My front tire rolled onto the rock pile and my eyes darted across the perils. I gripped the span of the handlebar like the horns of a bull as the trail fought to throw the front end from side to side. A couple of times I almost stopped but throttled on to an adjusted line. If there was a good side to that, I went uphill, and it wasn’t raining. The clutch and pains of arthritis compromised my left grip, while erratic twists on the throttle drove a rumble off the rock wall. Even in the chaos of the moment, that wild opera in bass reminded me of the chug of an old John Deere tractor, a beat burned in at youth. But unlike the John Deere, I pushed down with one foot or the other to keep the bike upright. I cringed and cussed as it banged on a boulder, and the high center of my luggage weight added to the fight. In the upper part of my vision, the mountains taunted me as I wrestled for every bike length of trail.

Finally, an end to that quarter mile of torture neared, yards passed one by one, and when my tires reached asphalt, I grabbed another gear and shot to safety, then stopped to check out the bike. The bottom had taken a beating, but without damage. I looked back on that wicked patch with choice comments for the VNDOT, and then turned to the mountain. Asphalt ascended into a ravine, and from hairpin turns, it climbed into the clouds. I raised a fist and shouted, “You big fucking rock — that was easy. If you’re gonna stop us you better have more than that.” I turned a flurry back to the patch, then shouted at the mountain again, “Me and the Fat Boy are comin thru.”

I felt better after that.


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