It’s the second full week of January and I’ve already attended my first mountain bike event of the year.
While the rest of the country is flummoxed by the polar vortex most of us here in Vermont are quietly acknowledging what we already know- it’s January, and January is fucking cold. Still, Vermonters and our neighbors to the north and south deal with these conditions with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but make no mistake- for a below zero January morning there were a ton of people outside and ready to ride.
In the week leading up the event my responsibilities shifted somewhat from racing, to racing and leading an intermediate ride, to racing and leading a beginner ride, then racing, leading a beginner/intermediate ride and building some wooden picture frames for the sweet frame-worthy limited edition prints that Ryan made for the event.
With highly questionable preparation for the event involving New Year’s and a single ride on the bike I was supposed to use I stuffed the car full of every possible article of warm clothing I could need plus the usual bike event trappings of water, ride food, snack food and well insulated dry clothing.
As I approached the parking lot the temperature was hovering around -6F in the sun. Damn. I quickly (or as quickly as I move at that hour and in those conditions) yanked the bike out of the trunk, threw on some clothes based on my best estimate for what I’d need to wear to stay warm-ish and headed over to lead the ride. Fortunately I was tasked with beginner ride leader which I would learn was leading a solo tour through the Stowe Rec Path before venturing up the hill and into the woods.
Emma, my ride companion, has raced extensively on the New England circuit and is the proud owner of her own Salsa fat bike. In spite of the fact that the bike probably tipped the scales at around 1/3 of her body weight she was in high spirits and undeterred by the weather. She did heed her mother’s instructions to wear two hats, albeit reluctantly. As we wound our way through the Cady Hill Forest we found the upper camp, or rather the setting where the food, fire and festivities would be based. The fire was yet to get started, and I left Emma in the…well, not sure it was watchful care as there was an axe being swung and attempts to ignite a blaze, but I left anyway.
After a botched attempt to get an aerobically-inclined friend out on a demo I returned the upper camp where the fire was ripping and kegs were tapped. I attempted to solicit feedback from friends and acquaintances about whether I should skip the formality of racing and hit the maple liquer straight on or stay the course of anaerobic suffering. I debated long enough for all of the liquer to be consumed, then the race was canceled anyway so I experienced an indecision-induced double fail. Still, I felt like I’d at least made some progress in applying a “pro” approach to the situation whereas I may have just hit the liquer right off and said fuck it, so there’s that.
With my decision made for me I changed into warm clothes and headed back up the hill on foot to rub elbows with the rest of the party people at the fire. And I wanted to get warm. At this point the party really got going for me, though for some it had gotten started long before.
A solid effort was made by Ryan and Jon from MTBVT with strong support from Ron at iRide and the boys at Old Spokes Home.
If I had Winter Bike flyers I might have run around the parking lot and sliding them under the windshield wipers on the parked cars, but fortunately for everyone that didn’t happen.