Sunday, July 28, 2013

Belvedere and Cheap Hookers

It started with Belvedere and high brow discussion on the politics and pitfalls (potentially fatal) of trail building at Marsh Creek. We developed some cleverly double-talk regarding "Friday Evening Services" (a.k.a. the Friday Happy Hour Ride) and we even dabbled in the finer points of road riding tactics.

But alas the bikes in the driveway all had knobbies on them, the Belvedere was in a plastic water bottle, and the cheap hooker was 12% DEET and not interested in small talk so we around 9:00 we saddled up and she led us into the dark depths of Marsh Creek Madness.

The Gang of Eight. One is behind the camera.
Captain Belvedere is on the left.
Our first stop was the race marshals stationed midway up the rocky climb. They looked thirsty and they had a bird's eye view of a blind turn diving through loose sand into a 100 yard rock garden. We saked the marshal's thirst and cheered the racers before striking out for our final destination.

The ride to the ruins was generally relaxed pace, but occasionally punctuated by frenetic mad dashes to avoid interfering with racers on the course. We could hear the the music pumping and the crowd cheering in the distance.

At the ruins, the stonework was festooned with hundreds of Christmas tree lights. A temporary platform had been constructed 8' in the air between two trees straddling the trail. The trail dove under the platform before hitting a 1' drop into a 90 degree left hand turn. The entire area was bathed in a soft glow from the Christmas tree lights, and the trail was lined on both sides with revelers cheering on the riders. Two or three people stood on the platform waving what looked like flaming torches (and I hoped were actually glow sticks) whenever a biker dove under the platform. The scene was both bizarre, exhilarating, chaotic, festive, and a little bit dangerous (echoes of Belvedere and cheap hookers).
Racers descending lower Rocky Climb

Decending into this raucous scene as a spectator was amazing. The singletrack is downhill and very tight, like a glowing tunnel through the underbrush. But then we burst out into the clearing around the ruins and people were lining the trail, they were in the trees (platform), they are on the ruins, they were everywhere and they were cheering and the music was pumping.  For the racers who were spending over an hour on the course alone in their thoughts and their pain, rolling into this scene must have been like a bizarre hallucination before they dove back into the woods and the dark for the rest of the decent.

We ditched our bikes, settled in, and started passing a magnum of Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale. One of the racers got swept up in the moment and got some air off the drop. He wrecked in the turn. The crowd roared their approval and support and he was back on his bike and rolling in seconds. Another tried to make a pass around the trees. A couple riders skidded to a barely controlled stop next to a drink table and helped themselves to some complementary electrolytes before continuing their race.
Once a year, the ruins turn into a city of lights

A little after 11:00 pm the gap between racers started to grow. Our supplies were depleted and Rob's swimming pool was beckoning. We saddled up for another frenetic dash down the race course and then picked our way along the old railroad bed in the dark (ouch) back to the neighborhood and the coolers and the pool.

We ended the evening with a nice soft landing, floating in the pool under the stars, reveling in our shared appreciation for bicycles, swimming pools, and laughter.

Now it's just 364 days until Marsh Creek Madness 2014...

"I got drank"
     -- anonymous liberal arts college professor

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