Wednesday, April 9, 2008

08 Double Down and back: The Final Push and Spiritual Transfer

Don't cry Jordy, it is going to be okay Rock on!
The phones ringing were the next thing I remember through the empty dreamless darkness ruined an hour and something ago by the big little drunk fellow. "Jordy, Dude(he came out to our sanctuary right after the meat head left), it's time", I said in disbelief. The three of us never really moved for the few minutes, I remember mental confusion wanting so desperately just to close my eyes and hope all of this would go away. Rest, ha. Don't fall out Bill, the time is now or you will be stuck here on the Ballentoon Isle. Ten minutes had passed while we chit chatted the potential excuses before Dude jumped up and went down the outside ladder way to the ground floor mud room. In the sleeping bag I put on my new clean kit of the day just like I had planned to do and had done 24hrs and something ago back in Charlotte before I left the house for the Double Down. I Stuffed my bag then headed down to the mud room to pack up and stage my jump bag for return trip by the garage free Sequoia. Seemed as if the troops were milling about each thinking something not said which is why I guess they call it thinking. Then it started to pour down rain shortly after 0420hrs hrs. I could not help but wonder what Dude and Jordy actually had bouncing around in their skulls at that point but I knew that I was ready to ride in the now, not sure about 15 or 18 hours from now but in the now all I need is my helmet, the bike was powered and ready. Later on in the ride after the sun came up when I asked Jordy what was on his mind in the mud room as we were getting out of there he openly and honestly admitted that he was considering crying out loud and for real. According to him, he figured it may be the only chance he had to talk me out of leaving, if he cried how could I not say, "It's okay Jordy, we can stay here and get back to sleep in our bags." Whatever. Dude with Pizza in one hand and the mid shocker in the other apparently was ready to rock. I took one shot of Jordy in his tearful contemplation, then 3 shots of GU for morning chow and I walked out with bike waiting on my wing men, it was 0440 when they walked out. We rolled after one last BM the Dude had to make on the Isle at exactly 0450hrs. Not that it made a diff but my original plan was to have already been up the road 15 miles by that time.

The streets off the Isle were wet and the bridge came up in front of us, how daunting it appeared in the dark 10 hours after I had last seen it. I was out in the front with my big bright light that folks thanked me for bringing the day before and now after fresh charge we were grateful as well. It was not me to thank though it was none other than the 2006 24Hour-Solo Single Speed Mountain Bike World Champion Rich 'Team Dicky' Dillen who was smart enough to know how much we were actually hanging it out and was thoughtful enough to temp loan me his brand new Night Rider TriNewt. Just as the climb started I saw a blinky high up on top of the bridge going in the same direction as we were just over mile in to the ride. I thought to myself, "Andreas"?, has he come to pull us back?" I went hard after the blinking red light like a man possessed in the dark knowing that it was him. Dammit, it is just some crazy guy who did not say a word when I rolled by fully lit shouting over the wind at the top of the bridge, "Hello!" Onward and off the Isle following Smoot's cue sheet from the day before exactly backwards which I had been studying for a few weeks and even understood the backwards math vs. the mileage which I had to count on Dude's computer for. The wireless I had mounted special for the trip started acting funny in the cold rain the day before and completely quit at the lunch stop. It went to sleep and never came back.

In early morning twilight I was alone out ahead noticing every few miles these huge stone and iron gates on the left side of the road. I would coast by and look through the gates down the long tree lined grassed surface entrances to these huge plantation properties from a century and a half past. The estates appeared lifeless and abandoned, perhaps the owners far away in a newer and more convenient version of their extended property surrounded by their own outside Atlanta or Charlotte for that matter. When I went over the tracks in the strange small swamp town of Cordesville, SC I stopped at the Post Office, sat down and took my self portrait before Dude and Jordy rolled up. We sat for a few and took in the sun rise before mounting back up to ride the next Stay Alive into Moncks Corner for some breakfast. It rained hard halfway there until we came over the last bridge for the Huddle House where we walked in to the stares of those who rarely get to see such humans as us dressed all scary with clean eyes and huge grins. We ate eggs, toast, potatoes, Dude had bacon and Jordy Pancakes with grits. Our lovely waitress hooked us up with plenty of coffee and water all for a fare price and with a smile. The stares kept coming but who can blame them? If I saw us as cracked out as we were I would have stared too. The only difference is I would have came up to us and asked some questions. Like WTF? Yum, warm fooding. I led us out of there an hour after we stopped knowing our route was the road HWY17/52 and then HWY17 Live Oak Blvd across the street. I barely remember asking Dude for a mileage count to gauge the next turn but I know I did because we lined up and headed out.

