The weekend, as a whole, was marvelous. John H and I rode Friday night from my place over through Mansfield Hollow and back, and we loaded up my bike and a small amount of my luggage while settling on last minute plans for Saturday's departure. My week-long English class had me in class through Saturday afternoon, but fortunately, we were out by 1:15, and I was home within minutes of my release. I've found that I actually save time by commuting on my bike because I don't have to locate a parking spot, lock up my car, or walk across campus. John and Chris had already packed up my gear; I'd stashed it on the side of the house for just that reason.
We were on the road before 2pm. The trip north consisted of a whole lot of coffee, some community french bread pizza (I think we all gnawed on the same piece at one point or other), reading aloud (I read to the boys), and a GPS-related off-road adventure (technically, the GPS called it a road). We had a fun trip - even the mishap with the directions was an adventure. We finally rolled up to Coyote Hill sometime shortly before 6pm (I think), and after checking in, we hustled out to the course to pre-ride. It was awesome. I wasn't sure how I would feel on my 26 inch hard-tail, but I love that bike and the way it handles - no complaints... at least not then.
We had a blast checking out the loop. It's the best course, in my opinion, on the schedule. It's fun, technical, and punishing. We were in good spirits as we set up camp, chatted with our NBX/Union Velo pals, and headed out to find some food and beer. We were looking to meet up with the aforementioned pals but couldn't remember where they were going, and we were pretty ravenous. We ended up at a place called Bailey's Tavern on their outdoor deck. They had a delicious beer called "Switchback" which ended up being an odd compliment to the Bailey's Cheesecake that we all shared for dessert. They also had a little something called "fried pickles" - more on that later.
Breakfast for me was oatmeal, dried fruit, eggs, and coffee. Breakfast for those ding-dongs was everything else on the menu. It wasn't my place to tell them not to eat that crap, but I wasn't so sure about racing in the heat after a bunch of sausage and bacon. As it turns out, it was probably the fried pickles that I should have been worried about. I'm getting to that...
So, I had brought the Jamis (26er) because I screwed up the brakes on my Fate (29er) the night before we left. Rather than try to get my bike to the shop via someone else while I was in class Saturday, I threw the Fate in the basement, pulled out the Jamis, pumped up the tires, and decided it was going to get to race its little steel heart out. I love that bike. I really do. But... big tires would have been a brilliant move out on that bumpy bitch of a course. I took one hell of a beating as I muscled that thing over every bump I could. I had fun, but I was in a sorry state as early as the second out of the three laps. I was honestly ready to quit, especially when I started overheating and got the chills, but I realized I would have to face myself in the morning. After the flat tire the weekend before, there was no way that I could have left Coyote Hill unfinished. So I finished. It was a sad, sad sight. At least, for me it was. I had better expectations for myself going into this. I don't really know why, but I thought that my lack of ride time wouldn't be a problem. Boy was I wrong. Luckily, I am down to one class only two nights a week, and I should be able to find plenty of time to actually ride my bike.
Anyhow, the boys had a great race. Despite puking up fried pickles "on fried pickle at a time," John came in 6th, and Chris, in his first mountain bike race ever, came in 3rd behind fellow teammate, Rich. The whole race day was a blast. It took us awhile to get out of there, but we were eager to get over to Burke and our buddy Jesse joined us for this part of the adventure. We'd intended to do some riding after the race, but there was no way in hell my ass was getting back on a bike just yet. We found some good food and great service at the Tamarack Grill and then headed up the mountain to check-in to our campsite. As it turns out, a lean-to at the end of May is the way to go. We decided not to waste any time setting up a tent and just threw all of our bedding down in the lean-to.
Jesse and Chris, the young (childless) guys of the group seemed to not value the importance of rest or sleep. They headed out for a ride down Dead Mooose in the dark while John and I limped around the campsite. While I showered, I was entertained by a group of noisy campers who were clearly having a fantastic time, and as I laughed along with them, I was informed that the party was at site ___ (I can't remember now). The info was passed along to Jesse and Chris, and those silly boys made their way over to join the fun. John and I awoke to the sound of, "ready? go... *BANG*!" Apparently the party site had a gigantic box full of "poppers" and the boys thought it would be funny to pop some confetti into the lean-to at us. Lucky for them, it was indeed funny. After loading up on some beers, they headed back to the party, and we headed back to dreamland. Next up? Wild animal knocks over beer bottles at picnic table 5 feet from where we are sleeping. Luckily, it scared off easily, so I put the food away (should have thought about that earlier), and the rest of the night was uneventful.
Monday morning we broke-down camp, headed down the mountain for a quick breakfast, and suited up for an epic ride. Jesse hadn't been to Kingdom Trails before, so we had to fit a little of everything. We started off on the Burke side by riding up the mountain road to scoot over to Moose Alley, and we took the trails the long way into town. After a quick stop at the truck for more water, we headed up Darling Hill for an epic loop on that side: Coronary, Pasture Point, Troll Stroll, Webs, Eager Beaver, Violet's Outback, Sidewinder, Old Webs, etc... It was awesome, and we followed up with a good soak in the river before heading home.
I couldn't have asked for a better group of friends or a better weekend. I can't wait to do it again!