Maybe flower power

This coffee is horrible. Maybe I am in a bad mood that makes me think so. But maybe it is just bad coffee. Maybe I am just upset at myself for drinking coffee when I know I shouldn’t be drinking coffee this close to a 24 hour effort. Whatever the case, this is bad coffee.

Last night the brave souls of the Missoula Thursday Night Ride did the University Beacon ride. To me the ride was cold, wet, and yucky. Maybe I was in a bad mood and that made me feel so. But maybe not feeling your fingers enough to descend a head-wall in the pouring rain is horrible. Maybe I was just irritated at myself for not performing so well during a previous “opportunity” discussion. Whatever the case, last night was cold.

My observations are a little skewed but they are my observations. And this is my therapy, blogging the way I do. So this is my observation. There were 3 distinct groups last night. The weekly warriors, the socialites, and the la-la-landers.

Up front were the weekly warriors, the ones that are pent up all week. Let loose on a ride they just scramble up the trail quicker then anyone. Secretly they take pride in “beating” everyone to the top. They do it discreetly, starting off at group pace and just going harder and harder to try and out pace everyone. Sometimes they use the “breakaway group” trick. This is were they identify another warrior and ride with them until they are close to a stopping point or top of a climb. Then they really expose their intentions and go pretty darn hard to secure the king of the trail title. At certain points they look back as if to say, “Oh, my bad, I didn’t know how fast I was going”.

Next down the trail are the socialites. This is the largest pack and made up of the curious ones. The ones that snuggle up beside you to see what’s going on. They are connoisseurs of information. This group can be heard coming up the trail from great distances. For many this is the weekly social event, kind of like a church. It is the closest group and made up of the weekly ride elders. These folks are actually the ones that know the trails the best and chuckle to themselves as the weekly warriors speed up the trail to only take a wrong turn. They know that it is they that control the real pace of the ride. No one goes on without them.

After the main peloton is the la-la-landers. They hang off the back alone most of the time and for various reasons. It may look like they are the outcasts or the un-fit but in reality they are the ones enjoying riding the most. Even if the pace is too high and they are back because of fitness they are not blowing a gasket to out perform anyone like the weekly warriors. And unlike the socialites they actually get to see, smell, and hear nature, the very reason to be out riding.

I observed all of this from the la-la-landers position. But even though I was lolly-gagging I ended up home taking my shower decades before anyone else. How does a la-la-lander make it to the front of the pack and finish the ride while all the socialites are still up on the hill snapping photos and posing in fields of flowers?  Well let me explain.

Initially I was late and as I stepped out into the pouring rain I noticed the parking lot was empty. I figured that I was the only one stupid enough to try and ride University with the real possibility of hitting a big snow storm on top. As I began to pedal up the road and was trying to come up with reasons to just go home I spotted Lydia and Katie coming towards me. My plans to go home went right out the window. Upon talking to them I realized that I was also starting from the wrong parking lot. That is how I ended up riding la-la-landers.

We finally caught the group and I was amazed at how many crazy people were out in the rain riding up a mountain. Katie bridged up to the socialites immediately and could of even been aiming for the weekly warriors.  It was quite an impressive display of power. I drifted back to Lydia and took up residence in the la-la-landers for the remainder of the climb. Far ahead you could see the weekly warriors charging up the switchbacks. Leading the pace was Larry, Arron, and some new riders.

I couldn’t hang out on the summit because I was shivering violently. So I hunkered down on the ridge just below them and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to walk down and retain the little body heat I had left or ride down and let fear and speed keep the blood flowing. Suddenly the weekly warriors and the socialites came past me and down the wild flower strewn ridge. The ridge was very beautiful so I jumped on my bike and took up position in the la-la-landers group again.

One time I did bridge up to try my hand at socializing but while I waited In the rain for a photo op I discovered that I was really not dressed correctly and I had better get back to the trail head. I took to the trail and pulled back on the brakes as hard as I could with numb hands. Soon I caught up to the weekly warriors all huddled up on a knoll and waiting for the socialites. I recommended every person for themselves and continued down the mountain, brakes squealing wildly.

The rest of the ride down was more like kayaking then biking. It was creek, mud hole, creek, mud hole, creek, shiver shiver, shutter shutter, mud hole. I did finally make it to my car and drove home with heated seats and inside heater going full blast.  Next thing I knew I was standing in a hot shower wondering if everyone made it out. A hour after that I found my phone which to my horror was a distress text from Lydia. They were stranded on the mountain with a blown sidewall.

I quickly called while jumping into my car. I rang Lydia’s phone and she answered with a stern, “FINALLY”.  I was happy to hear the Lydia and Katie did finally stumble out of Crazy Canyon and were held up at Julies house recovering.  Just your typical Missoula Thursday Night Ride.

To me the ride was beautiful and resembled Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Alaska all rolled into one. Maybe my mood had changed and that made me feel so. But maybe riding with a group gives you reason to be outside when the weather doesn’t agree. Maybe I was just overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape. Whatever the case, last night was fun.

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