The plate number has been twist-tied to the bars, Garmin set to record, and every pre-race detail worked out. It's race day at the Rothrock Trail Mix, which follows a route rated as an IMBA Epic Ride, and the mind is set on miles with memories. It's been written before on several team blogs, spoken in countless online vids, and penned in articles, but the fact still remains the same. Riding a bike is an escape, a freedom, and a tool for finding what we are made of and constantly redefining us as riders. A discovery of the land surrounding us as well as discovery of one's own self. This would prove to be one of those rides as the reputation of the State College, PA trails lay before us at the starting line. Technical, rocky terrain hell-bent on breaking rider or machine, and sometimes both.
There are large, flat tabletop rocks, pointy shark fins protruding from the earth, round dinosaur eggs, square curbstones directly facing you, loose rocks that never seem to find a permanent home, every rock in the genus stone imaginable. Midway through this ride, they all have been indentified through visual profiling and assigned an infliction rating. Plans are devised and lines chosen in the blink of an eye. It's a mix letting the front wheel drift, keeping momentum, and throwing weight back towards the rear. A delcate balance and sometimes just a roll of the dice. Through these trials and tribulations, there are memories solidified, scenery locked into the visual index of our mind, war story narratives formed, and triumphs celebrated.
The 5 beer stops, the views up on Tussey Ridge, riding with friends watching everyone's unique strength rise to the occasion on the terrain that unfolded before us. The emotions range from agony and pain on John Wert Trail, to an ear to ear grin on the fast, smooth rolling dirt of the Lonberger. Cherishing the gateway we stepped though to be here. The woods are a thing of wonder capable of transporting us into the real world. A time natrual to humans, before modernized society. We catch these glimpses along our journey. Passing natural springs that have a provided a service to humans for centuries. The decrepit furnace stacks of Shingletown Gap as a testimonial to conservation and pushing back against big business. The overall beauty that has been drawing people to the area since the age of man. Individually, our race time far exceeded our moving time, which translated means a lot of stopping, but we didn't come here for the win.