I was pretty excited because I hadn't been able to get on a bike, any bike, for over two weeks. Life and work has been getting in the way of all the personal fun stuff. I don't often take a day off from work just to ride. So I was going to make this day count. And a beautiful day it was. Full sun, barely 60 degrees at ride start.
I arrived at the parking lot 8 minutes late. Having text Jeff that I was on the way, I was assured they'd be there waiting for me. When I arrived...no one. Two cars, no riders. I thought...sweet. I guess I'll ride by myself and hopefully catch them at lunch. However, two things told me they'd be back shortly. One, the stranger that I stopped to talk to was getting ready to suit up and ride alone. He obviously belonged to one car. So I knew one vehicle in our party was not yet there. Two, a fresh banana and cup of coffee sitting on the bike rack of the other vehicle with "Kowalczyk" sharpied on the cooler in the back. Someone is coming back for that banana and coffee. I'm guessing either a Kowalczyk or Scofield.
Sure enough, they came back, just as I was putting all my stuff together. They had gone out for a quick pre-ride warm up. Soon after, Carolyn and Greg arrived and we were off. Our "Lumberjack 100 Tour Guide" Scofield leading the way.
We rode some of the inner loops to begin with, then headed out towards the outer loop. Lots of brutal climbs up and down and up and down for the first 8 miles on the inner. Jeff counting down how many we had left. Five more. Four more. One big one, then two quick steep ones. Only two more. (I think I heard that three times, but I didn't argue.) The countdown never seemed to stop. We eventually made it out onto the outer loop. Everyone was excited to see a black bear (like I saw one month prior) - like it would just be sitting there in the same spot waiting for us. I was able to recognize the area I had seen the momma and her 3 cubs, but alas no sightings of bear all day long.
It was a rather unenventful balance of the ride on the outer loop. Which, for me, was perfect. It was a nice day to clear my mind of all my stresses and just casually ride with no end goal in mind. On our way down the long and (very) fast decent headed towards the parking lot, there was a giant tree blocking the trail. Kind of a buzz kill keeping our fast flow from continuing on. We had to route around it. John and I continued on but of course, Scofield found something to be curious about. John and I waited for a long time for him, Carolyn and Greg...only to find out that Jeff had decided to take a look at a giant pile of poop. Figures. How did I miss that!? I guess around where the downed tree was, there was a giant pile of the stuff. There may have been pictures taken. Jeff's wife, upon reviewing said pictures, thinks it was a former porcupine home. Turns out they like the stuff, so they use it as furniture. Or something like that....
Anyways, it was a good ride, we took our time and chatted, stopped often to rest, rehydrate and snack. I had some loose handlebars I had to stop and tighten down once. Greg crashed on his face/chest once, I think Carolyn took a spill also. No other casualties for the day. After doing around 22 miles or so, we were back at the parking lot. Time for lunch. We were all pretty hungry.
After lunch, Greg and Carolyn decided they had enough and the three of us remaining gathered our gear and rode some more. Hitting some more of the inner loops, then cutting through to the last few miles of the outer loop again. At one point, bringing up the rear, I looked down and saw a rather large snake coiled up right in the trail. It hissed at me as I rode by, barely missing it with my tires. I shout up ahead, "did you guys see that snake!?". Immeditaly Scofield was on the brakes and riding back towards me. "where was it?!" He loves those things and was out to catch it. We never did find it. I did some research and with the help of the snake-master Scofield, I'm pretty sure it was a Blue Racer.
Not the actual snake in the trail, but pretty darn close.
It seemed more green than blue to me.
After that, we went up the wrong way (the "right" way for Lumberjack) to the Fire Tower...what kind of sick bullsh!t is that!? I swear it never ended. I never swore, then pouted like a baby, then swore so much again the entire day. I'd look up, hoping to see the crest....nothing. Just more hill. WTF is this - some kind of joke!? I finally made it to where Jeff and John had presumably been relaxing drinking mai-tais, when Jeff asks if I want to do the "hike a bike" up to the tower then back down the road. I just nodded my head and said "sure, whatever". Lead me and I will follow. I'm done thinking. Just turn the pedals.
In all, my legs had turned to mush after about mile 26 or so. I spent a lot of time in the granny gear, barely getting up some of the climbs. Had to walk 3 of them in total.
I'm glad Jeff and John showed me the way of the Lumberjack 100. It gives me a better perspective on how the course is set up. It is brutal, I can confirm. But, as I currently stand with deciding whether or not to sign up for the 2013 race, I might just be crazy enough to commit.
John spotted this monkey wearing RW kit swinging from a vine.
We rode through lots of these signs like they weren't even there.
John and Greg checking out the map.
Me walking up the Wall.
Both John and Jeff (for the first time ever) made it up w/o walking.