Thursday, June 26, 2014

Whats in the word EPIC

One of the most commonly used and likely overused words in a cyclist’s vocabulary is the word “EPIC”.  It seems that on every day, one of my cycling friends shares a story on Facebook about their most recent ride and how “epic” it was.  According to Merriam Webster, epic means a) extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope; and b) heroic.  Is it truly conceivable that there are so many “heroic” rides happening? Take the recent HillyBilly Roubaix… 72 miles of Monongalia (WV) and Greene (PA) Conuty’s gnarliest and nastiest country, gravel, and dirt “roads”. At one point I had 7 consecutive posts from friends that were all touting the HBR as an epic adventure. Really? I don’t think that’s possible.  If I look at the elevation profile of of the course, its hard not see the similarities it shares with the jaw/teeth of an ornery old alligator.
Ouch... even without the power of a 12' gator behind it, this jagged profile hurts BAD!

But then I started thinking… rides can become epic for a number of reasons.  First of all, you have those rides that are epic because of how well the rider finished. Winning your category and getting to hold a five pound chunk of West Virginia’s greatest assests while standing on half of a dilapidated wooden barrel, would have to be a highlight of most racers careers and therefore be considered an epic day.  
Once again the Rodostas show how its done, taking home the top step honors at the HillyBilly Roubaix

Then there are those that have epic days because their ride is accentuated with numerous mechanical failures like flat tires and broken chains, epic rides no doubt. For example, my friend Ken Mowry of E2C2 had 4 flats and was observed bumming spare tubes and CO2 cartridges at the first aide station since he had already depleted his supply. And I’m also told that my former teammate, Jonathan Suite, broke his chain 4 times but still managed to collect enough quick links along the way to keep his rig running. 
Notice Ken's pocket is already bulging from one of his destroyed tubes after flatting on John Fox rd, just 4 miles into the race.

And when you really get down to it, the HBR is epic for people who aren’t even racing. One volunteer missed the corner they were supposed to working, and made the mistake of thinking that all roads are built the same.  She found out the hard way that the Legend of Little Indian Creek Extension lives on and may have even grown in stature after these two pictures of her poor car were shared. 
But as a side note, she got the car pulled out with minimal damage and she still managed to keep her wits together enough to go on to pass her state board examination later that day… congratulations for surviving your own epic day. 
Typically, two wheel action should refer to bicycles, not the number of tires that get lifted off the ground when a car slides down a muddy road into a crater.
As one racer put it... "Thanks JR for taking the time to fill the biggest holes to make it safer for those racing the bikes"  And apparently this was not the only vehicle to get stuck on LICE as someone else made the mistake of trying to preview the course the night before.
 And finally, there are those rides that end up being epic for no fault or effort of your own.I had the pleasure of riding Coed Duo with Nikki Berrian (Read her account of her HBR experience here).  This is the 3rd time we have teamed up for some hairbrained adventure and I have enjoyed every single one of them. But this was different because 72 miles is further than either one of us has ridden this season. She was riding a bike she borrowed  because she didn’t trust the brakes on her CX bike and I had to ride my MTB because I haven’t gotten around to replacing my Cannondale CAADX, which was totaled back in March.  Up until 2 months ago, I had planned on driving sag, but Nikki got into the sangria and drunk texted me her brilliant idea to race the coed duo with me.  And against everything I have ever sworn since I completed the HBR in 2012, I proceeded to sign us up.  And as we started, we lined up in the back of the field with a smile on our face and rolled out for what we hoped would be a fun day.
Its another fine mess you've gotten us into, Olie.

 I wasn’t sure I had it in me to complete all 72 miles and I admitted to Bee that as we left the Second Aide Station, we had already made it further than I expected.  I think this hurt her feelings as she took it as me doubting her, but it was as much as me doubting my own ability as anything… and that’s when our ride became epic.  At one particular random intersection, we could see the personal belongings of a course marshall sitting on the side of the gravel road.  And as we got down to it, there was no sign of them anywhere. I joked that they must have been abducted by aliens.  In the words of my fellow Dynamic Physical Therapy Cycling Team member, EJ Hubstenberger… “AND THEN..” and then we saw them.  They were having their own epic day out in the middle of some farmer’s field. They were obviously unaware of our presence and were caught up in their own little moment.  I knew that no one was going to believe me when we got back so I just had to take the picture for proof. 

On the one hand I am sorry that I accidentally left a “filter” turned on when I took the picture, on the other hand, the filter protects the identity of the parties involved.  I don’t know them personally but am friends with some of their friends, and I know there was a lot of ribbing for them on the ride home. They probably had the ultimate in epic rides, but because of the story that Nikki and I rode away from the HBR with, it made our ride an awesome ride an epic ride for us as well.

So in reflection on the past weekend of racing, I realized that epic exists on multiple levels. People experience epic rides for a variety of reasons. Some rides are epic because they do well and they get to shower their competitors with cheap sparkling wine. Some rides are epic because they do poorly or have have to overcome seemingly impossible odds to finish. Others have epic days because of how they overcome obstacles and challenges and come out on top and achieve their own personal goals. And then some rides are epic because of the sights they see and the stories you live to talk about.  In short, the word epic is synonymous with the HillyBilly Roubaix.  Heres to your next HillicBillic ride.

And here are just a few of my favorite pictures from the rest of the Hilly Billy Roubaix... thought you might enjoy them as well:
Friday Night's Ominous skies... and the weather didn't disappoint

It was a completely stupid way to break in a brand new pair of socks, but I was overdue for laundry day and I wouldn't dare take on such an adventure without a pair of Swiftwick Pursuits on my piggies.
Speaking of piggies... you can see me in the light blue kit on the right thrid of the background

Pre Race Wrenching Courtesy of Mackdiddle
That Final moment when the race is over and the Mason Jar beer mug is finally earned