rim, but also potentially my flesh.  I stop and take the time to thread out the useless bits.

Hike for awhile.  Who knows how far?  I have no computer or watch.  Time is nothing.

I realize that it would be easier to divide the 28lb bike into parts.  Front wheel in one hand, bike in the other.  I can carry everything basically four different ways, which should reduce the strain on my back and shoulders.

Every once in awhile, I realize the utter comedy that is my situation.  I laugh out loud.  No one laughs with me.

Keep walking.

My feet are starting to blister at the back.  Meh.  Stop and roll my socks down in a manner that doubles the padding on my Achilles tendon.

I feel like a cave man, figuring out very rudimentary concepts of efficient travel.  I also feel like I need to keep moving.  I have no clue how long this is going to take or how long those guys will be on the trail.  No sitting.  Just an occasional sip from my bottle and no food rewards because I'm an idiot.

I lightly consider tossing my bike down into the valley and then claiming my bike was stolen for insurance purposes.  Meh.  I'm slightly too honest for that.  I continue on with my steel albatross.

More than two hours later, I can hear cars.  The road (and my Honda Fit of Rage) must be just over the next hump.

It is.
I pack the car and drive down the mountain to wait for the others to return.  Whenever that might be.

* My due diligence disclaimer.  I've only broken one Industry Nine spoke since I started riding their wheels in 2006, and that one was totally my fault (wrecked with my knee landing in the wheel).  Over those many years, I've taken multiple sticks in the spokes.  Back country East coast riding comes with its own set of challenges.  In all those occurrences, the worse that's ever happened was one bent spoke.  All that I can figure was that this was the perfect storm of events.  High speed, weight way back, high volume/grippy tire that did not break traction, stick as close to the rim as possible (determined by the marks left on the frame.  Even my valve stem was completely sheared off at the rim.  I'm pretty sure the NOX rim is okay, but nineteen broken spokes, two others bent and one valve stem totaled.  I can't imagine any wheel woulda came outta this situation any better.


Anonymous said...


jay said...

nightmare stuff. glad your crabon wheel lived through it though.

Eric Gadlage said...

28#'s really?? I didn't think you owned any bikes that heavy

Anonymous said...

I'm laughing at you, not with you.