are BAACK! Big time.
I was recently out in the woods with one of the infamous biking Bubbas, Craig, this week and part of me now looks like a human pincushion.
We actually headed for higher ground, choosing a ride up the trails to the top of Mount Pleasant. Record rains from a week ago and the residual water from this year’s almost record snow pack have left the woods exceedingly wet for this time of year, with standing water in abundance throughout the forest. Small streams and creeks are full. Water is running everywhere.
As a precaution, I wore my Rocky waterproof socks over my regular socks. I’d never use them hiking, but they work well in conditions when I am biking through streams or walking my bike through mud pits.
Lately, I have been ramping up my exercise program in preparation for at least a week of backpacking later this month, in Virginia and Maine. I have left the gym and have shifted to taking walks in the Camden Hills State Park and my own Uncle Tom trail here up to the top of Moody Mountain . A couple of days ago, I even fit both biking and hiking into one day, doing a 75 minute biking loop on some big hills circling Moody Mountain, then later talking a walk up to the top of Bald Rock Mountain, about a 3.5 mile round trip.
Biking is hard around here. Steep stuff no matter where you go , and although I was regularly taking a Spinning class at the YMCA, once you start grinding through the mud, over the uneven rocks, and fight to keep your balance on a real trail, it is tough! So sweat, humidity, and a 6 PM start up Mt. Pleasant combined to be perfect conditions for black fly attacks.
Craig dosed himself with some sort of insect repellent before we left , but I declined. Truth is, I haven’t had to spray myself with any repellent for at least three years now. Ever since I have traveled in the wilds of Labrador, and have encountered the mother of all black fly and mosquito clouds, the insects around here don’t seem so bad. Except for today.
I literally could not stop and rest for more than 10 seconds before a thick cloud of black flies attacked me. They bit me on my bare legs, they got in my hair, they liked the eyeballs. I swallowed at least one of them a half dozen times on the ride, coughing ‘em up when I could.
Nevertheless, we had a great time out there. It was Craig’s maiden voyage out on the rocky trails this year. Mine too. He has been sidelined for over a year due to a mountain bike crash in November 2007 that resulted in a Type 3 shoulder separation. He required serious surgery to reattach several tendons back to the bone. I was on that ride with him too, when I first passed him as he sat stunned on the side of a really rocky descent where he was thrown off his bike and his shoulder hit an immovable object on the ground.
After a bit of looking around this evening , we found the exact spot where he hit, and agreed that we would start the ritual of pissing on the big gnarly knob of a root that projected sideways from the edge of the trail.
“Here’s to ya, root!” It’s pretty crazy stuff that we do out here in the woods.
Just after we were back rolling down through the rocks, Craig came right up to a rocky ledge that extended across the washed out road. It had a clear two foot drop-off below it before we would launch off through wet, leaf covered, lumpy bowling balls again. Craig was setting up to shoot off it.
“ Craig, don’t do it! I will be shot by Angela if you happen to rack yourself up again! We are almost done, and all kinds of bad stuff usually happens to us at the end of a ride, or the end of the day when we are tired.”
We agreed that we were still rusty, that we were still dialing in suspension settings, and settling in our new brake pads. Craig agreed to take the side loop into the woods to bypass this section, this time.
That’s the thing about being a biking Bubba. We are in it for the long haul. The idea is to have a good time, fall off into the mud sometimes, walk through black pools of unfathomable water and slime, and come back to do it again, three times a week. Year after year, season after season, day or night, doesn’t matter. We even have headlights.
We’ll be back to visit with Mr. Root Knob.
Even with these black flies.