Nearly one year ago I was having a great time, save for some scratches on my neck. We were working on hour number two at the Tour de San Felasco. This is an annual bike ride pilgrimage to High Springs, Florida our crew has been making for nearly 10 years. We have a crew with varied skills and fitness levels so depending on who you are, the 50 mile off-road trek takes five to eight hours to complete. This year was no different in many ways, but it was different in many ways. I was ill-prepared as usual, but was having a great time. Leading up to the Tour I’d been commuting because my shitty Chevy Tahoe was broke down. This gave me a false sense of capability. At hour two it was all jokes for me. I was going slower than I wanted and even checking on other guys to make sure they were OK. With nearly 20 riders in our now trademark black and orange, there was ample space on the trail to move back in forth in the group. Some of our faster riders had checked out after the first check/feed station (about mile marker 12). That did not matter because I was having a blast.
My neck was already sore – not from riding though. It was from cloth burn where Micro ripped off the remaining bits of my shirt – part of my incredibly fat hulk costume. That was in the middle of a Target toy section. We were looking for green face paint to make my costume more realistic. Everybody had dressed up like an odd ball the day before for the drive down. As usual I had not prepared properly and had a pretty pitiful job of making a costume. It was, however, hilarious to look at our group dressed up like clowns at the Gainseville Ale House. Perhaps it was the beer, Micro’s wrestling roots or a combination that provoked him to attack me in Target.
My plan was to eat and drink with minimal stopping. The plan was to NOT stop at lunch. That’s the only thing I don’t like about the Tour. For me, the soup is horrible. The only thing worse than the overly seasoned chicken noodle, is the indigestion in-a-bowl red colored concoction. For all I know it’s chili or minestrone or veggie. Others rave about it. Whatever, I hate it.
All of these thoughts were going through my head. I did not know it then, but we ended up stopping at lunch. I had no way of knowing that I’d feel great a lunch. That I would spend time rushing Steve (aka Mac) and Swoell (aka Lyle) so we could keep the momentum up.The clock would be ticking for me – Steve and Lyle would have trouble too. This would be the best Tour yet, mostly because that added more single track. Unfortunately, that meant less double track. In the later miles double track becomes your friend because it travels faster than tight, twisty trails.
I had no way of knowing that in about four or so hours, I’d enter one of the darkest places ever. I’d learn that mile 40 and beyond are not good for me. I would later discover my suspicions were correct. That Tour organizers ran some of the sections backwards, and that the one big switch back climb would be later in the ride. For me, it would end up being excruciating. Leg burning induced hatred. No longer would I be able to joke. I’d be unable to complete a sentence without some form of the word f#ck. I ended up so deep in the hate cave that I would not come out for more than a month.
This year I’m slower, fatter and the last time I rode a bike was November 8th. Added this year are a few extra layers. My back is injured and I’m riding a 29er rigid single speed. Bring it on.