The horror was happening again an I fully blamed myself. When I was a kid I was doing the “odd thing” and pulling my dog in a wagon down main street Roundup Scotty bolted from it. All because another dog charged from the sidewalk. Scotty was struck and died in my arms as the driver looked on in horror. I killed my dog! And now I went off to do a “odd thing”, seeing if I could catch my friend after going a “little farther” for 10 minutes. She was no where to be found. Oh no! I panicked a little more and switched on my headlamp.
Then there was Marcy. It was my fault. I was more interested in my own “odd thing” that is riding for 8 hours straight and then basking in the glory. I knew instantly she had internal injuries and there I was half way between Butte and Missoula holding her and screaming out my pain. I killed her, another dog, another friend. I was now thrashing so fast down the single track I wondered if I was going to injure myself in my panic because I couldn’t find my riding partner. The day started out so positively. We were having so much fun .. maybe to much fun. I wondered how “safe” it was to bring beers along on a serious mountain bike ride. Surely I should of caught back up by now. Tears started coming down my face.
I replayed the day in my head, trying to gauge our pace and trying to remember where I was exactly. Was I getting close to the car? The sooner I could get back the sooner I could validate that I have, in fact, lost my partner. We started out on rocky terrain going along the Clarks Fork near St. Regis. The trail went through meadows and cedar forests. It climbed and ran along steep cliffs. It was actually a really beautiful ride. Too bad this has happened. Why was I so “odd”?
There was that small chance that my mind was playing tricks on me but the facts were stacking up against me. I only enjoyed swooping and gnarly single track for around 12 minutes before I turned around. I rode back to where we spit up as fast as I could to discover I was fading and my speed was slowing. And then the sun disappeared and turned dark. Now I was nearing the trail head and I flashed my light down the last ravine we had ridden just 2 hours before. Nothing. Why did I do that “odd thing” and go out further then everyone else? Why do I do that? Do I want to be alone?
And there was no way I was not going fast enough to catch up … right? My friend had a light that was so inadequate and mine was bright. Did a mountain lion attack? So many cliffs in the dark! I felt I needed to make a deal with some “god” to turn my luck. I whispered a plea … I didn’t want to loose another friend. Just then I saw a small flicker at the bottom of the last hill.
“Where were you? … I waited up many times”