For my 40th birthday, my wife surprised me by plotting behind my back! She secretly organized a bike-napping where I would be forced against my will (yeah, right) to ride 40 miles at the Fork Area Trail System (FATS) in North Augusta.
The weather forecast was a little sketchy considering a slight chance of rain, but I seem to have a fascination with riding in the light rain, so I was still stoked.
I knew that I was back in my home state of South Carolina when I saw this “beware hunting” sign on the trail kiosk.
The bike bandits that organized the kidnapping was Steve and Greg (Cape Fear SORBA president). They ride FATS several times a year so it was great having veterans lead the way. I never had to worry about looking at signage, but instead I was able to just kept my eye on the leader of the pack and focus on enjoying the roller coaster ride.
The guys told me the placards on benches scattered on the trails were dedicated to a rider who actually died while riding the trails. I wasn’t sure if this was true or not, but at mile 33 I had to lay down on a bench as I started feeling queezy.
The goal was 40 miles for 40 years of living, but at mile 30 I started contemplating why I wasn’t attempting this ride at age 30. Until this ride, my record distance was 36 miles so I knew I was entering uncharted territory.
Most likely due to dehydration, I starting bonking at mile 39. Not only was I was out of water and an inner drive to continue riding, I was trying to call it a quits in a big way. Greg and Steve would have no part in seeing me stop 1 mile short of my goal so they fought hard to pick me up mentally and physically.
I remember that last mile very vivid as I was coming up with every excuse not to continue riding or just simply get the guys to slow down. I remember throwing my chain and telling them I had not tool to fix it. In reality, I knew it wouldn’t take a tool, but I thought I could stall them for a while. In addition, I took advantage of a snake that was laying across the trail’s path and asked them to stop with me and do some snake-gazing.
Moving time was 4:30 mins.
FINALLY, as we crept slowing forward, I saw Steve (the only one with the bike computer) throw his index finger to the ground and mark an imaginary spot on the trail and yelled “40 miles!”
As soon as I cross that line, I dropped over (still clipped in) and just laid there with my face up in the air looking at the tree canopy. As I pulled myself out from under my bike, I propped by elbows on my knees and looked out on the beautiful view of the rolling green vegetation.
Then, all of a sudden, it was like a weight of emotion dropped on me! Immediately, as I realized I was at the 40 miles mark, I experienced this mental flash of my 40 years flash before my mind. It was like a 40-card Rolodex flipping through my mind.
And yes, as this all culminated I starting weeping like a 40 year toddler riding his bike for the first time with no training wheels!
My guess is that I was broken down in every way at this point and just overwhelmed that the Lord had allowed me to experience life for 40 years. Maybe I was having a Job moment and felt the weight of his words in Job 12:10,
“In whose hand is the life of every living thing,And the breath of all mankind?”
Ironically, Greg and Steve continued to ride up the trail and missed I had stalled at mile 40. Nonetheless, once they had figured out I was not behind them they returned to catch a glimpse of a 40 year old trying to gain his composure.
After gaining my composure, they were kind enough to let me ride out on the last .2 miles to the parking lot!
I wish I could say that the story ends there, but honestly, all I remember after this point was asking if I could lay down in the back seat of the van for a moment and I am guessing I faded away to recovery dream land!
I awoke after an hour and realized that my kidnappers had loaded all the gear and took the initiative to start driving us home. The 1 hr power nap did wonders and I was feeling much better and ready to eat a whopping burger at Fuddruckers in Columbia.
All in all, I guess you can say that I had a ride of a lifetime and will not forget the fun for a long time.
Actually, you know it is a sign of a good trail build when you look back over 40 miles of single-track and hardly remember one climb in the entire ride. I have decided to coin the phrase “trail-amnesia.” If you can build a trail with so many fast rolls that you cannot remember the climbs (trail-amnesia), you have certainly succeeded in building epic trails!
I was attempting to convince my wife I was okay after bonking, but as you can see I failed miserably!