I went out to Santa Cruz Sunday. It didn’t suck. But I sure did. (More on that in a few minutes, or more, depending on how fast your read).
Part 1: I suck in my head
As I mentioned in one of my past posts, Santa Cruz is a very popular place to ride in my neck of the woods, which I guess is pretty obvious whether you’re familiar with nor-cal riding or not. I mean, there’re no bike companies named Stockton or Baltimore. But there is one called Santa Cruz. Marin too. I realize that the company Santa Cruz’s roots are in skate/surf, but I don’t think Rob Roskopp would have carried the brand name into mountain biking if there was absolutely nothing going on in the vicinity. It’s really wonderful out there, all redwooded and beautiful and shit. And the range of trail you can hit is as wide and varied as the income level and lifestyle of the population of Santa Cruz proper. You’ll ride by families one minute, and fully armored downhill warriors the next. Good stuff for everyone.
One of the most popular staging areas, and where I started today, is off highway 9 in Pogonip park. Pogonip is one of the many parks in the area (there’s Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, UCSC land and Wilder Ranch State Park, all stuck together in one beautiful family).
I parked in the dirt lot and started to unload my Blur LT (yeah, I rode my Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz today. Wish my last name Cruz. Or Santa. Although I guess Beach is a pretty good last name for Santa Cruz, though I don’t surf). Suddenly I got a familiar thought: I’m the least hardcore/cool guy here. I don’t always have this thought, but this particular day the parking lot was crawling by hard ridin’ Bras. And I noticed.
Am I the only one this happens to? It used to come from the fact that I rode a crap bike. But now, what the fuck? I have a sweet ride with a full XT build (I know there’s plenty of rich guys out there who briefly get into riding and will drop 4 or 5 grr on bike, but I sacrificed to get that ride because riding makes me wet). I’m very physically fit. Tall. I have a good job. A beautiful wife. A good life! And I’m a good rider, dammit! (Except this particular day. But I didn’t know that yet) As I’ve said in the past, I’m not a downhill animal, but I can bring it on the climbs and am proficient on the technical stuff, especially uphill stuff. But no matter what, I sometimes feel a silly twinge that I’m less cool than the kid unloading his freeride whip.
If my bike is better than someone’s it’s because I’m a poser. If it’s not as good, it’s because I’m not as into it. I’m sure everyone else has a bigger dick. And way cooler friends. And better blogs! And look at their cool hair! I bet they all play in bands too! And when they’re not easily riding over the most challenging trails I bet they’re riding over a mountain of hot pussy! Oh my god I totally suck!!!
Now, before you start saying, “Dude, get a grip,” and slap me a few times, obviously I’m exaggerating for effect. It’s not as overwhelming as all that, or anything close to it. And I’m rational and secure enough to quickly shake the feeling of inferiority. It’s more interesting to me in an intellectual, self-awareness sort of way, because, you know, I’m a self-aware intellectual. I know in reality A) I can totally hang out on the trails and, especially, B) who gives a fuck. I know that they’re all just nice dudes, out there for the same reason I am: because mountain biking rocks hard, smashes guitars and kicks over speakers.
In a way, I guess it makes total sense. As humans we’re naturally insecure, no matter how much of a baller we are. It seems like every highly successful super star athlete and entertainer eventually comes out with their autobiography and reveal how insecure he/she is, even at the height of their success, physical hotness, scoring ability or whatever else made them famous. We all feel less than great about ourselves from time to time.
But still, maybe I should get single speed XX cranks, lose the clipless and get alloy platforms. Yeah, then I’ll be cool.
Part 2: Oh shit, I actually do suck.
Now onto my physical lameness. My daughter, who unfortunately is only around every other weekend due to me no longer being married to her mom, spent the previous weekend with me. Much of that weekend was spent helping her clean her snotty, head cold-fueled, nasty ass runny nose, and reminding her to cover her mouth when she coughed. I didn’t fully get her cold, but apparently I got enough.
I discovered my less-than-healthy lungs during my regular Wednesday night ride while I was gasping and struggling up hills that normally bow at my feet. That trend continued in Santa Cruz.
Even worse, the crew of riders, about 7 strong, that was most responsible for my previously discussed insecurity launched about five minutes before me. I caught up to them a few miles up the trail as they were doing a re-group. We exchanged pleasantries and such (I noticed that all of them were riding with RockShox Reverb drop posts, which I happen to be in the market for. I asked about sizing and it turns out a few of them actually work at RockShox, which was awesome because I got a detailed answer).
When it was time to roll, they invited me to jump into the crew. I knew I was sucking wind from the previous climb, but the stretch of trail we were about to take on had no real steepness to speak of. Apparently my illness didn’t really give a shit about the lack of grade.
About a half mile in, I felt it: nausea. Now, I haven’t puked on a ride in a long long time, and here I was, fighting off a bout of reversed eating on a trail that under normal circumstance barely gets me (or any regular rider, for that matter) breathing hard. But I was hurtin’. And even worse, The Yaking Show, starring the pussy Andy Beach, was going to have an audience. Eventually, I could no longer contain neither the Up nor the Chuck. I pulled over and puked…from riding virtually level trail. Awesome.
Fortunately, it was a quicky barf and was the last time during my ride that I returned my sustenance to the earth. But man, what an embarrassment. After I wiped my face, I quickly explained my sad state, saying to the guys passing me, “My kid got me sick!” They gave me their understanding sympathies, but still, why couldn’t my lameness have happened in private?
Sigh. What are ya gonna do? Share my humiliation in a blog, I guess is one answer. But also, I guess I can be happy that getting a sick and winded during a ride on an amazing system of trails running through a gorgeous redwood forest because of a cold I caught from spending quality time with my beautiful, otherwise healthy daughter was the worst problem I had to deal with last Sunday.