Sunday, January 08, 2012

Go Tell Him Nuts

Harry had taken the precaution of swapping out the pedal clips on both bikes for standard pedals that anyone in running shoes, boots, flip flops or Turkish bath sandals could ride on.

Clips were specialized pedals that could only be used with shoes fitted with metal tabs on the bottom that clipped into the pedals and locked the shoes in to provide a longer power stroke for the rider. Here was the essential intersection between cycling and sexuality that had initially interested Harry.

The biggest drawback to the metal tabs, other than when you walked on a hard surface with them they gave the impression of a nascient tap dancer without the benefit of rhythm, was that they were generally fitted to sports shoes with the functionality of a negative heel seventies sandal. Perched high atop a bicycle, these shoes worked well so long as they did not encounter the level earth. However, once out of the saddle, they had the environmental ergonomic of an ice skate in a peat bog. So Harry swapped out the pedals for regular cut metal pedals with high points cut into then to grasp to the sole of an average shoe or cut deeply into the naked flesh of a rider if incorrectly engaged.

As he keyed up the pedal to mount the bike, the opposing pedal swung back and drew first blood off his shin like a rattlesnake on tequila. Jim was already mounted and pedalling feverishly up the first trail.

"This is a great bike!" Jim shouted back to Harry. It was a good bike to be sure, a Marin Palisades Trail front suspended bike, but not the fully suspended monster Harry was following up on. However, beauty being in the eye of the beholder, Harry quickly caught that while his current standard was the technically evolved Giant Attack bike, Jim had heretofore been riding an early nineties unsuspended Bianchi. Hence on the Marin, now able to bounce the front fork off rocks without rattling a few fillings loose, Jim might as well have been placed in full command of the Space Shuttle after forsaking an old Ford pickup. And indeed, he leaned into the bike and pushed uphill with force that left Harry checking his beard stubble for afterburner scorching.

"You might not think this possible, but right now I hate you even more." Harry said to Jim's outline on the ridge between violent inhalations of what little air he could get into his lungs.

The trail consisted of three elements: a steep, graveled uphill interspersed only with large rocks across the trail to prevent erosion, a level ride along the ridgeline that lasted all of thirteen seconds before, a steep plunge back down to lake level interspersed only with large rocks across the trail to prevent erosion off the mountain. Here was where Harry took issue with human intervention in geology: Clearly, erosion had been established as some sort of natural defense against mountains becoming too uppity. Erosion was a good thing. It kept high things in their place with the enforced humility of today's pristine peak is tomorrow's river slurry. But along had come man and artificially blocked this wonderful natural process. By laying stones across the path, man ensured that rain did not form conduits of mud and muck that pulled soil downhill and created ravines that ate away at the root growth of plants atop the rise. Man also created eight to eighteen inch rock obstacles that man assumed riders could jump with bikes. Man assumed falsely riders with oxygen rich blood that was not currently weeping off the latest pedal smack to the shin.

So Harry developed a routine of slowing, dismounting and hauling the bike over the rock obstacle. Here is where the non-clipping pedals came in handy because standard pedals allowed him to dismount without first forgetting he was clipped in, attempting to wrench his feet out in time but ultimately falling over sideways before he freed himself.

Jim was on the trail ahead of him somewhere and Harry could only hope he was making good time that that the re-introduction of wolves into this part of the state had been successful.

The thirteen second ride across the ridge, across relatively flat single track terrain with the ability to steer and still take in nature's providence took about thirteen seconds. By Harry's count, twelve thousand seconds too little to make an appreciable difference in this race which Harry had now dubbed "Adventures in torture." The trail turned abruptly left and bounced downhill over rocks, stumps and the same damned erosion retarders Harry had battled uphill. Now one would assume that downhill would be easier as you'd just have to jump off and over the things. And indeed that was the case if you were in your twenties and the idea of jump was not followed as it was in Harry's case with the idea of land.

And hard.

Here was where Harry realized that the secret of turning forty was the revelation of mortality. Nobody else really knew nor cared what happened when the bike landed, everybody else assumed a continuance of the forward motion of the thing. Indeed, probably only Harry was comparing long term disability actuarial tables on the way down to distract himself. So he slowed every time he got to an erosion barricade and went over it carefully to avoid driving the bike seat into his nether regions upon landing. He lost count of the landings but noted that he never did quite get the exact hang of it.

How did Jim get down here so fast without harming himself likewise? Probably not at all, but then it occurred to Harry that Jim was already raising two children and probably didn't care as much anyway.

The next leg of the race was to be on foot. A run and orienteering. Harry came out of the woods on his bike to find Jim sitting on the grass next to a small, dammed stream that provided the water from mountain runoff to the lake they had canoed on.

"Man that took you a long time!" Jim said. "Come on, we need to get maps over at that table and get going. We've got to catch up here."

Harry got off the bike and was staring at the dark water behind the dam. Cool and dark, it was alluring after the dusty downhill of the gonad-smasher express.

"Come on man!" Jim insisted. "Why are you staring at that?"

"So how deep and cold do you think it is just behind the dam?"


Blogger Johnny C. said...

I'm ten years behind. Thanks for the heads up on what I have to look forward to. Granted, I'm still not a fan of bikes after doing a Superman over the handle bars when I was 12.

I doubt Superman ever laid in the street crying.

9:38 AM  
Blogger ruzzel01 said...

He will get pissed off for sure.
krk realty

10:36 AM  

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