Wynoochee

"Yea, sure we can get back to town by 4PM. Let's just meet at 6AM." Plans like that always sound like a good idea a few days or even a night before the actual trip. The realization of how stupid you are sets it when you set your alarm. 5AM? Really? Why? To ride bikes. And so here we were on our first ride together as a team. Excited, chomping at the bit and stoked to explore new roads. When it was all over we were thrilled to realize how well we work together and stick as a team. And some of us realized just how close they came to laying down and leaving it all in the middle of the road. Here is the ride recap from Tyler Smith - AB.

Calamity doesn't always surprise you, like a pothole, or blind corner, or beer can thrown from a passing truck. Sometimes, it develops slowly and quietly over the course of a ride, as micro-choices and miniature decisions accumulate into something unavoidable, unstoppable, irreversible. 

The many small choices I made that morning during our trek into the Olympics, and actions I failed to take, led me to a place I haven't been in a very long time. A place I never wanted to go back to, and will try desperately to avoid in the future. The locals call it Bonktown, USA.

Add up the variety of mistakes I made, or omissions that never crossed my mind: too little clothing, too little food, too much bourbon, and too many sprints off the front and throw in a dash of frigid rain, gravel fire roads, and wilderness trails to nowhere, and you have the recipe for my my most recent trip to Bonktown. 

Once I arrived in Bonktown city limits, I realized with a sort of embarrassment that I was now a liability for the rest of the riders around me. We were still a good 20 miles from the car, and I couldn't feel my feet, hands, or face, and I was already slurring like a 21-year old who was 10 shots into the birthday celebration. As the mile markers ticked off the remaining mileage, I started to weave, and found myself on the center line of the road narrowly missing some giant trucks in the oncoming lane. Every incline that we encountered slowed my progress as if an anchor dropped out of my jersey and now trailed on the asphalt behind me. 

The riders around me, my teammates, once jovial and full of banter, now ground out silent miles with heads hanging low, faces numb from the rain and tire spray around them, riding for the sole purpose of survival. They grew smaller and their shapes were eventually swallowed up by the road ahead until I could barely see their tire tracks in the rain. One remained - Adam. When we started the ride, I would have bet 20 bucks that this kid, who was running on less than 3 hours of sleep after closing his bar the night before, and on a broken handlebar, would have been the first to crack. Instead, Adam was now towing my sorry ass back to the car, occasionally looking over his shoulder to give me a thumbs-up; insurance that my brain was still functioning. Irony at its finest. 

The Olympics take no prisoners, I discovered that day. This was a land for hard men. These roads weren't for the faint of heart, or those lacking in preparation. Lesson learned. I will be back for you, Wynoochee. And next time, I will skip the detour to Bonktown.

Words by Tyler Smith.
Photographs by Adam Kachman, Andy Bokanev, Kelly Nowels, Josh Stinger, Nate Hoe andTyler Smith.

Here is the route on Strava