Monday, March 16, 2009

Snakebitten

That's what day 2 of last weeks St. George trip was.

Brandon got us to Springdale safely late friday night after white knuckling it through the snowstorm in the big Expedition. I decided on the way down to opt for volume out near Zions with the conmen on Saturday vs. intensity at the race in St. George, where Rick and Sam laid down an early season message that they're to be reckoned this year in the single speed category. We met the doc and rode Jem/Rim/Gould Saturday morning - Jem was fast and we had a riot ripping the 1 track back to the parking lot. It had been a good pace all day, but something about Jem makes you open the throttle - and the yelps let you know when someone hit the section where the trail drops out from under you. There was a hairless sasquatch sighting at the end of the trail - he briefly appeared on a bike coming around the last corner - but quickly retreated when he saw a larger than expected crowd near the cars.

Finished the day with a jaunt around Slickrock Swamp - great trail to wind down and play on, but we looked more like a train of zombies than kids on a playground by the time we got to the slickrock - we were pretty spent. The only rubs anyone had on day one was Tyler getting a cramp in his calf early in the morning, and Brandon feeling the bolts of his new shoes on the bottom of his foot all day - that had to be comfortable.

Tyler educated us on the virtues of backcountry skiing over breakfast the next morning before the ride. On the docket for day 2 - Gooseberry Mesa, and an uncanny series of mishaps. The day actually started off with a little luck - we were meeting up with the doc again who was coming from St. George - and it just so happened that both parties arrived within 3 minutes of each other, about 45 minutes later than the agreed upon meeting time with no cell reception to let the other know we were running late - so chalk one up for the win column right off the bat.

About 30 minutes later, the snakebites started. I think it started with me. Nothing spectacular, standard faceplant into one of the short steep ascents up one of the slickrock walls. Tyler and Erik I think are the ones who saw it, and because there were witnesses, I got up doing the post crash fake laugh thing, surveyed the damage/showed off the severe rockrash on my right arm which had added flare with all the blood, remounted, and tried to get a moment to myself to weep and scream f bombs in my head to counter the fire shooting out of the rock rash and the sprain I knew I'd put in my left wrist when trying to prevent getting a little rockrash on my face. The face was saved (no matter of opinion jokes - Annie) but at the expense of the wrist which is just starting to feel better 8 days later. May do a post on what to do with rock/road rash scabs - or any scabs for that matter. What to do with that layer of skin crust has been a source of much discussion around my house this week, with wife and kids all having their input. I'm a picker.

The next strike was on Banks - who somehow managed to break one of his eggbeater pedals. The pros of eggbeater pedals? Their light, simple design makes them a nice pedal for the minimalist. They're hands down the most popular pedal with the folks I ride with here in Suncrest, and I converted to them for cyclocross last season. Here's the con - depending on where your at on Gooseberry when that thing breaks, the lack of any type of platform on that pedal means you may very well have a long walk to the road before you can get back on the bike and limp it down the road. Brandon's walk wasn't real long, but he made it a little longer when he crashed on the way back to the road. Should mention that he crashed while walking the bike, not while riding it - talk about insult to injury - or, because the walking crash drew blood, maybe injury to insult?

The two Eric/k's and Erik's buddy Tyler and I took the hidden valley route back to the jeep road and headed back to the cars to meet back up with Brandon and Tyler after fixing the pedal problem (Erik R. happened to have an extra bike with the remedy, flats and pedal cages). If you've got to bail from the good stuff on Gooseberry, that jeep road is actually a fun descent - not nearly as good as the trail, but certainly not the suckiest bailout route that ever sucked. We were having fun bouncing around on the little rock jumps, etc... down the jeep road when I hit a rock and my rear tire let out a big belch. It was loud, and it was a lot of air. I ride a tubeless setup, and it seemed to seal right up and I was able to make it back to the car to top it off at the air pump. We regrouped, made a few jokes about the guy with one eggbeater pedal and one rat cage, and were off again for more of Gooseberry's classic trail. The happiness lasted maybe another 30 minutes, when I downshift for yet another quick/steep push up a rock, and my drivetrain locks up. I manage to get off instead of fall off, and start the delicate surgery of extracting my rear deraileur from my spokes, which is where it ended up after my chain apparently dropped off the inside of my cassette. To my surprise, the surgery actually went pretty well, and I lived to ride another day, or another couple hundred yards. The belching rear tire wasn't holding air.

But - not to be outdone - Banks wasn't content with breaking just one pedal in a day, so he went for the two bagger. Yep - he snapped the spring in both eggbeater pedals in one day. Come on, seriously - I'm still new to the scene, but I'm guessing the number of people who can claim they've done that can be counted on one hand.

So when we got back to the jeep road, I volunteered to take my slow leaking tire and attitude back to the car with Banks, along with Erik and Tyler from Cedar City who had to get back to wives and kids to finish their family vacation time. And just to top off the theme of the day, I rolled the back tire enough to burp it completely flat on the ride back down the jeep road, and ended up hoofing it the last half mile. The Zeph and Tyler finished the trail, we loaded up, and I put my seat belt on extra tight, and wrote a farewell note to my family, certain that we'd be gobbled up by the first avalanche ever to happen on Gooseberry Mesa on our drive down the hill. It doesn't matter that there was no snow or slopes, it was that kind of day. It says a lot about your friends when you look back on that kind of crap and remember it as fun, or at least funny.

2 comments:

Zeph said...

I had a GREAT time (but I didn't have any mechanicals...knock on wood). Can't wait to go again. Goose and Thunder Mtn baby!

evilbanks said...

Great write up. Despite all the bullshit that happened, that was a great trip! When are we going back????