BIGFAT Saga (Con’t)


Woke up before 4 for the final day and couldn’t fall back asleep, felt like crap, finally drank a bunch of coffee and felt fine. That is until I checked the weather. This days ride was a 20 mile, 2k or so feet ascent of Cache Mountain and then a screaming singletrack descent. Cache Mountain is just over Santiam Pass next to Suttle Lake. The report over there was Heavy Rain. Listened to my favorite old blues guy, Lightning Hopkins on the drive there. In one song he sings, Lord have mercy, that stuck in my mind the whole day. I knew there would be no mercy though, the ethic of the BigFat is to go beyond the pale and today’s ride instead of being a little endcap to the weekend would put an exclamation mark on the epic. Nothing was going to stop me from getting that t-shirt(if you finish all three days of the Epic ride you get a t-shirt that says, I finished the EPIC), I was motivated. Had a running joke with a couple of the other riders all day. In the face of the adversity, we’d say, bemused with the absurdity, Gotta get that t-shirt!

Got there in the heavy rain and it was cold too. Good thing I just bought that rain jacket. We huddled under a canopy and ate some doughnuts from the Sisters Bakery, then abruptly someone said let’s go, and all were off. I didn’t have my helmet on-it was in my car and fumbled trying to stuff a water bottle under my four layers. The pack was well up the road by the time I got going. I was riding strong though and with the weather to contend with didn’t even think of any of the pain inflicted from the previous days riding. I picked up riders the whole way up and got a bit of ego retribution after being humbled by the talent and strength of the riders in this crew. I caught on to some guys wheel and got a nice pull. Didn’t get sprayed because he put fenders on! I’m sure he was the only one to do that. My hands and feet were swimming, it went from rain to a mix, to snow and finally rode in an inch of snow. Glasses fogged, so I carried them in my teeth-should’ve brought the ski goggles. Reached the top and took a look at the steep singletrack. Now for the hard part of the ride! Unlike most riders who are on disc brakes, I ride rim brakes. They don’t work well when its wet and even worse they grind down like a candle to a welders torch. I was concerned that I would run out of brakes. The descent started soft, super steep and muddy. My brakes were fully engaged, but I stayed within a controllable speed. Within about a half a mile my levers crept all the way into my grips, I stopped and turned the adjusters on my levers all the way out. Soon the trail leveled out, and it seemed as if, Lord have mercy, I’d make it with some brake left. But now I was getting seriously cold. I was wet, my hands were aching, and the trail wouldn’t turn up to warm me. Then the trail crossed a road and Lord have mercy; a support van was parked there. I wrung out my gloves and dried them on Van’s heater. Sat up front, got warm and ate some food. Took off, it even stopped raining, I thought I was home free. Not exactly…after a few miles of some easy to take moderate downhill the final leg I found out was going to be a steep climb out of a river canyon on a torn up soft and muddy trail. I was still feeling strong and was ready to ride out of hell if I had to-Gotta get that t-shirt! But all the mud clogged up my front derailleur, and I couldn’t get it in the small chainring. Couldn’t even clean it with a stick. I couldn’t get a rhythm going; it was too steep. I’d hop on and off, walking it up the steeper parts. Making the matter worse is that I ride the long obsolete 747 pedals. 747’s have largely been abandoned because of their inability to shed mud. So it was frustrating and slow going, but I finally got there and got that frigging t-shirt, and there were only 15 people who did!