Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ditch Pictures

Part I: Always be prepared.
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I awoke at 8:15 to make sure my light was charged for my first ditch ride (I was out of town for the previous ride); it wasn't. Thankfully I still had an hour or so before Taylor arrived so I plugged it into the charger and set about organizing the rest of my supplies. I was never a Boy Scout but I do like to be prepared:
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Spare tubes, spare tire, multiple CO2's, batteries, water, knife, headlamp, and a handpump. I didn't have a first aid kit but I know I can always make due with some water, a t-shirt and some electrical tape.

By the time Taylor arrived my light was sufficiently charged and we headed over to Dennis'. They were set up and we made our way to the in-progress greenline.

Even though the line isn't officially open there are plenty of people already enjoying the space. Right when we hopped onto the line a couple passed us on road bikes. They may have been riding 25's but they certainly weren't cross or mountain bikes. The terrain is loose gravel so I'm sure they weren't having as easy a time as we were.
Kudos to them; and to the father and son riding extremely slow. I feel bad because I passed them as some other riders were heading our way. I think I scared the dude in front as I cut back across to the right side. I stopped at the entrance and while we were waiting until everyone was out of eyeshot (we didn't want anyone seeing us actually entering the ditch) Dennis thought it would be a good idea to splash me with water. So I think it's a good idea to post this picture of him laughing. Laugh on, crazy face, laugh on.

Part II: Enter the Dragon
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The GPS was no help. No one wanted to wait around long enough for it to find the satellites but we felt confident that with our knowledge of Memphis city streets that we could just poke our heads up and
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know where we were. We took off riding, ducking and dodging low branches, criss-crossing the small stream by popping wheelies over it where the debris wouldn't allow straight line. We rode for quite a while like this and even ducking through some tunnels, none of which we more that 30 yards long. We could always see the light at the end of the tunnel and none were so low that we uncomfortable riding through. Until we came to one tunnel.

We stopped for a second and poked our heads up to see where we were. We saw a playground and figured we were looking at an area of Poplar. So I figured that when we took this new, longer and lower tunnel we would be riding under campus and come out near Southern.
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One should never presume anything. Riding through this tunnel proved more difficult the further we went in, not onaccounta debris but for the low ceiling. It got to the point where we were laying on our top tubes, one foot on one pedal and pushing with the other, craning our necks to see where our lights were pointing, calling out pieces of wood and rebar that had been strewn about the floor. We were relieved to come to this one point where we could stand up and stretch. Johnny looked down and found a hammer, recalling earlier exploits in the ditch by Phil, Hal, Bobby, etc... Dennis put it nicely when he said something like, "If I had known we were going to be leaned over for so long I would have stayed in that spot for longer." We rode for quite a while longer, occasionally taking a break, squatting and letting our necks rest. After several 'how much longer's' and a few 'maybe we should turn back's' we saw a light. Thankfully the rebar was loose enough so we could bend it back enough to get our bikes and bodies through.
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Part III: Urban Trespassing
We rode for a little bit longer and came to an even smaller round tunnel. Time to climb out. Luckily it was fairly easy to get out, though standing on fences proved precarious. We ended up running cross style through someone's back yard and hopping their fence. It was a very 'Ferris Beuller's Day Off' kind of feel, minus girls in bikinis.
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Remember how we thought we were going to pull out on Southern? Wrong. We pulled out next to Shady Grove just before a police officer drove down the street. I think being in the dark for that amount of time disturbed our sense of space. We rode down Shady Grove and passed Memphis Thunder on some kind of Labor Day training ride. Maybe it was just a joy ride because they weren't going very fast.
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And that's all. We'll let you know the next time we go.

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