So yeah I have these really badass friends. Like with real skills and stuff. And once in a while they take pity on me and try and help me suck less. I love them all for that I really do. So the other day when I got a text from Ultranedurodyude himself wanting to go mtn biking I was pretty stoked. And then he texted me back and said he was working on a bunch of how to videos for his website. And then the stoke began to turn to fear. And then he texted me back and said lets ride NTF cause its harder. Harder? That is an understatement. In UED own word's it is "Nature's own hatchet factory" There are rocks and then there are axe heads. NTF is all axe head. I have never seen so many sharp rocks in my life. The forest just looks angry. But even though Thom may look and sound like a menacing Townie he really is just playing a role for his weblog. At least I think he is playing a role. What if the role becomes reality? In the woods. Like when I am looking over the edge of some chasm of death and he gets pissed and beats me with a stick? Never mind. The key to riding this stuff is putting the bad thoughts in a little box. And then locking it. And losing the key in a dark, dark place in your psyche.
UED was a little late for our session as the kids like to call it as he was delivering eggs to Dave Chiu. Not even joking. While I was waiting for Thom I did a few laps in NTF. This was not good for my overall mindset. I mean it seemed worse than I imagined. LPR and The Fells are hard but this place just seems like it wants to maim you. When you consider who built the trails it starts to actually make sense. The tough build tough trails. End of story. So yeah I am freaking out why lie. But then Thom being Thom and he puts on the full on Broons kit and I started freaking out less. Then he busts out a Mo Bruno Roy quote as we head into the woods and I just can't hold back laughing. In his best Mo voice " oh they changed the course and made it hahder, there is no crying in cyclocross. If you are gonna cry just get in the cahhr and go home." I am glad I didn't get in my car and head home cause the 3 hrs I spent in the woods with Thom I learnt more about riding on the east coast than the last 7 years combined.
So we get to the first tricky bit. Its a 2 foot rock ledge. Thom makes this shit look so easy. I roll up to and stop. No way. He turns his GoPro off and comes back. He is actually very cool. He could have been all "Dyude, what is your problem its no bigger than a f'n curb. Take your man panties off and drop off that shit..." But no. He actually broke it down. Step by step. He rolled it a few times. Mentioned riding it like a gorilla and getting way off the saddle. Then he said think of it as a couple of steps and don't look at all that other stuff. Yeah I do have a problem with the "other stuff" I can picture it ripping holes through my soft fleshy parts. Oh see there I go again. So I let all that go. Back up get some speed and ride it. Nice. Then we find a log. Have I mentioned I don't ride logs? Probably not. He hops his 29er ss like ten feet over it. Then he asks me to do it. Nah man. No way. Come on he says its like 2 curbs. His turning every death dealer on the trail into traffic furniture is actually sheer brilliance. That and he knows he is dealing with a roadie clearly. So ok he takes a few passes at it and gets me to try it. I get the front wheel over ok and keep casing the rear wheel. After about ten times I finally clear the log. It ain't pretty but my collarbone is intact and I think it may be a repeatable skill.
I swear when he was telling me how to hop the log I could not stop thinking about a video from way back at Downeast of JPow giving a tutorial in barrier hoping. Thom may have even been the one who made that video. It is a classic. We ride all over NTF. We bump into Martini Junction. Holy crap. Its like walking into a Fairy House or something. It is a full on train set in the middle of Needham Town Forest. It is incredible. We check it out for a while and then head back out. We ride some really cool stuff. I learn the term "ratcheting" and again with the ride like a gorilla. Its starting to sink in a bit. But the trails are so bananas that its hard to tie it all together. A huge part of it is clearly mental and another big part is the commitment to the move. Seeing him ride up, or lunge up would be a better term for it, boulders is wild. I try it a few times but am pathetic.
So long story short Thom may have saved me from utterly embarrassing the NECX as I attempt a campaign racing mtn bikes this summer. I have a NORBA license or should I say a USUCK mtn bike license. It says I am a cat 2...hahaha. Yeah I am a cat 2 alright. Oh boy this should be fun. Hopbrook will be the first time racing mtn bikes in over a decade. I may also be racing on a sick Zank 29er ss at a few of these races. Well I will in fact be doing just that. That will be a topic for a whole other blog post. Have I mentioned that Thom rides a 29er ss? Um yeah he does in fact. I have a long way to go I will say that...Thanks Ultraendurodyude for an awesome time getting rad in the woods.