Mandy had to work. She works outside the home two days a week. She had to work. Jeff had to work. Jeaph is self employed. He had to work. Dave did not have to work. Unfortuitously Dave had to attend a funeral (and even more unfortuitously not the reading of a will).
Yeah, yeah, there are scads of other people I could have tried to hook up with to go riding on this fine Veterans Day. These are pretty much the three people I try to ride with and rarely find opportunity anymore. Tomahawk worked. Joe doesn't mountain bike. The Crash Test Librarian doesn't mountain bike either.
Oh, right, I was pretty bent out of shape to go mountain biking. And more specifically to Skullbuster because I don't seem to have opportunity to ride there much anymore, and I truly do love that place over other Bluegrass mountain biking trails.
If it hadn't been hunting season I'd most likely have gone MTB 'splorin' in the 4CORP (four county off road park) area. Or if not that then back to Cave Run to hit Buckskin after nearly twenty years since the last time.
Skullbuster had me mesmerized. And so I was headed northwest from the Red River Regional Bikeport into a fantastic Veterans Day bliss. I was shocked when I rolled into an empty parking lot. In the chill air I deployed The One, peeled my leg and arm warmers, and then took off down Stockdell Road .
I was warmed up well by the time I reached the singletrack proper and charged onto the Green Trail. As I rolled over rocks and roots hidden by a deep carpet of leaves my mind squirmed in discomfort. It's been too long, and I've not ridden enough. I felt like a complete noob for the first ten minutes. But by the time I reached the Blue Trail I was warmed up body and mind.
And just before I reached the Orange Trail split-off I saw two things that were somewhat disconcerting: an eight point buck and a tree stand. I'd not heard a single gunshot since leaving the car, and there was no sign of a hunter in the area or that the deer was spooked, but it brought hunting season back into full relief.
Counting on my clacking Hope rear hub to announce my presence I dropped onto the Orange Trail gunning for the back forty loop. At that point my energy levels were mid-lining, but as I climbed up the Mailbox Climb my energy tanked and my gut started roiling noticeably. Details aside I felt better after a pit stop on the ridge.
I felt better as I descended. The far flung trails seemed to be better weathered in. The trailbed was firm and bare of leaves for the most part. I struggled to maintain my effort on the pedals through the Orange Trail. My sluggishness caused me to stop in downtown Logville (not a real town) to check my air pressure and suck down some water.
I climbed out of downtown and finally felt a little spark in my pistons. The new section of the Orange is pretty cool. It doesn't add a ton of mileage but it eliminates the majority of backtracking from the back orange loop to the Blue Trail.
Once back at the Blue Trail junction I decided I'd eat the lone Honey Stinger waffle I took in hopes of jacking up my energy flow a bit.
I felt loose and warmed. Out in Orange County my wheels finally started to find their line. My speed picked up. I cranked with confidence through rocky sections and up short hills. With the waffle in me my strength grew. Tracing the blue line I found my groove.
Flow washed over my brain. The long backside of Blue contoured and rolled and pulled me along. Baby blue is a fine trail, but despite the maxed out enjoyment levels found there every time I ride it I hit a point when I want to be done. I don't get bored exactly...but maybe I'd been out too long and was feeling a creeping urgency to get home.
It's all rocky, rooty goodness. But somewhere along the last mile of the blue loop I always get anxious to get off of it, like I'm bored, but that's the best part
My synapses sucked the proprioceptive flood in until I nearly drowned in it. Weakness fell away. Knee pain fell away. Gut distress was forgotten. I pedaled. The bike carved the trail. I was one with the bike.
As the end of the Blue Trail came rushing headlong at me I suddenly felt fully regretful that the ride was almost over. The trail, the bike, and my body melted together into a proprioceptive storm that rushed around me like a hurricane around a boulder.
Faster I flew down the trail gliding over small humps, dodging trees by millimeters, and crushing flagstones and roots to dust under my wheels. I forgot the ride was ending. I was truly in a timeless state of Flow.
From Blue to Green I cruised. The ride was truly almost over at that point. I pedaled easier over the mandatory backtrack to Stockdell Road and then cranked hard along the narrow and rough road, through the "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here" gate and on to the car.
I cranked Tyler Childers on the ride home. This was not a lunchtime poaching. For the first time ever I rode at Skullbuster unconstrained by the lunch hour convention.
And that's all I have to say about that.