November 19th, 2015
A few years ago I read Death In The Canyon. The overarching takeaway was that, other than the jumpers, it was nearly always a confluence of bad luck, bad circumstances, and bad choices that got people killed.
2 hours and only 12 miles into a 46 miles ride, too much HABing and 50% of my gps gone, i knew exactly how stupid i’d been already.
- didn’t study the map
- didn’t put a pic on my phone
- didn’t have a hardcopy
- didn’t turn backlight timer on my gps from ‘Always On‘ to ‘15 sec.‘ This was particularly galling. As a frivolous unemployed man-of-leisure, i had my bag packed, gps loaded WITH THE TRACK SHADED, and bike tuned by Wednesday eve. *facepalm*
My cleverness at deconstruction on-the-fly and root-cause-analysis was not at all comforting. Risk aversion and respect for it should have turned me right back around and had me home in another 2 hrs completing the 29 mile short course. However, a SAHD with a hall pass rides as long and as far as he can. Getting lost would be saddle time the family couldn’t possibly hold against me, and James said the backside of the course was supercool. I still had 6 hours of daylight to go 32 miles, was making almost 6mph despite the completely unnecessary HAB, the backside was supercool, and I had a backup battery pack. Like a chessmaster I thought I had outplanned my dipshittery!
The back half of the loop was amazing! A gradual ~8 mile dirt road climb where high-elevation forests sleekly replaced miles of grassy hills. I saw a deer and told him to run away, .25 miles later i saw hunters and sent them in the wrong direction. Desert trees don’t Fall like trees in the Mid-Atlantic. The few reds and oranges that charged out of the deep corners in hillsides full of small-leafed greens shouted out about recent rain. The washes were ankle-high refreshers, splashing me just enough to embrace the season while not actually making me cold. The descent off the back loop was supercool as promised, with periodic trail placards detailing the history of Kentucky Camp every time I had to HAB.
Back at Kentucky Camp the GPS gave me a not-unexpected low-battery warning. Aaaand I found I did not have the right cable to plug into my battery. SHIT! I assumed, rather than confirmed, my usb cable was in the bag. Backup battery was now useless. This was particularly galling; i wash my bag and gloves and helmet regularly, as if the gods of dirtbaggery were angry at my cleanliness.
The risk seemed unreal, I was so stoked off the descent and feeling great with the scenery. don’t panic.
I knew I was the last rider out, it would get cold fast and I only had a small headlight and base layer. dont panic.
Ask for help? Sorry sir\ma’am but can i borrow your usb cable for a few? Head east for SR83 and an eventual road finish in the dark? don’t panic.
I had 3 hours of daylight and 15 miles to go, with some recollection of the ride out and maybe 20 min of gps battery to guide me. You’re a SAHD looking for a reason not to die. Bang it!
The banging was 3 hours of laborious creeping, stopping to fire the GPS and confirm what the tracks on the ground and directions of shadows suggested? I am slow, and weak, and soft. If I wasn’t i could be following someone, could have been following someone for the hours i went the wrong way on the inner loop. Every turn mattered, so I made every turn count. Peek at the gps and hope it would give me this peek and 2-3 more. My riding was ugly, beat, with no rhythm, or confidence to charge a climb. but I got back just at sunset.
Whew! and added this to my kit.
But still I have to say you play with matches you get burned…have you ever given a foot massage?…Antoine shoulda fucking better known better.