We had 2 Stay Alives to go for the next turn and shortly there after Jordy noticed a very important pain in his knee that was now 280miles old in the 2 day adventure and the burn was becoming a problem so we pulled over less than 30mins after leaving Moncks. After noticing that his saddle was all out of wack both height and knee over spindle Dude hooked Jordy up with a curb side roady fit that would have made any pro pass out at this point in this type of ride. Thankfully no pro race team here just some guys doing something on their own without the team support of a trailer and/or fitting machine. Dude, seriously, great work at that stage of our ride. While he did that I made a call north to the camels and let them know that we now had pain. Once we got rolling again Jordy felt much better and we tightened up with him in the middle of Dude out front and me on his wheel.

Just before 21 miles and 1.5hrs since we left Moncks I realized that I did not recognize anything that I was seeing so I asked my mates to confirm. I made a navigational mistake within a mile of Moncks that now had us 28miles off of the Cue. No wonder why we had been fighting another morning of head wind when it was supposed to be at our backs. We had been going away from Charlotte rather than towards it. Neither one of them or I ever freaked. Special map purchase at Summerville, let's get this thing back on course and figure out why my intuition which I have really come to love and trust has us where we are. Map in pocket, direction known and we are alive and finally heading north. Two and a half hours later when we officially got back on the cue we were 2 miles from the Huddle House. Thankfully I was the only one(I know Dude never saw it) who noticed the signage because as bad as that made me feel I could only imagine that either one of them would have thrown a brick through a window. When I went in JR's store at the corner of the Cue and not the Cue the wonderful lady inside confirmed my wide eyed self that we were indeed where I thought we were and to boot she told me about a short cut to Santee Cooper not really on the map that would save us 5 or 6 miles of the original 28 I had us off by. I asked her husband for the mileage to Santee with the Short cut on his wife's hand written map, "31, I drive it in the truck once a week, 31", he said and smiled at the exact same time. Great, in three Stay Alives we will be 135 miles or 13 and a half Stay Alives from the our destination where the Red Sea is. They told me the short cut off the map road would come up on the left just after the Cross Elementary School and Cross Fire Station off of the Route 6(I grew up off of Route 6 in Brooklyn CT) we were traveling. I came out laughing and onward we peddled for this ubiquitous short cut.

On that 6 approaching the Elementary School shortly before we came up on our off shoot short cut to the left I noticed movement drop out of a tree from above to directly in front of us. I screamed something like, "Guys look a bird of prey with an animal!!" It was on, we were chasing a large bird of prey(at first I thought eagle, then osprey) that had a huge piece of flesh in it's talons which slowed it's escape from us down Route 6. I saw silver color on the under belly of the prey, Dude got closer than I and said that it looked like a fish. What ever it was, was dead for sure being flown down the road in front of us at about 7ft off the deck. The bird fatigued and drifted left before dropping the weight to escape our more efficient attack. After he dropped the meat, he took off to the right and perched up to wait for us to leave so he could continue his meal. We never stopped, we only laughed and rode on up to the school and then the fire house where we found our short cut to the left exactly where it was supposed to be. After the firehouse and before Henry's road side market the road was clearly marked, Short Cut Road. We stopped in Henry's and were greeted by Karen who took great care to fill our bottles and give us fresh out of the oven home made southern style extra chocolate brownies. Thank you Karen! We left there with 3 Stay Alives to Santee which seemed to fly by.

