Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ötzi & The Ice Ride

Yesterday, February 7th, it was around 8pm when Larry and I pulled into a parking spot off of Ridge Road. It was dark and cold - 9 degrees would be the high. At 9 degrees the snow has a squeaky crunch, the air stings your nostrils, your lungs don't ever seem to adjust, and all things rubber and plastic begin their slow transition into brittle solids.

Larry had been kind enough to lend me one of his lighting systems - which is a huge upgrade over the LED Petzl Tikka light I had duct-taped to my helmet. We had done a night ride in Caledonia last Tuesday with John Heisler and a couple of his friends but that was at a balmy 28 degrees, closer to civilization, and with a larger group. Two of us, here, at 9 degrees was a different story. As we got prepared for the ride, we both commented that mechanicals would be a bad thing; getting lost, worse; and an injury, well we would be like that man and his dog in Jack London's To Build A Fire which is to say: Totally Fooked.

Here is Larry preparing for counter-terrorist winter training at an undisclosed location deep in the Michaux State Forest.
Larry wanted to show me a new ride start higher up on the ridge in order to keep the ride a little flatter. We had been burning in Connector Trail in Caledonia for weeks so a change was welcome.

The trails were riding really nice. This is one of the Ditch trails coming down off of Ridge Road.
Uh Larry, I have some bad news.....
Yes, it happened. A flat, a thorn puncture to be precise. I channeled some of the old DC bike courier mojo to change a flat quickly. I had to resort to bare hands and pulling a thorn out with my teeth. My CO2 inflator didn't fill the tire all the way so I topped it off with Larry's fancy bike pump.
The pump with the plastic stand and rubber hose. Note in the next picture of his pump that fancy plastic stand is missing - all things plastic....break.

We rode up Lollipop - backwards and then over to Camp Trail (Heisler's name for it). Larry says that his front tire is also feeling spongy, but that he is going to ride it till the bitter end.
Here is a picture of the bitter end.

Yes, that is me in the front trying to thaw out my toes and Larry in the back changing his flat. I do have a really nice pair of neoprene booties; however, they were back at my house. I'm saving them in case I ever go on a really cold ride. My toes were stiff, long past the cold and painful stage and just into they don't hurt anymore but they don't move either stage. In my infinite wisdom, I had removed the insoles from my shoes so that I could wear two pairs of socks. What that really did was remove the only insulator between my feet, my metal cleats, and the icy cold air/ground.

After the second flat was repaired and my foot had thawed out a bit, we got back into the flow and had a great time finishing up Camp Trail. Larry rippin it up single speed style. We poked around a couple of more places, the Camp Trail Extension, rode a big rock, and then we spun back up the car on fire roads. In all, over two hours outside in single digit temperatures without windchill cutting fresh tracks on trails.

Our training program calls for very specific recovery drinks: lucky for us they were still in a liquid state.

As we were driving home I thought of that mummified man they found in the Tyrolean Alps back in 1991, Otzi. In 3300 BC he had wandered up to a pass and froze to death. Today, through the use of modern science and creative imagination, folks have written books about his life, his final days, where he lived, what was doing there, what he ate for his last meal. These books and stories are largely based on an analysis of the contents of his stomach and the few artifacts he had with him. Had Larry and I not fared so well, what would they write about us in 5000 years? Sure, the athletic musculature aside, they would assume we lived on fermented grain juice, were out on a winter hunt, poaching on our metal machines - and they would be correct.

Time goes by but so little changes.


Anonymous said...

D,thanks!! you have a good thing going here keep it up. Jay

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