Photo by PK (l to r: The Mayor, Anthony, Scott, DT, Jaime, Bill, Keith, Michael, Edzo, PK, AA, me, Mike)Whatever made me think that I should go out with 12 men, half of them on single-speeds, to ride sixty-something miles in the woods is beyond me. I was in over my head from the outset, despite bringing my full suspension geared bike to the gunfight ;).
We started the ride in the PR (also known as the Landlocked Forest). The pace was brisk, but I managed to outlast the first casualty of the ride. I was doubly excited to clean a hard corner I have never been able to make (on the Mangler trail, it is a hard right around a boulder), and to go on to clean that entire trail for the first time ever! We looped up all of the PR trails and headed to Lexington, where we lost our second rider (which was actually my fault - I looked and saw him, but he didn't see where we turned).
I knew that from here, I would be OK for the next parts of the ride - Willards Woods in Lexington, and then out to the Minuteman National Historic Park. By now, we were down to 10 riders, and I was feeling pretty good. Once we hit Estabrook Woods in Concord, however, I started to slow some, but did my best to hang on. After all, the trails in Estabrook led directly to lunch!
Four hours into the ride, we stopped at Fern's in Carlisle for delicious sandwiches and cold drinks. We were under strict orders, however - the stop needed to be as short as possible. I really wanted to turn tail and head home at this point (I should have followed Anthony), but was convinced to hang in at least until we got to Great Brook Farm. Reluctantly, I agreed, and we saddled back up to hit the trails behind Carlisle town hall, and out the Canal trail to the Cranberry bogs on Curve St.
I knew when Keith felt the need to help push me up the hill on Curve St that I was done. I did manage to ride the Acorn Loop, put my foot down on doing Fern Loop (that's the loop that made me cry the last time I did this ride), and met the boys on their return to the rest area at Great Brook. At that point, I was 46 miles and almost 6 hours into the ride, and I called "uncle". From here it was going to get somewhat more technical, and I just couldn't manage. I put my tail between my legs, and rode out through Great Brook to the Llama trail, and home on 225. I still ended with 55 miles and just over 6.5 hours of riding. WHEW!
As I was prepping for the feast that was to follow, I got a call from the group. Unfortunately, our friend The Mayor took a pretty bad digger about 3 miles from the house, and they needed some help. I borrowed Mary's van and drove over to the trail, following the EMTs who were en route. The consensus from the group is that Dave was riding along, and broke his bars, stopping him and sending him head first into the ground, looking like a scorpion, with his legs coming up to meet his head. Dave is tough though (we still talk about a ride he finished in which he broke his arm in 5 places, and then went to have steak and beer before going to the ER), and refused transport to the hospital. We did get some pictures of the police 4-wheeling him off the trail though ;).
In the end, the original group of 13 whittled down to a finishing group of eight. They did the entire planned loop, and ended up with 70 miles in just over 7 hours of riding. Was it epic? Only time will tell.