Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fox Turds, Melting In Drag, Bear Feet And Exploding Anii...

I managed to find our "adventure trails" on the google earth map (funny, they look flat from way up here). What these are are service roads for the Bureau Of Land Management, which is a fancy way of saying "logging roads" controlled by the federal government.

One can tell by looking at these pictures that these areas have been harvested many times before. There are sections full of very young trees and other sections with teen aged trees and so on and so forth...

Which doesn't diminish the fact that they are "out there" a little ways, full of wild-land creatures and steep inclines.

And I should know, because it was in these here wilds, yesterday, that I had one hell of an afternoon...

My weight loss regimen is going too slowly for my taste. I AM melting, just not as fast as I'd like to be. From 287 down to 263- that's not a bad start, but it certainly isn't a great finish, so off I go, putting in hours on a bike or in my running shoes... chugging along...

The other day I was carrying two 1 gallon 1% milk jugs out of our local store. I had them in one hand and groceries in plastic bags in the other. By the time I was at the truck, I was thinking about how much they weighed and figured on about 8 1/2 pounds apiece, making the two of them weigh about 17 pounds. That's not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but if you strap two gallons of milk around your waste and attempt to go jogging, you might not have a good time of it. All that sloshing around and the extra weight on your knees and ankles...

Lordy! It's hard tucker I tell ya! Hard tucker!

"This is about how much weight I've lost" I thought while I tossed them into the back of the truck. "Now just two more milk jugs to go."

I wondered how many women who tried to lose weight thought in terms of losing one's milk jugs? Not many, I supposed. But there you had it, me carrying around four milk jugs (low fat, mind you) of weight while trying to start up an exercise program to delete those milk jugs before they became permanently tied around my middle...

The progress so far...

Thankfully, I can get my friend Bruce to join me for part of some of my rides. He lives a couple of miles away from here near the entrance to these fire roads, so I head on up to his house and pick him up, and then together we go a-climbing up these roads with our heads down and our gears in the lowest ones we got...

We tell ourselves it's good for us.

Up until yesterday...

You see, normally, I would lead and Bruce would struggle to keep up. When he'd run out of tolerance for a pounding heart , he'd stop and ask me to stop and I'd patiently stop and let him rest until he was ready to go and off we'd go again, back up the hill...

Did I tell you my brake shoes are worn down to the nubs? Well they are. Riding up all those hills means I eventually need to come down them. My chubby butt pointed down a steep grade requires quite a bit of rubber to slow down, apparently. I've worn my pads down way faster than expected, and I had to stop before setting off and tighten the cables on them so I'd have some brake for the day. There is nothing worse than squeezing your brake handles all the way to the handlebars only to find that you haven't yet activated the calipers against the rims (I suppose one could argue the OUTCOME of not having activated brakes might be worse)...

Oh, and I am supposed to tell you that we postponed our ride by a few hours, because we had thunderstorms moving through the area, and they were dropping huge amounts of water in a hurry in sporadic spots as they passed through. I watched the radar on weather underground sporadically myself, and, when I determined that the last of the shower activity was heading off to the east, I called Bruce and told him I was setting off...

Well, except for that one cloud...

I got to Bruce' drenched by one silly thundercloud that seemed to back up and squirt me, just for spite. Then I adjusted my brakes by tightening the cables so I wouldn't crash going down his very steep and curvy driveway. Then we set off and as we got to the fire roads, I was convinced that I wasn't feeling "up to par" and that the softness of the ground (the rains had lifted much of the fines in the road and made them silty) was going to be harder on me than Bruce because I outweighed him by a hundred pounds.

"Your turn to choose," he told me.

"Road one, the first left road off of it, and then I want to follow the ridge further than we went last time."

I expected Bruce to have "that look" on his face, the one dogs get when you tell them to go lie down in another place from where you are, the one kids get when you tell them they have to eat their peas and carrots...

But Bruce seemed unduly chipper about taking the road that had worn him out so bad only a few weeks before. I guess all the riding with me had gotten him in better shape,, and he was feeling it today!

