Which came first: the plan or the action? No one knows the answer. Plans get hatched, and actions…are. By the time Always-local-someplace-Yocu_ and I settled on the 3rd or 4th iteration of an already altered ride/camp scheme, answers were in shorter supply than questions.
My sick mid-fat* bike was still mostly packed from the previous week’s trip over to the Coedown. I gathered some fresh bits, and away I went. Away up the West side of this continent, where here in the middle, Winter is really only ever winter. Weather is certainly a consideration, but not like other places- even with all a this rain we been receiving. We did want somewhere that wasn’t standing in water.
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After a drive on the freeways we joined forces below a mountainous hill. We went to a grocery and purchased supplies.
We loaded them into and onto our bicycles. We rode these rigs thru town to the base of the climb. We climbed towards the promise of a camp out. In a cave!
We climbed up a rock strewn old wagon road, which was doubling as a running stream on account of the hellastorm.
Up and Rocky are words that present themselves to me immediately when I attempt to write about that trail. Words: steep, rubbly, Slick, jumbled, chaotic, frustrating…hateful.
I flatter myself that I have an exceptionally positive outlook on riding bicycles. Don’t kid yourself- Riding is Suffering. Otherwise, it’s just coasting back and forth to the liquor store. That’s a nice time, but it doesn’t really satisfy. A true cyclist has made a peace with that suffering. If not learned it is actually pleasant, then at minimum it is completely worth enduring. I have made my peace with Suffering (even enjoy it**). I am amused when folks are apologists for cycling’s dark side. Some folks have to pretend that bitter pill is coated in candy colored, positively charged Higher Purpose. It isn’t. It’s just riding bikes, and it can really, really hurt. That climb hurt some, sure, but what got to me was the constancy of the mandatory get-offs (need more skills? always. need dryer conditions? it helps.) and the scares of loose slips breaking hips. It wasn’t a long climb, and it wasn’t that steep, it just suuuuuucked. Suckery made me angry. Anger made me hateful.
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Hate starts out real small and manageable, but quickly gets out of it’s box once the lid is removed. It’ll blur your vision and dull your edge.
It’s been a long time since I rode along Hating. By the time I reached the top of that slippery slope, I was reluctant to open my mouth for the ugliness that would come out. We’ve all been on the ride where that one guy cracks, and gets mad and starts bitching…it does no good at all.
I remained silent.
We’d been promised a cave, but the directions were fuzzy, and the light was fading fast. We looked along the ridge, and we looked up above, and we found some overhangs, but no cave. We descended, peering thru the dusk until sadness at the fruitless descending overcame us and we climbed back up to the nice flat with the good Oak. That was a good warmish spot.
Some of this, and some of that. Yocu_ started the fire with Fritos… so there’s your bushcraft.
The booze got away from me that night. I can make claims that I should have drunk more water sooner (True) and that the cold night air dissuaded me from leaving my bag to fetch a bottle when I awoke parched (several times), but the fact is that an advanced state of dissolution was my undoing. When I awoke fully, to vomit bile over the side of my tarp, the hurtful light revealed that I’d packed a bottle to bed (2 in fact) but been too drunk to notice their bizarre placement above my head. That was a hurtful morning. Water? Nope. Coffee? Hell no. Potato samosa? You must be joking.
Y’all know the cave I actually found up there. It was the Pain Cave. I had no Suitcase of Courage, nor matches left to burn. I did have to stop 6 or 17 times on the way back down to re-lash my load (droppy rubble) or to grimace and heave (should have drunk more water sooner). Then a terrible clanging announced I had lost my flip flops which had been balancing the kettle load in the seatbag. One was right there at the scene of the chime, but it takes 2 to make the thing go right. So, courtesy of my jackassery, we got to climb back up that slippery and hateful way to find the other. It had to be just a little further.
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I lost heart 3/4 of the way. I climbed off the bike and told myself I’d walk up to the next ridge and if it weren’t there, fuck it. It wasn’t there. Yocu_ caught up (feeling fine and I was too shut down to even hate him for it) and offered to ride up a ways more. I sat in the mud and felt low. A short while later he rolled back down with a poker face and I didn’t care one way or the other. He had found it, though. It was just a little further.
Lessons. Be sure your load is secured. For example? Tie-on through the straps of your flip flops. Duh. I can’t be taught, but I can learn the hard way. Eventually. Again.
Friends, we got great balance. A Drunkcyclist rides a narrow way that harmonizes the Drunk and the Cyclist. Me? I’m a work a little harder at maintaining that balance. To paraphrase Dean Wormer, puking and losing your shoes is no way to go thru life, son.
Who feels it knows it.
*are we calling them that? what’s the #? we went with #krampussies, cuz it’s pretty inclusive…
**except the GD headwind. THAT is a straight buzzkill. Hatred ensues with alacrity.by
It’s a good day when your story ends with alacrity.
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Look up Yule Tide Drunken Ramble on the facebooks. If you are anywhere near York, PA you should try to make it. This will be the third edition.
Saturday the 20th of December @ 11am (kind of a late start by my count, but it’s not my party, I’m just invited)
too much is not enough