Thursday, May 9

PMBAR '19: Part Three

We get to the Horse Cove intersection.  Time to inspire Watts with the good news.

"Squirrel is mostly downhill with one hurty part and then it's up the Wheelchair Ramp, down Clawhammer, up to Hot Dog Gap... short hike-a-bike and down the slippery mess that lower Black Mountain probably will be when we get there."

We're fumbling our way down Squirrel.  Watts tries to do one of those sneaky tight turns through a creek bed (the kind I won't do when I'm tired and it's raining), and he takes a tumble.  At least he fell up the mountain instead of down.  The look on his face says it all.  He's not having what people call "fun."

We get to the tiny hurty part, I start up... and stop in my tracks when I hear Watts scream.

Ummmm... it's not that hurty.  Wonder what he managed to do to himself on a climb?

I run back down, and he's fiddling with his face.  He's got a large piece of goopy something in his eye.  We consider the drawbacks of trying to wash his eye out with a water bottle that probably has some remnants of Carborocket Half Evil, but decide the reward outweighs the risk of mebbe horse shit in his occipital hole.  The process is a comedy of errors, me trying to help, three hands needed to hold his eye open top and bottom and squirt the bottle.  We take turns at eyelid and bottle duty, many attempts being fruitless... until finally a glop of who knows what comes flying outta his eye.

We get to the "fun" part of Squirrel Gap, and Watts (now with restored yet blurry vision) follows me down the trail.  My brakes are making that funny noise that may or may not indicate a certain lack of pad material.  I flash back to when I mentioned on Facebook that everyone should be checking their pads, what with the spotty forecast and all.

Myself?  I felt a cursory glance should suffice.

Unless it didn't.

I focus on "preserving" my rear pads, knowing that the real danger will be coming down Black Mountain at the end.

Bottom of Squirrel, get on the Wheelchair Ramp... which is usually the perfect grade for a single speeder... unless it's absolutely saturated.

Which it totally is.

I'm feeling good, probably because I know I've got very little left to ride in my last PMBAR ever.  I'm hammering away... Watts is fading.

I stop.  Hand him some Gummy Tummies.  Hammer.  Repeat.

Watts tells me what I already know.

"I've reached my f--k it point."

And this is where I feel terrible.  It's my fault we're still out here.  It always is tho.  Somehow, my screw ups always seem to add that amount of time that's just outside the f--k it point.  It probably has more to do with the fact that I always tell my partner how badly I screwed up and how much potential time I added to the day.

I need to stop doing this to people, especially my little friends.

Over the top and down Clawhammer.  We come across a man walking down with two kids.  He stops us.

"Is this 477?"

"No.  It's down at the end of this road."

"How far?"

Jeesh.  How do we tell this man who obviously did not think ahead before walking his two small'ish children up Buckhorn Gap... and who knows how he got here... how do I tell him he's miles away from 477 and probably even more miles to wherever he started?

There's nothing we could do other than give directions and say "good luck."

On to Hot Dog Gap and I try to ride at Watts's pace, chatting him up... realizing this is only slightly better for his morale than letting him suffer alone.  It's what I do tho.  The sun pops out, and I remind him that soon we will have beers and sunshine.  We reach the gap, hike up to the top of Lower Black... begin the slip and slide of death.

Watts admittedly doesn't like this kinda Pisgah, at least on a rigid single speed... which he's normally riding.  Rooty, wet, washed-out hot mess of a trail with a fair number of "oh shit" sections.  Having some idea what he's comfortable with, I descend ahead and stop when I think he needs fair warning, his brakes not quite being what they were when when started the day.

"You don't want none of this."

Watts stops, dismounts, begins to walk... and somehow he and his bike collapse as if the planet Mars landed on his head.


"I'm gonna need to walk a bit.  My knee hit something hard."

Fortunately, his "bit" was pretty short, and he got his unbendy knee to be bendy again.  Back on the bike... and finally we pop out at the bottom and finish.  I see a very clean group of single speeders hanging out and a keg and burritos to my left.  No time for high fives and silliness.  I want to clean up ASAP and drown my sorrows... at my last PMBAR ever.

Down to the creek, splash myself, give my bike a couple good gadooshes into the water, head back to my car.

"Hey Dicky, they're looking for you."

Shit.  What did we do wrong?  I mean, Eric didn't look at our passport or even ask about my route.  Did I screw something up?

"Dicky, hurry up and go get Watts for the single speed podium."


Apparently, the Crank Arm Christians did not go for the bonus checkpoint.  With the two hour bonus, we got them by ten minutes.  And Gary and Chris?  I don't know what they did, but they came across the line four minutes behind us.

What was it Watts was saying?  Anything can happen?  Like it did last year and apparently this year?

Hooray us and all that.

That thing about my last PMBAR?

I guess anything can happen...

After it's all said and done, it's all about hanging out with my little friends and playing games and having fun... and growing facial hair.

So mebbe I just give up on the concept that I'm disappointing teammates, knowing full well that at this point, they should really know what they're getting themselves into.  A huge thanks to Watts for all these years of understanding and patience and semi-positive attitude and good times and beers and just everything.

I'd do it again if he will.

Do you have it in you to return next year, Watts?

Look inside yourself, Mufasa.


hellbelly said...

I realized years ago that everyone likes different things and every potential is both right and wrong depending on one's time place or circumstance. I have ridden all of the PMBAR trails over the last 20 years and enjoyed them specifically for their technicality. I have to ask if one doesn't really care for technical riding (Watts) and arguably riding a rigid one speed makes it even less pleasant then the "fun" comes from just pushing oneself beyond the breaking point with others to commiserate with?

dicky said...

Mebbe. I think self-loathing is a powerful motivator.