He even set off first, and I was quite happy to tuck in behind him and follow him up until he crapped out and had to walk.

Trouble was, he wasn't crapping out this time. I told him one day to slow down his cadence a little and find a rhythm that he could maintain and he did. He just kept going up and up. The road was washed out and full of sand, which was soft from the recent deluge that must have passed through. It felt like I was riding in two inches of quick sand, everything felt sluggish and I'll be damned if I didn't start to tire while Bruce just kept his rhythm going, up and up and around the next hair pin and up and up some more.

I started to think I'd created a monster. How could he possibly be pulling away from me? I was in better shape! I was the one who pushed him forward and upward every time we rode. I was the one who rode around the block or the lake before I grabbed him, so that I would be tired already before we rode, so that he would have less trouble keeping up. It was I! Me! I was the one...

...who was falling behind.

My heart started pounding inside my chest (my heart doesn't pound!) I was having trouble keeping my breath (I never have trouble with being out of breath!) My thighs were burning and cramping and were out of oxygen (but Bruce! Bruce was getting away! I wasn't keeping up with Bruce!)

My head was getting light. My thinking was fading in and out. I fell over a few times and had to walk up some steep sections before it got flat enough for me to commence peddling...

Bruce wasn't even looking over his shoulder for me and worst of all, HE WASN'T STOPPING TO REST!!

"There! Right there! That's where you stopped last time! We had water! We talked about fungi! WHY AREN'T YOU STOPPING RIGHT THERE?"

Bruce just kept going, his damn rhythm irritating me now. My competitive nature kicked in and I tried to catch up to him. I up shifted into second on the flatter parts, hoping to gain a few extra feet. I tried to speed up my cadence. I pushed and pushed, and Bruce just kept going up and up...

"If this kept up" I thought, "I was going to explode."

Bruce got his front wheel caught in a rut on a very steep section. He stopped and put his foot down.


I kept peddling, far behind now and not wanting to show my defeat in obvious terms. When I got up to Bruce, he was taking off his windbreaker and tying it around his waste.

"I felt pretty good today," he said casually.

"YOU BASTARD!" I thought to myself.

"Man, you did good today. What did ya eat?"

"I just kept my pace slow enough not to burn out. I found that I could rest between down strokes and that helped a lot."

Rest between down strokes?

Did Bruce derive some secret peddling technique that gave him extra powers?

"Dude, I couldn't keep up. You've worn me out. I was thinking about how I was going to get away with killing you if you didn't stop and let me rest."

"It's a good thing I stopped to take off my jacket then."

Bruce wandered off the road to take a pee. I did my best to catch up with myself, telling my heart to slow down, quietening my breathing by willing it so. The whole way up, something felt a bit "soft" about my front wheel, so I lifted the handlebars up after pushing the wheel forward to watch how it spun.

It didn't.

My front wheel DID NOT SPIN!

It just sat there, unspinning. I tried to get it rolling by pushing it on the ground again and lifting it in the air.


"Hey Bruce. Spin my front wheel for me."

Bruce put his wiener away and came over and spun my front wheel. It didn't spin. It just turned when he turned it and stopped when he let go. Something was dragging on my front wheel.

One of the brake pads!

I'd been climbing that goddamn hill with my brake pad rubbing against my rim! All that way! falling behind! Nearly dying!

I felt resurrected. A tiny bit of machismo-glow left Bruce's face. Our bike riding equilibrium had been reestablished. There had been a rogue element in the equation!

We tinkered with the brake (we carry little cute bicycle tools) and determined that the worn out brake pad was causing the left shoe of the calipers to rub because the whole system was over-adjusted. Without new brake shoes, there was nothing I could do except disconnect the front brake altogether, which I promptly did.

When we set off again, I was a much happier camper, though my legs were already trashed and not too enthusiastic about continuing.

But Bruce was "feeling good" so I soldiered on.

Fox like to poop on the top of large rocks that fall into the road.

That's true, an one day I'll take my camera up there and do a photo essay on fox poop on top of rocks.

