Is it racing if you don't know it?
Last night sitting at dinner with the fine folks from the Rockshox Experience, we saw a Lycra-clad guy, rolling through Pack Square in downtown Asheville ... with a number still pinned to his jersey. Seriously. We hadn't had a race in Asheville for 5 days. I mean, yeah, Pack Square is ripe with the stench of natural body oils and trustafarians, but he was in Lycra. Even if you're not going to wash the jersey, at least unpin the number!
That's sort of how this weekend rolled: A good friend from Chicago landed Friday night, initiating a stellar evening of peanuts, corn hole and Indian street food (Namaste, y'all!) that didn't devolve into too much shop talk with the crew from Suspension Experts. Just enough to remind us how we knew each other, but one of the things I love about Asheville is everyone's amazing backstory. Makes for some great dinner conversation.
It did make the grunt up 1206 a bit ... um ... not so fun, early Saturday morning, though. Even moreso because my giant Indian rice pancake was outdone by Greg's sushi-and-sake-and-Facebook debauchery. Nevertheless, Dicky was apparently feeling insecure about his lack of turning pedals in anger, and had challenged a couple of us Hill People to a ride in the mountains. It was a race, only he neglected to tell us. So we, the Hill People, did what Hill People do -- we parked at Fisherman's and rode up to Yellow Gap. Not being Hill People, Dicky and his squad drove to the top, thus starting their ride fresher and smelling less like the guy in Lycra I would see 36 hours hence. So when Ben missed the on-ramp to the sideways log pile halfway up Laurel and bounced 4 feet in the air, apparently Dicky was keeping score, and the fact that we had 1,000 feet of climbing more in our legs at that point counts for nothing.
Charlottetonians 1, Hill People Nil.
Which would have been OK, given that Jamie, Ben, Greg and I knew where to turn the screws, only I put the Charlotte folks over the top for good a few minutes later, before we even got a chance to make it even, when I let my front wheel wander a bit too close to the edge, which gave way just enough to put me on the ground.
Charlottetonians 2, Hill People Nil.
Which was pretty much like an own-goal. Damnit.
So, we lost the race. Which, truthfully, would have happened anyway -- Dicky brought a ringer, who absolutely slaughtered us, on our home trails. The Hill People call ex-Army helicopter rescue pilot Geoff Bergmark one of our own; Charlotte folks have Lee, a first-generation Vietnamese American who was Airborne or Rangers or Special Ops or Black Beret or something like that. Whatever he was, on a bike, he is fast. And whereas Geoff is still young enough to take risks and not know any better, Lee is already north of 40 -- and he is killing it. Mark my words, watch for this guy in the Eleven-One -- now that he knows the trails a bit better, he will punish anyone who dares to challenge him.
And now this message will self-destruct. It's an Operations thing.
With my palm bruising and swelling nicely (don't worry, it's my left hand), the descent of Pilot was a bit tough, but I made the most of it. And S Mills wasn't too bad, as I led out Lee on the descent of the wheelchair ramp to the river at Mach 10. And Squirrel was OK; Cantrell, on the other hand (ha, ha, get it?) kind of sucked. We rolled S Mills to Mullinax, and then bombed Laurel Creek -- Greg wouldn't let up, and Dicky was doing this awesome "tick bite dance" while trying to keep up on the lower portion. I'll have to take him to a strip club someday -- I think he'd give a better lap dance than the professionals.
Finally we crawled back up 5015, and I'll just point out that I held back with Greg for a while, and then slowly climbed my own pace after the halfway mark ... which before too long reeled in Dicky. (Not sure how that doesn't count, but whatever.) We bid our adieus at the Gap, and we Hill People rolled the gravel back to our cars -- where we do what Hill People do, and drank beer and sat in the river and bullsh!tted for a while. The Charlotte folks, meanwhile, loaded their car and drove on out of our Forest -- we were still sitting by the side of the road when they rolled past. And good riddance, for a few days at least -- because they'll be back, sooner rather than later.
And next time, we'll all be racing.
11 hours ago