Monday, May 01, 2006

You probably think I'm a complete slacker since I haven't written anything on here in over a month, but honestly nothing could be further from the truth. I'm always a busy guy, but this past month went too far past that point for comfort. I've been out of town for some part of each week for the past 5 weeks now, most of it down south in Little Rock.

I've been running an installation of several major pieces of equipment in a plant down there, trying to cram months of work into a matter of a couple weeks. Add in getting Bronchitis and then Strep throat in there and it's been a hell of a month. Last week I had to do my timesheet for work and I had about 380 hours of work logged in under 4 weeks, so needless to say I'm overdue for some rest.

Rather than do that though, I decided to stick to some travel plans I had made way back in Jan to go to the Fruita Fat Tire Festival. I debated pretty had even going since I was so tired when I got back in town from Little Rock, but I had bought the plane ticket months ago and I really wanted some time to just get away from anything related to work. Colorado seemed like a good place to do that.

This trip had started off slow way back when we were organizing it, it was looking like 3 or 4 of us were going to fly out there and ride bikes for 4 days. Well, by the time last week came around our Kenwood group was up to 11 people heading out from Wed- Sun. Big group to say the least, but what was even more amazing was how many other folks from Minneapolis headed out to Fruita for the fest. It seemed everywhere we went we kept running into people we knew from town. I'd say between the groups from Kenwood, Surly, Morc, CRC, and a last minute appearance by Geno, there were probably 40 or more people from Minnepolis out there. Kinda weird.

The first two days out were pretty much a complete shock to my system as I hadn't gotten any kind of exercise in 3 weeks due to work getting in the way. Even the modest elevation out in Fruita was painful and my legs constantly reminded me they were in no condition for this riding. Wednesday we just went easy supposedly and did a little 3 hour afternoon ride at Mary's loop. Thursday however was a knock-down, drag-out grudge match of a ride around the Edge loop and a few other areas. The ride took us about 5 hours I think (I lost track of time) and I'd guess we put in about 40 miles. The ride was pretty much a long gravel road climb that kept getting steeper and steeper. Did I mention all but three of us were on singlespeeds? My 34-20 gear on the 29'er was great for most of the riding, but this climb was too much. I bet I walked about 2-3 miles of climb, but eventually made it up top. The descent after that seemed like it should have been great and it was for a little while, but then the trail runs in a dried up stream bed for several miles. So you're completely wasted from climbing a couple thousand feet over about 10 miles, then you get to ride down a deep, loose gravel stream bed with spear-like sticks jabbing you the whole way. Fun stuff. By the time we made it back to town to find some dinner I had a terrible time trying to stay away until the food arrived. That night I slept good.

The next day I didn't have a whole lot of fire left in my legs, but after a good meal and an hour on the trails I was starting to feel better. I think my legs were starting to remember how riding felt. We broke up the riding Friday, roughly 3 hours in the morning and 3 in the late afternoon. That worked much better for me as I had time to recover between rides and get some food. By the end of Friday I was actually feeling really good and took an extra run down Chutes and Ladders with the extra energy.

Saturday the riding got dialed up a bit. I figured that might not be in my best interest so I opted to cut a few miles of trail out early and ride with the Vitch (who had just arrived via moto bike), then hook back up with the group mid-trail. By the time the rest of the group showed up I was feeling pretty good, so I jumped in and we continued on the Troy-Built trail and climbed up to the ridge trail up top. Rowntree had described the climb up to the ridge to us before we got there, I think he said it was a "stupid steep gravel road" and it pretty much was. I managed to ride most of it, only getting off the bike twice. It was the first time this year I felt like I was starting to get my climbing legs back, felt good.

Saturday night we headed into town for some dinner then planned to check out the festivities downtown. Fruita has very limited dining, there's a great pizza shop, two mexican restaraunts, Munchies (a burger place) and a few fast food options. The brew pub closed unfortunately. A few of us wanted burgers so we went to munchies and the rest headed for pizza. We planned to meet up at the pizza place then head downtown. Well the pizza place was out of food (I guess they didn't plan on the big rush for the fest), but agreed to let them eat there and serve them beer if they wanted to get food elsewhere. So the rest of the group headed down to Munchies to get some take-out and bring it back to the pizza place, which they did. We all ended up at the pizza place hanging out and drinking fat-tire.

The pizza place closed and let us stay since it was practically free money to them serving us beer while they cleaned up. But the clean-up portion turned into basically a big party in the pizza joint and we stayed until after midnight. I won't elaborate on that much to protect certain folks, but let's just say there was Kenwoodie VS. Fruita-females arm-wrestling, a guy madly whipping a disco ball around over his head while sort-of dancing on a table, a walker, a mop, and a guy somewhat dressed like a cop writing people tickets. A very odd but incredibly entertaining night at the Hot Tomato pizza shop. I left sometime around 12:30 as I was wiped out from riding and not sleeping that much. I think some of the others left shortly after and headed to Troy's (the owner of the local bike shop) house for more partying.

Overall the trip was great even if it wasn't really "restful". I slept for about 10 hours last night and hope to do the same tonight. Maybe start feeling normal again.

As a side note about bikes. Punky Smurf was kind enough to drive out to Fruita on this trip and bring bikes with him, so I didn't take my usual S & S off road bike, I took the 29'er instead. I've been a fan of the 29'er for a while and have been riding one for 2 years now. After riding it out west on the rocky trails and rough terrain, I'm even more convinced. The big wheels just flow right over everything, my descending was so much easier and faster than it ever has been on a 26" wheeled bike. I think I'm going full on 29'er, time to put couplers in one so I can travel with it. Anyone want an S & S headshock 26" wheeled frame? I'll have one for sale soon...


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