The morning started off the way many Saturday mornings have started — my sidekick Lucy and I check in to see how the rest of our day can fit around one of our outings.
When I read Lucy’s text, “Can’t hurt to try it,” I had a moment of self preservation when I thought about how that plucky attitude had led the two of us into temptation and staying in drug-resistant tuberculosis halfway houses, and landing upside down in stinging nettle patches, and hanging on the sides of cliffs hoping not to die, and trying snowbikes for the first time in 0 degree weather in the dark, in street clothes, with a belly full of scotch ale and chili.
But I’m still game, I quickly responded, temporarily putting out of my mind the wake of destruction the two of us have left behind us over the past 15 years. The ride down Fulton Street was brisk, as usual. The ride out the Lemhi was brilliant and green and pastoral. The new mountain bike the Iron Chef gave me for my birthday last weekend rode like a dream. And then we left the pavement, destined for Discovery Hill, just like Lewis and Clark. The trouble is, last night’s rain left our overland route in less than ideal condition. My new bike with its monstrous tires led the way through the way along the bentonite-rich two-track. Bentonite is Greek for “slimy, greasy, shit” and soon the substance had my monstrous tires and each one of my special new bike components completely encased. I tipped over into a medium sized mud puddle. As is our custom, Lucy skipped the part where you ask the other person if she is OK and instead focused on not wetting herself. “I’m OK,” I reported bravely.
Fortunately, we were only able to go about 300 yards, or meters, if you call them that, before the inglorious defeat. We determined to retreat, but by that time the bentonite was legion on our bicycles, making pedaling impossible. I drug my brand new bike through the mud with its back tire seized up like a dog on a leash that very much does not want to go where you want to go. Like to the pound, for instance.
In Podunk, we have a special soil additive called bentonite. Bentonite means greasy, slimy, shit in Greek.
When we got back to pavement, we had several problems. Lucy had ridden her mud-caked bike through loose gravel, for instance.
Crushed gravel topping for Lucy’s mud tires.
This turned out to be bad when Lucy started riding again and sharp pieces of rock flung off her tire and into her face. Smack, ow, smack, ow, smack, mother effing ow.
My brand new bike had the problem of still being seized up with greasy mud, and there was a loose bull on the road that we had to pass. I realize these are podunk issues, not urban issues, but there they are.
So I worked to de-gunk my bike in the creek so I could actually pedal past the bull. This strategy worked. Sadly, my fingers froze into popsicles on the way home so I could not shift properly and more swearing ensued.
Lucy and I arrived at my house, poured ourselves a wee dram of scotch and sat in the hot tub, congratulating ourselves on another day rightly lived.