Jones-Bass annual Winter ridePosted: January 23, 2011
After last week’s blog posting, I asked my facebook friends if anyone was up for a Sunday ride. My little brother John, and my first racing rival (and dear friend) Walter Bass accepted the invitation.
The weather report was dismal; up to 3 inches of new fallen snow, on top of several inches from earlier in the week. Highs in the low twenties. I did not blink. Nor did my riding partners. Neither John nor Walter called with the inevitable “Have you seen the forecast” call that I always get before a planned ride. The day before, and the morning, of, both were gung-ho on the phone, perhaps waiting to see if I would wuss out for them. Ha ha! No dice! They were playing bad weather chicken with a mad man. It was on.
I picked up John and Walter in the city with a light snow just beginning to fall. We stocked up at Quick Trip with breakfast sandwiches and bargain basement energy drinks. We hit the freeway, headed South, just as the snow really got going.
When we arrived, the bikes, trailer, and tiedowns were coated in frozen road grime. We chipped it all off and tried to start the bikes. Not a one of them would fire. We were prepared. We jumped them all from my car, and soon we had a chorus of uncorked playbikes, running at high idle in the State Park loading area.
Once we were all suited up, we hit the lead tailings – in the case of my brother and I, we quite literally hit them. I made it about 100 yards before I spun out on the hidden frozen river that bisected the sandy vestibule of the riding area. I was on the ground so fast it was amazing. I heard my brother laugh, and when I looked around, he was on the deck too, sliding and tumbling, his bike spinning on the ice. Apparently, he saw me fall, and he took his hand off the bar to point at me while he laughed, and karma bit him almost instantaneously. We both struggled to right our bikes, finding no decent footing on the ice.
Everything just got better from there. Mostly. We rode and rode, climbing and descending the rocky trails, burning donuts in the snow covered sand, and basically fooling around. It was great. I somehow dislodged my chain from my rear sprocket at one point on a steep rocky hill climb, but fixed it quickly. John spun himself dizzy on the sand flats, and then found the toughest hill of the day – attacked it, and failed repeatedly, eventually draining his already suspect battery while trying to start his flooded bike. We rallied around the stricken bike and got it started again with some elevation and a long, drawn out bump start.
After that, we cruised the major trails at St. Joe, and found that they got slicker and slicker as we went North. John was feeling in his element. I struggled, and did some very ungraceful riding. Finally, on the long way back to the loading area, deep in the woods, John’s throttle cable snapped. Walter had the pragmatic solution – he turned John’s idle up to around 4,000 rpm and instructed him to ride it with just the clutch. John did, hopping off on steep hills to run along side his bike to keep it from stalling.
We finished the day at John’s place, reviewing the pictures and laughing. His wonderful wife, Gina made us hot ham and cheese melts and Irish coffee. It was a very good day.