It was a raining and coming up on 1600hrs, three hours later than it should have been but 11hrs after we had left the Isle when we rolled in to Santee Cooper for a hot dog, map assessment and had or first serious discussion of planning for an extraction. I basically stood my ground and said that I will not be on 521 above Camden for Lancaster and then the Jar after dark. Dude asked if I was afraid of the dark and I said, "Yes, at that point 16hrs in my second day of riding I will be terrified." At that point Mercer Fabrications was contacted who was very familiar with Camden SC and could be there from the QC by 4 person truck in an hour and ten. I let him know our status and he said as long as we covered his gas he would meet us in Camden between 1930 and 2000hrs which meant that we had to keep going for another 6 Stay Alives or 60 miles before then. Okay fellas let's get over that Old I-95 Bridge and get on up State. Jordy flatted twice within the next two miles and we gleefully helped him out in the constant rain and dark gray sky.

We soon started gaining momentum again in a northerly track. I had been back on the cue for awhile and there were no more nav problems, Dude watched the computer and I watched the paper and helped with the math. We were doing crazy math forward together, so crazy I felt we were on the verge of our own new theory. The rain let up a bit and the vistas were amazing, in spots so void of the car viper for such long periods of time I thought we were having a euro transfer. At around 140mi or 14 Stay Alives for the day and still positive 24 miles in the wrong direction my left foot started burning. In all past physical challenges I had never felt anything the like. So when we rolled in to the tiny country store at Boykin SC on that HWY261 for our last bottle refill just before a wet gray sun set and an hour before meeting our on coming extraction I decided to sit on the gas pump island and have a look. The feet of a dead man I tell you, complete trench foot Marine Corps style. I laughed so hard that Paige and her hunter friends decked out head to toe in camouflage decided to see what we had been in to for the previous 36 hours or so. When we told them they gathered round and pulled off of our energies while they gave us theirs. It was nice, they were nice and very sincere in their admiration for what we had been through to that point. Nothing was hidden, it was all true and brilliantly planned when earlier in the day my intuition took us away from here. We wound up leaving with dead feet and rejuvenated souls but not without hand shakes, high fives and no kidding cosmic individual hugs from a stripper who worked at Boykin's(population 2,773) only topless bar, Double D's. Like Double Down. Before she came around with the unsolicited hugs she said that we deserved them and she was happy for us to have them for free of charge. I laughed out loud and rolled away smiling.

The last Stay Alive was in rainy darkness but I was once again lighting the way with the TriNewt blaring a beam out front. There were some rolling climbs and fast wet descents where I think and Dude will have to confirm but we may have hit 40mph fatigued but not dead. The cars kept coming and at 2000hrs shortly after completing 160miles on day 2 with over 85 to get back to Charlotte our extraction vehicle came flying by us just below Camden. Yes, we are not going to die tonight on 521 after all!! Jeff spun the truck around and we loaded up at an Old Cemetery attached to this quiet and brick church. It was good to see my crazier than thou friend, it had been over two months since I saw him last when I helped him pick up his truck. As we drove off North towards the jar everything felt right to me, no sense of accomplishment and no sense of failure for we were alive and living it. Just as I was getting warm about three miles up the road I screamed, "Dicky's light!, Shit, I left it at the church!!". Jeff completely understood my lack of frame of mind and wheeled the truck around allowing me to quickly recover the 400$ piece of borrowed euipment and thankfully he had not run it over when we backed out the first time. We were back in the Ballentoon area at the Earth fare where Dude's 283 was waiting and very close to Jordy's dwelling by 2200hrs. We dropped them off and on his way home Jeff let me out at my house 30 minutes later. Jeff Mercer, I cannot thank you enough for your instant support and internal understanding of what we had been through and what we we were trying to do.

initial observations:

Between Friday 0400hrs and Saturday 2000hrs Dude, Jordy and I covered just over 380(38 Stay Alives in two days) self supported road miles, basically the distance from my house here in Charlotte North Carolina to Washington DC.

I love riding my bike.

The Double Down and Back has not been done, leaving opportunity for next year.

Dude laughs and it is real.

Jordy makes me laugh and that is real.
LATE EDIT: Read more about the East Side Stay Alive HERE

More to follow and still yet hopefully some contributing works from the other two.
Wet darkness Day 2-Photo Dude
Me going over low creek bridge-Photo Dude
Good times, business ahead-Photo Jordy
Really, it was Short Cut Rd-Photo Dude
About to get back on the dirt track
Feet of a corpse
Dead feet and pain/hr15 Day 2-Photo Jordy

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