SuperSweetwater or "Getting to Know Me"
It's been nearly 20 years that my only social life involves biking. Now that I have kids I have made new friends with something other than bikes in common, the experience and challenge of raising kids. But mostly, time with friends is spent on the bike. If you're reading this I need not explain. When I returned to Sonoma County after graduating from H.S.U. I remember turning down concerts, a day at the beach, parties, to ride with my friends from Gianni Cyclery. There were many firsts, both solo and with groups.Many unknowns; routes, abilities, breaking points of our equipment and ourselves. Firsts like King Ridge solo from my house on Mt. Jackson on my mountain bike with slicks, Hi-Tech hiking boots...snacking on top of Hauser Bride with a pb&j and a king size Snickers. Riding Old Caz with Leo en route for Fort Ross Rd. Discovering Mill Creek on my own. Getting darked on at Mannings Flat on Mother's day and finally making it to Guerneville at midnight after an evening nap on Gilliam Creek. Grasshopper Peak solo on my roadbike, then driving all the way to Snap's to make a party. The triple in Moab with Winkle; Behind the Rocks, Pritchet Canyon-Hurah Pass to Jacobs Ladder, Kings to Skaggs on dirt...it goes on. But why? Early on I was enticed to race for the thrill and challenge, but the ride itself wasn't an adventure. Racing is about how fast you can do a particular route. Racing on the road can be exciting, but there was too much waiting, watching, planning. There's an appeal to this still and I alternate adventure rides with suffer fest races. When it comes down to it there's nothing that beats the silence and shallow breathing that accompanies the sensation, the uncertainty, the questions that no one is willing to voice..."will we really get back before dark?" "Does Mig really know where the fuck we are?" "Do I have enough water?" "How long can one go without feeling fingers and toes before you really need to worry?" "Am I going to get shot by a pig hunter?" Sometimes I wonder if we've ridden the word "Adventure" out of the Grasshopper Series. This year there is no doubt it remains, perhaps more prominent than ever. Even on the roadiest of road loop I know there were many people on Wilson Hill who were considering bailing through Freestone and not complete the loop up Joy.This thought probably tortured the mind, chewed on it like some stale mental beef jerkey to pass the time. Some even in the top 30 called it a day and limped home. I did get bucked off momentarily on Joy and whooped it up, but oh well, I'm not imune to my own medicine of suffering as many will attest. This is a tough crowd. If there is one thing the Hoppers isn't, is "negative". Almost everyone, everytime is riding their hardest. There is no "laughing bus", no "omnibus" of sprinters. It's tribal and it's the school of tough love. Combining dirt with road is as good as it gets. In Sonoma County we have a few options and most have been done. The beauty is in creating something new. A new loop, a new dance, a new way of being on the bike. Doing something different is an adventure. Doing something different with 200 friends is like ultimate cage fighting men's circle complete with talking stick..especially when we finish up Freezout. Think about the hardest climb you've ever done at the end of a long day. Then think about Brad chasing you, cackling, waiting to force feed you nutella-coated cold bacon and warm beer if he catches you, then think how lucky you are to be riding your bike, inches from the edge of our continents, healthy lungs heart, mind (at least mostly) and a bike to see you through (hopefully). The more you curse me during the ride, the more you will thank me at the end. After all, it's for your own good grasshopper. Stay tuned for more Grasshopper details.