Some of you locals know of a hill called Lawrence. It's a bitch of a climb; long rollers without an end-in-sight, getting steeper as you go. Well, I live on that hill. This means that every Pirate Ride starts with a long descent, and ends with a long ascent. As we get closer to the winter solstice, it gets damn chilly riding down that hill at the beginning of the ride, when you are not even close to being 'warmed up'. Not to mention the blast of cold that you get when you reach it's bottom - the Mill Creek Valley. Flippin' cold. Reminds me of times as a teenager, cruising around in my VW Bus, every window down with temps in the teens: Freeze Out!
I knew tonight's ride was going to be a good one due to the simple fact that I've been off the bike (for way too long) and have been craving some saddle time. I also knew it was going to hurt. We'd ride a ton of rogue trail (which I had scoped-out earlier in the day, knowing it was in speck-TACK-u-lar condition), the beer fridge was full and the post ride fire prepared.
The crew; The Silent Killer, The Manimal, Captain Cuntwat, Cliff and Me. We rolled into the woods moving at a steady pace under a crystal-clear, star-filled sky. We warmed-up quickly as we rode the first four miles/400 feet of elevation gain. It seemed as though we were on a mission to climb every hill, be it short and technical or a long torture fest. If we failed on any section, we'd give it another go, stopping once in a while to watch and heckle each other makes a ride more fun for sure. It's great to ride with friends that are psyched to be out, having a good time and not overly possesed by a training schedule - but rather enjoy being outside, in the dark with the feeling you have somehow escaped the hustle of city life.
We had a few interesting moments in the woods where we might have been somewhere we shouldn't have been, and had to elude those who might expose our quest for the holy grail ofall things dirt. Times like this keep your heart rate up and your mind alert. We were like ninjas on bikes. We felt like kids again - out after the streetlights were on, getting into harmless mischief, the kind that 'the man' tries to help us protect ourselves from. You know what I mean.
We rode a lot of varied terrain - mostly dirt single-track strewn with rock and tree roots that all too often gave you a chance to go OTB, like it or not. There was a ton of dead-fall on the trail; logs ranging from 6" to 30" in diameter. I enjoy hoping these random logs that come out of nowhere, at speed - a test of reflexes where hesitation would get the best of you.
Toes were getting cold so we opted for an 'as the crow flies' effort back to the lair. We chilled, laughed about our mini epic 16 mile night ride, and enjoyed a few malt beverages around a warm fire. What can I say, riding bikes in the dark = fun. Do it.