I was pulled out of my morning reverie by a text from Peder – “Evans today. Interested?”
After a week of Thanksgiving gluttony, some singletrack shred, soaking in hot springs and live music, my palette was satiated, but I felt guilty at my weekly mileage total of 15.5. With no group ride intel for Sunday, I figured maybe I’d do some solo adventure. I would find more singletrack and laugh while descending something that would greatly benefit from a dropper post.
Black Friday Rodeo Rally
Hosted by: Rodeo Adventure Labs – https://www.rodeo-labs.com/
11/24/17 @ 8:30am
Start/Parking Location: Jake Mountain Parking Lot
Black Friday Rodeo Rally welcomes you to ride 47.3 miles with us amid North Georgia’s Blue Ridge WMA dirt roads, forests, streams and mountains instead of hordes of pushy shoppers, fake mall Santa’s and cheeseballs and summer sausages. The route is a good mix of gravel/pave (70/30) ranging from flat and smooth to remote forest service roads. Oh, and don’t mind the little climbs up Nimblewill and Noontoola they will give you plenty of time to look within….
Beer, watermelon, cool air, way-past-midnight tacos, are the natural ingredients to fuel the night ride. When the light fades and the dark blankets the trail, some go to bed. Others heed the rally cries to pedal. We all came looking for something – what I’m not sure – but I reveled in mystery riding at night. Rarely do I feel lost while riding a bike. When your vision is dulled, your other senses heighten, and your sense of place is muddied. Throw in good company, old + new, and you have a night rally.
Sometimes the best rides come together last minute. This is one of those rides. The invite went out late in the day Saturday for an early Sunday departure. I didn’t know if anybody would be able to come. I didn’t even know if I wanted a big group or not. I was heading east because nowadays east is where I go to clear my head.
Sometimes you put out a ride invite and optimistically hope that only the right people show up. The “right” people are people that want to ride about as fast as you, that don’t mind stopping when you want to.
The right people are also easy to talk to, they laugh at your dumb jokes. You laugh at their dumb jokes too. The right people consider dumb jokes to be an art form.
The right people don’t mind wind, don’t mind flats, don’t mind washboard, and don’t mind getting up early.
Tom, Josh, Geoff, and Patrick were the right people on Sunday. I’m really glad that they showed up. It was a great ride.
Phil: Brian and I have been riding bikes together for the last 10 years. Our escapades have included week long stage races in banana republics with more stray dogs and chickens on the road than actual pavement, big mountain rides in the pacific northwest, and week long training camps among the towering redwood trees and wineries of Santa Rosa, CA. Ever since moving to the front range area, I was excited about the opportunity to show him some of the roads in my new found backyard. Loose plans formulated early this summer for him to come out and suffer through the thin air, which Brian has historically not done very well with, in order to do some touring. With the promise of the unknown and adventure, Nik was also very interested in joining us for what was sure to be a great three-day trip in the high country.
Nik: Little did I know what was in store for me, it was a day full of emotions, the one that occupied most of my attention was how I felt like I bonked when the ride just begun; definitely not the best way to start a three-day tour.
Some rides haunt you. You see a peak or a road out of the corner of your eye and you know that you must go and find where it goes. Until you do there will be no rest and yet when you decide to go there is also no rest. Fear creeps in, and doubt. Is it do-able? Can you do it? These are the scary rides with unknown outcomes. Yet these are the rides we most love.
At Rodeo failure IS an option. It’s OK to turn around and go home if necessary. But if you manage to press on and push through you accomplish something special. Something outside of the measurements of distance, power, calories, and altitude gained.
Tire Pressure? Feels about right, though there’s no way to tell for sure.
Headset? Seems tight.
Shoes? Right, they’re still in my bag…
A burst of giggling erupts as I kneel to unzip the suitcase. Maybe I should have waited to don my kit until after I finished fiddling with my bike, or at least put some sweatpants on over my bibs. It’s too late now; there is already a gaggle of Albanian school girls, friends of my host-family’s daughter, gathering outside the open door to my room. They avert their eyes as I exit, shoes in hand, and return to my bicycle in the yard. It has similarly attracted a group of neighborhood children who scatter when I approach. Taking the handlebars, I swing my leg over the saddle, but before I can clip Eduart, the patriarch of my host-family, stops me. He’s spent the last hour silently watching me assemble my bicycle, but now he’s clearly concerned. He doesn’t speak English, and my Albanian is still pretty poor, so he simply points to my brakes and inquires with a thumbs-up. I squeeze the levers and return the hand gesture to assure him that everything’s fine, then aim the bicycle down the gravel path which serves as our driveway and kick off.
The planning for the May Rodeo Rally began serendipitously back in January, when, as you might recall, I took advantage of a warm winter Colorado day and set out on a solo dirt adventure south of Denver. The beautiful route and photos must of stuck in the craw of one Matt Deviney to such a degree that he worked tirelessly on finding a way back to Denver so as to avoid the treacherous no-shoulder/pucker-inducing-death-ride segment of Santa Fe north of Sedalia, between the small town of Louviers and Titan Road. We both recon’d different routes over the ensuing months, but neither could completely pre-ride the route and were skeptical we could find a better way back to Denver.
“It’s just a recovery ride”
These are probably the most mis-used words in cycling, they are around here with the Denver Rodeo crew anyway. Yesterday’s ride was supposed to be a pleasant spin to see if “the sensations are good”, but it didn’t take long for Peder and myself to get bored and start looking for silly things to do. Every time we passed a dirt offshoot of the road we’d yell “singletrack!” and see if the trail went anywhere. Most didn’t but some did, and we hit the derping payload when we took a turn onto the North Table mountain trail system. Yes, we were on our road bikes, but more and more that makes our dirt rides more fun and we were up for the challenge of seeing where our wheels would take us.