Monday, May 21, 2007
Welcome Home, Ben
I've decided to post this entry first as Ben and I had a nearly transcendental ride last week. There are several key factors that contribute to a ride being burned into my memory. First, the person or persons I'm riding with need to be people that I'd spend the time and effort to associate with regardless of whether we are able to ride together. I don't mind suffering up a climb. In fact, sometimes I intentionally seek out that kind of suffering. The saying that misery loves comes to mind. So, if I'm able to have an engaging conversation, the suffering aspect of the ride tends to be similar. Ben is one of my best friends, so this was a no-brainer. Second, trail conditions need to be right. After a while you start sensing when the trails will be good. There's been enough warm days that snow is melted. You can almost smell the recent rain storm that brings down just enough water to pack the trails down, but not so much that they're sloppy. The temperature starts hovering around the low to mid sixties in the hills. It was all there. Finally, riding ability needs to be fairly evenly matched. I hate riding with people when I'm clearly the anchor. I'm talking about those rides where I'm not just a weight in the boat that's making the boat ride lower in the water and slowing everyone down. It's the times that I'm the guy that is dragging the ride to a stop and all everyone really wants to do is cut me loose and go sailing on unimpeded. (Man, that was a long boat analogy for someone who avoids boating). Ben and I are both big guys that ride more than people think we do. The climb seemed to be a decent pace. The trail was grippy. Very few people were out. Just me and my dog Jesse and Ben and his dog Tsubo. South Fork was in rare form. The corners were smooth and grippy. The meadows were green, but not over grown. You could go as fast as you wanted and the trail would just lay out the line for you. We dug into the berms as we railed each corner. We couldn't miss. Ben's descending prowess kept him in nearly constant contact, so there was no real waiting at any of the intersections to make sure he wasn't bleeding somewhere up above. It was one of those early spring rides that makes you remember why you own mountain bikes and one of the best things about Utah. At the end of the ride, I was giddy. I was giggling like a school girl. Ben said, "You know, I haven't ridden that fast for that long . . . maybe ever." I gave him a hug and said, "Welcome home, Ben." After we were done riding, we watched the jazz game and put together a meal. Welcome home, Ben, indeed. I have a feeling it's going to be one of those summers that we talk about when we're old and gray. One of the summers that shapes our childrens' recollection of their childhoods. And that, that's a good thing.