Oh the guilt… How much ride time can you to take from your buds before you say, “Ok ok, just go on without me”
“Hold on a sec, I’ve got to get my gear back on…!” Or “Just a minute”, as you suck back a snack bar. Perhaps something more serious like “Hey man, somehow there’s a hole in my crankcase… got any JB?” So many different ways to slow progress on a group ride. Good buds will give you a nudge when its time to hustle, and endless assistance when things go wrong. On a recent bush ride I realized I ride with some pretty good dudes, but I can hit a limit on how much patience I’m willing to accept.
Hesitant, but accepting an invite from some usual bush bashing buds, I joined a small ride gathering on a brisk -3 degree morning. Feeling at ease, there were a few of us on the big bikes giving me some assurance of the “relaxed ride” I was looking for. This meaning a good day of just flying through the mountains and less flying into rocks, creeks, trees, roots and ditches. So a “no problem” kinda day…
Making our way up the west side of lower Vancouver Island we found the gravel entrance to the bush passing the regular orange obstacle. You know the ones.
One of us on his shiny, “new to the dirt”, DR supermoto, was stoked and ready to supermario jump his ass back on his bike and give the mountain a ripping. As was I, and, well… as we did. 😉
Flying along the sometimes tight gravel roads I try to keep up in the open sections as I ride one handed snapping photos. Nothing can slow a ride down like photography and so this is my compromise. It’s pretty safe as long as your use to riding cross the bars left handed throttle, staying in your track while framing your shot ahead or reverse framing your shot backwards through your side view mirror… “Don’t try this at home kids…” It can get hairy and was the reason I hit a giant pothole.
At last second spotting the deep crater I quickly slipped the camera back into the tank bag, gave it a quick half zip a moment before I grabbed the throttle cranking it at lightning speed to get the front wheel to lift even slightly. Coasting the front wheel over, the rear slams heavy into the edge giving me a good shaking at about 60kph. No harm done, I had thought, but I might just keep the camera stashed for a while.
Reaching the view point we were making great time and the ride was exhilarating. I snapped a few photos and noticed my first problem, “Hey, anyone notice anything looking like a phone on the road?”. Never once before letting me down, it must have launched straight out of the RAM mount somewhere between the almighty pothole and right here.
Quickly to volunteer, my Revit wearing compadre and I took our sides of the trail to search and slowly made our way back together. 20 minutes would pass reaching the hole and beyond. No luck. Returning to the once small sinkhole we found our leader Mr. Chong filling the hole and with a big smile holding a phone in his hand… Pretty sweet moment, forgot to snap a photo of that one.
About 45 minutes had passed and I was still the happy owner of a now even more cracked but functioning Iphone. Hop on the bike with a smile when I hear frantic beeping from the dash… some form of a four letter word exits my mouth. My Cyclops TPMS recognized a drop in tire pressures and my rear was on its way down. Flashing and beeping… the pressures were too low to ride so I grab the pump and filled’er up. Slow as hell, but does the job, the pump runs and another 10 minutes pass before I reach the 42 psi.
Hoping it just remains a slow leak, we make our way off the trail and I assume I can get by filling up occasionally and avoid a tube change. With no apparent puncture it seemed like a tube pinch from the mighty hole strike, regardless, it was going down far too fast to continue the day on it. Decision making time and I guessed a tube change would take about 45 minutes… 45 minutes? I later realized that seemed way too long, or was it? Do I really know? The last trail side repair I pinched the first tube with the bars and it took forever. Either way I wasn’t ready to trash the boys ambitious ride route and have them spend even more time helping me with my problems, so I told them to please just go on. A little bummed but fine with the nice winding route home.
I can tend to feel bad to hold up a group, and I think most of us do. Being the photo guy who can also be a little hard on my bike, I’ve been there more than just a few times. Crap always goes wrong for one of us and the attitudes of the people you choose to ride with is what really makes the day good, or not. It doesn’t often matter if you get to your destination, but more that you handled the challenges well and had a good time doing it. Problems along the way often become the adventure you were looking for and memories get stuck on how that played out. So never forget to support your buddies, you could be next. Impatiently pressuring them through it sucks, and you would hate that too. So at least attempt a smile on every messy step along the way, because really… who wants everything to go according to plan…? Sound boring to me.