Someone "wise" once told me that "time riding is simply the time in between crashes". With grandiose philosophies like these, ride names like "Death Ride", and blog accounts of pain, suffering and male leg shaving, clearly we who enjoy rolling on two wheels are a demented, if not psychotic breed. With that introduction, this recount of Thursday's off road session will not talk about grueling climbs, flowing single track or screaming descents - and definitely not the wildflowers and epic landscapes we see in the moments of coherency that occasion group mountain bike sessions. Rather, it focuses solely on one of those fractions of a section that serve to bookend the time wheels are on the ground rolling the way they're supposed to.
Where I spent a portion of my childhood, the acronym O.T.B. was synonymous with something just a bit different than it's meaning to most of us. Off Track Betting were "locations" - mostly in neighborhoods that bear no resemblance to anything in Telluride - where people who could not physically make it to the horse track could place their bets and hope for the best. At these O.T.B.'s fortunes were made or lost, and in many cases fortunes were made, and then lost, even if by virtue of being mugged on the way out the door. By contrast, in our sheltered (if not Utopian) world, O.T.B. simply stands for Over the Bars - a phenomenon we all know typically results in the same effect as the aforementioned mugging. Since it's probably safe to say that none of us are betting on horses these days (safe assumption?), it's probably also safe to say that you've assumed that "someone" went O.T.B. this Thursday, not TO the O.T.B. No big deal, really, but when that "someone" has already shared with us his stories of saddle breakage, double punctures, wife pinching (the kind that happens on the road, not the bedroom), and reverence for characters like the Tashkent Terror, Djamolidine Abdujaparov, it seemed to me that a back story was developing.
In a former life, a group of friends had a name for one of our teammates, a name that came not just for the literal resemblance, but for his style of riding that figuratively resembled the name - a style of which I wish I could claim as my own. The name was Gumby, a TV character some of you may remember as the green clay humanoid that regardless of abuse, always returned back to his original shape. On a bike, Gumby was THAT guy who let it all hang out, who wasn't afraid to play just a little dirty but who wasn't dirty to the core, but most importantly, who crashed and broke bike parts with a smile, and never seemed to suffer the effects to which most of us mortals are susceptible. It was not a derogatory term, but rather a badge of honor that was earned and respected...maybe with tones of jealously from those of us who were not as resilient to impact, and who needed to feather the brakes just a little more than he did.
To the present, as we descended down the Prospect Trail Thursday evening, we were led out by Dan at one of the sections where the trail crosses over a culvert that bridges a drainage ditch I'm estimating to be five or six feet deep by perhaps double those dimensions wide. Just prior to this crossing, the trail bends to the right just enough to make you think....or at least to make "me" think. Tim and I, who are watching Narcis open it up on the pre-turn straightaway, had no idea at this point that Narcis Knievel was about to attempt jumping the canyon. There was no brake squealing, no skidding, no turning and definitely no chance. Just like the true Mr. Knievel, laws of gravity prevailed and in a millisecond, Narcis disappeared into the ditch. I'm sure Tim has another variation of what seemed to be a slow motion movie happening in front of us, but what I remember most vividly is the reappearance of Narcis from the ditch almost as quickly as his disappearance, but this time, without a bike and not under the power of his own legs. I'm sure someone smarter than I could probably calculate how hard he hit simply by virtue of how far he bounced. For us, though, the speed at which he went O.T.B., hit the up side of the ditch, and re-appeared to the surface.....all in one motion....was enough to forego calculation attempts and just marvel at the spectacle. As the beneficiaries of front and second row seats to the event, after the initial first reaction inclination to laugh and cheer (does that make us bad people?), Tim and I assumed the more acceptable role of care givers, offering up our best service in the form of a question...."Dude!....are you okay?!"
Turns out, the fearless leader of our cycling gang WAS okay, and if not for the insistence by Tim, Dan and myself that he least take a look at his bike (to hell with his body, right?), the incident would not have even registered in the lime lost category. No bacon, no complaining, no problem. Gumby reincarnated.
Thanks for the fun (and entertaining) ride!
...ride forth with the cojones of Gumby!