Earlier this winter, I found myself looking for some sense of stability in my life. Burnt out on riding, touring, and racing, I saw no point to our somewhat nomadic, gypsy lifestyle. I wanted to build planter boxes that I could grow spinach in instead of my little pots. I wanted a stable home so that I could talk Scott into letting me get a dog. I even started looking into potentially more “grown up” jobs. That last idea got squashed pretty quick when I realized that normal jobs expect you to keep normal hours and to work on a regular and consistent basis.
I found it interesting that the freedom to do what I wanted and to not make plans further than what was for my next meal no longer held a high importance to me and I had these weird urges to nest and make a “home”.
Luckily (?), this phase passed and this past weekend in Sedona highlighted the beauty of flexibility and not having a plan.
Becky had sent a message asking if I wanted to come to Sedona during her Spring Break and ride bikes and race the Arizona Endurance Series Sedona Big Friggin’ Loop. She didn’t have to twist my arm very hard.
I went up with no plan other than to ride bikes. Camp. Hopefully eat some good food. And then go on a long, fitness-test ride on Saturday under the pretense of racing. Sometimes no plans are the best plan.
By the time I drove through the rain in Phoenix, found Becky at the Bike and Bean, and drank a cup of coffee, a light rain had started to fall the valley of red rocks. It’ll pass, we declared as we pedaled up Slim Shady. We made it all of a mile and a half before seeking shelter under a tree, the Rain Tree as it would be known for the rest of the weekend, to check the radar. Things were not looking good so we retreated to the shop.
I have to say, Bike and Bean is one of the coolest shops out there, and we spent not very long being completely entertained by people who worked there, used to work there, and semi-worked there, until Bama unexpectedly showed up, his buddy Andy in tow, as well as whiskey and pizza. Rain didn’t have to be a downer when there was whiskey and pizza involved.
The sun eventually came out and our crew of five, with the addition of a Sedona local with mad skills, rallied for a Highline run. The trails were tacky. Highline, pretty stinking amazing.
We made it back with just enough time to load bikes, head out to Beaverhead Flats, and find a nice little campsite where setting up Scott’s “self explanatory” tent proved to be less than self explanatory. I guess it’s sort of like when he says something is mostly rideable…you have to ask *who* it’s mostly ridable for.
Bama and Andy (and Larry the dog) came and joined us and we talked bikes until all the moisture from the passed storm condensed on us as the temperature dropped, creating a seriously dewey situation and sent us to bed.
Day two brought a ‘Lunch in Sedona via the long way’ ride. Park at the Bike and Bean. Ride trails north. Eat roasted sweet potato and mozzarella sandwiches in Uptown Sedona. Ride trails back. Try not to turn it into too long of a ride.
We found Bama on the porch of the Bike and Bean on our return many (too many?) hours later. We joined him, and along with Nick and Tracy, wasted away an afternoon watching the world go by. I used to be a master porch monkey. The skills came back pretty quick. There was never a shortage of people to talk to or things to watch.
Nick and Tracy decided to come out and camp with us as the sun was sinking, and we went to bed at a reasonable hours in anticipation of an early-ish race morning.
Seventy some-odd people gathered in the parking lot of the Bike and Bean. I saw most of those people never again once we rolled out, but I did get to spend some quality time riding with Kurt and Kaitlyn and El Freako No Longer From Rico for a while, then Hunter and Lenny, then Jerome. When a semi-pro, semi-slick, 10-year old WTB Exiwolf that had been pulled out of retirement decided to threaten to have a hernia instead of just refusing to hold air, it was time to stop and put a tube in. The added tube seemed to add just enough structural integrity to let me limp the final nine miles of trail back, with each descent bringing a ‘She’s gonna blow!’ She didn’t. How? I’m not sure. (The lesson which I’m sure I won’t learn here: Don’t try to race 50 miles on bald and blown out tires).
Pizza and beer awaited at the end, like any good AES event.
I sat there, eating my fifth slice of pizza and sipping my beer, reflecting on the three days. I’d thrown a duffle bag of bike clothes together Wednesday night not even sure if I was going to drive up Thursday because of the rain. We’d had no ride plans. We had no hanging out with friends plans. We had no camping location plans. We had no ‘find an awesome shop and make it our second home’ plan. But it all fell into our lap beautifully, in a way that it never would had we had any semblance of a plan or goals.
When stuff like that works out, it’s a good affirmation that I’m doing something right.