"What goes through a fox's mind when they do that?" I pondered. Truly. They see a big rock in the middle of a bunch of small road rocks and they think "I've got to poop on top of that!"

With a little swirly curlicue finish too, like at the ice cream parlour.

I was now happy contemplating this instead of dying and happy to be climbing uphill right behind Bruce who had no means to pull away from me THIS TIME! We even chatted about the fox poop as we climbed.

"I had a neighbor dog once," I explained, "who would come by and poop on my front stoop every morning after I chased him off one day. Didn't matter if he had to poop or not, he would back his tiny little ass up next to the door and squeeze out a tiny nugget just to spite me."

"Weird." was what Bruce said.

"Weird like fox's pooping on rocks."

I was almost dry in the pants from when I got rained on, but wet from sweat on my shirt. The day was getting late and the wind was picking up. It wasn't cold, but the wind was chilling when it crossed through a wet t-shirt and hit your skin. We got to where the fire road narrowed and darkened.The rains had made the bushes bend over and make a tunnel over the road. You had to just bull your way through, collecting rain water off the leaves and branches as you pushed through the overhangs with your head. My pants were now wet, and a large puddle approached. Bruce was heading through first (I always go first so this was a pleasant switch). He went to the far left and his feet went underwater while he peddled so he called out "left side's deep!"

I went to the right where, apparently, some four wheeling bastard had gotten stuck and left a HOLE!

My front wheel completely disappear underwater and I came to an abrupt stop. I had to really brace myself against my handlebars to get me to stop too, as I didn't want to go over the handlebars and land on my back in twelve inches of muddy water. All of this bracing and momentum collided and wrenched my back pretty good. All the muscles in my back spasmed to protect the spine (which was good) and I managed to somehow throw a leg out to the side of the puddle and catch myself on dry ground before I fell over sideways myself.


I was wearing my new shoes too.

I managed to use the bike as a leaner tool and walk along the right bank next to the bushes and tree roots and trucks. The puddle was about forty feet long, and in that forty feet my back was killing me, my one sock was full of muddy water, my front brake was disconnected, and my legs were spent from climbing up those hills with the brake shoe rubbing.

It was getting time to consider calling it a day.

Bruce was "feeling good" and hoping to get up to the ridge where we could see (possibly) for miles and miles and miles...

"You ready?" he asked.

"I guess."

We started off again, and the road closed over us again, with the heavy bush-boughs making a dark tunnel.

"Bear tracks." Bruce said as he stopped.

"Bear tracks... Of course. How could the day not be over?" I thought to myself.

"Fresh. These are from after the rain."

"Of course. Fresh bear tracks. My wrenched back...

My soggy clothes... My spent legs... My broken front brake..."

"It's a good thing you're here," Bruce said. "Or I'd be skeered..."

So we got to the ridge and the road took a downward slant. Normally, I would have welcomed this, but I was on the look-out for bears and my head was light from being tired and I was shivering from being wet and having the wind blow through my clothes...

I forgot about my brake being disconnected momentarily, which was just enough of a moment to get going too fast on a muddy road.


I had to choose between a poison oak bush and some very wet Scotch Broom...

And then I reconnected the brake, turned around, and headed home.


Jeannie said...

I've had brakes do that on me a very long time ago but the rest- no. I did get chased for a couple miles by a crazy farm dog on a bike that skipped about every 3rd peddle.

Bet you're glad to be alive today though.

dogbait said...

Good story! You're doing well with the weight even if you are sucking it in with the photo. :)

JamieSmitten said...

Who takes the gut pictures? Mom or Bruce?

Cheesy said...

Quitter.. hehehehe

meno said...

You've lost almost 25 pounds? Way to go dude!

Will you ever get on a bike again?

Anne said...

I love bike stories, and that was a good one!

citizen of the world said...

Bags of sugar or flour work, too -having people hold however many 5-pound bags of sugar they want to lose.

Shrinky said...

Sheesh, you'll soon be wasting away! And I knew there was good reason for me never to learn how to use a bike.. still, glad you've lived to peddle another day - smile.