Anytime you have an event, certain years will stand out in your memory for years to come. The standout years usually receive some sort of label. Lotaja has the snowstorm year. The Superbowl has the wardrobe malfunction year. I have a feeling that in years to come, we'll look back at this year's ride around white rim in one day and refer to it as "the windy year."
Every year I have done "RAWROD", it each year has been really cold in the morning. Not this time though. It was so warm that I didn't even need arm or knee warmers to start the ride. And if I didn't need them in the morning, it would be silly for me to pack them for later, since everyone knows it just gets warmer, right? STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! Why would the skinny kid with no natural insulation not pack any warm clothes? Lesson learned, I hope.
Anyway, on the climb up Mineral Bottom and the pavement, my legs felt the effects from the previous day's rides, but nothing too bad. The ride on Mineral Bottom is always a good time. Everyone is excited to be embarking on what will surely be an adventure.
The view from the top of Shaffer's is pretty breathtaking. And a little daunting, because once you drop in, you are riding on credit all the way until you have to pay it back at the end of the ride.
I rode with Rick, Dug, et al. until reaching Musselman Arch. Some people can't step onto Musselman Arch without getting vertigo. Shoot, some people can hardly look at the thing without feelings of vertigo.
And then there is Kenny, who does handstands on top of it. In the wind. Next year I'll ask him to do some back handsprings across it to give him more of a challenge.
We left Musselman and I started riding with Chad and Mark, who was a White Rim virgin before Saturday. But after stopping to chat with a few people, I quickly found myself alone. It seems like the past two years I've riding alone quite a bit, but I don't mind. It gives me the chance to stop at places like this, where I can't help but think I must be on another planet entirely:
This next picture is at what has to be one of the most amazing viewpoints in the world. I'm not exaggerating. Too bad these three dudes had to go and ruin it (just kidding Craig, Larry and Kyle - who rode his first ever century, and did it in the dirt the way it should be):
I caught up to Fish and road with him till lunch. I doubt he remembers, because he was already pretty delirious at the time. Not a good sign 50 miles into a 101 mile ride. Amazingly, lunch revitalized him and he finished strong.
We had been riding into a headwind up till this point, but I didn't mind it. It felt good, and I knew that we'd have it in our favor on the way back to Horsethief. At about this time, my legs were feeling okay, but I started having some other "issues" that would haunt me for the rest of the day. Let's just say that I'd stop at the side of the road expecting to go number 1, and would suddenly find myself running for the hills in search of some seclusion. So if you and I were riding along together from miles 50 till 101 and I suddenly disappeared without warning, well, now you know.
At mile 60(ish), we hit White Crack for lunch. Even though it was cold and I was kicking myself for not bringing warm clothes, we were excited because the wind would surely be on our side the rest of the way...
Except it wasn't. The wind shifted and it really picked up. 40-50 mph gusts of wind and sand were not uncommon from files 60 till 90. I'm still finding sand embedded in my ears, eyes, and hair. We eventually got to Murphy's Hogback and started the climb. On the way up, I thought that we already had the cold, the wind and the steep climb. It would only be fitting to get a rainstorm. Nature obliged and we all got pretty well soaked on the way down Murphy's, but not before I snapped this picture of the ominous storm at the top:
From Murphy's to Hardscrabble, I road with Jon, Craig, Brandon, etc. for a while, which helped with the near constant headwind, but I had, um "issues" which forced me to fall off the back. So I road most of the stretch between Murphy's and Hardscrabble alone, with a few stretches with Adam, who was riding the White Rim for the second time in as many days.
It's funny, because looking back on the ride, I can pretty much only remember having a great time, even during the long solo sections from miles 60-90, I vividly remember telling myself multiple times that I was cold and miserable. But I don't actually remember being cold and miserable. I only remember loving the ride.
As I climbed Hardscrabble, I planned on waiting for Fish and riding with him to Horsethief. I got to the top, where we typically regroup, but the top was a ghost town. I waited for a little while, but ultimately got too cold, and well, was still having some "issues", so I bailed and headed down. Sorry Fish. Campain promises were broken. I promise to do better during my next term.
The last stretch along the river was one of the highlights of the ride for me. For once, the wind was cooperating. My legs felt surprisingly good, and riding next to the river is refreshing and scenic.
I hooked up with Rob along the river and road with him for a while. Turns out it was his first century ride as well. Not only did he do it dirty, but he did it dirty and single, and finished strong. We split up and finished off the day with the climb up Horsethief. Call me crazy, but I actually like that climb. Nice and gradual, with the reward of being finished when you get to the top.
Another White Rim in the books. Thanks to Kenny for the bread and brats. And to all that I did ride with, it was a pleasure.