The Pettit Files, The most excellent miss adventure of Jonny P-” Melley the magnificent” and the 12 hour choir
Satin and lace, the bitter taste of blood, sweat, beer and survival. Heaven and hell to each they spell the words of their rivals, but none lurks larger than what growls inside. Each a voice unique to the soul, and this form of expression is sometimes all we know, so we put wheels to the ground to spin the globe, and ride the worries behind us.
My freedom much like anyone’s is mine to choose, or better yet, take the enchanted path that tugs me precariously in directions unknown, but for the most part I’m greatly more comfortable in what is yet history, and what is yet a new day. In the twilights of old and new is where some of the greatest stories ever lived, birthed in the glow of moonlight, then blazed on in view of the sun, to be relived and told, time after time.
So now over a year and a half in the arid desert of what has become the place I lay my head, I’ve chosen to race longer races, stretch rides past the point of uncertainty and open doors and friendships in the harshness of the elements that we love to be in, and somehow the fortitude of ourselves makes the stories and adds a depth and meaning to our years.
Its been some interesting many months, forgoing the comfort of greater money of construction and commercial fishing, the sights and sounds of my loved hometown and state, but there was a comfortableness that burnt me to get away, I suppose that’s the gypsy wanting to roam. I’ve taken to the bike shop world and tried to nail down some decent training hours all the while hoping the leg heals properly, trying to determine the proper pain tolerance hasn’t always been a gift of mine, so I’m doing the best I can once I feel certain the discomfort is too much and it’s time to ease off. I’ve even completed my first solo 12 hour race, much to my chagrin I rode about where I thought I was going too, albeit you always want a little more, but happy none the less, especially on a course I don’t even like to ride if it weren’t an event, but it was an option to log 11 plus hours and 148 miles of mind bending training for the coming months, and also prepare for our team effort of 24 hours of old pueblo, also to be my first 24 hour event. I’ve riding these distances alone with packs, but never under the timer of a race, and it’s a lot different.
Melley the magnificent left the mortals to fend for themselves as he powered away with the aid of only one gear, a huge effort and one I found very impressive, even if I was fit for January there is certainly no way I could’ve rode with him on a day like this. First of all, just trying to figure out what you need to eat is trying enough, I shoveled mouthfuls of goos and gels, until my stomach felt like I ate a gallon of arts and craft glue, loaded that up with a nutella and jelly sandwich and gladly knocked that back with some free beer along the course, only to have all of said objects and the night before turn and twist in my gut like a foundering mare out in the pasture, thank god they had some honey buckets and the course was only 7 or so miles long, or half of downtown Tempe would’ve seen my Snohomish white ass out in some saguaro cactus and I would’ve been down a sock.
I was riding decent for a bit and even on Melleys wheel when coming back through the start/finish area I heard a pop in my right hamstring, I got scarred shitless thinking I re-injured my leg, the pain wasn’t like it was before but more like two cable pushing and sliding over one another, I tried a different pedal stroke some PT people offered and spun around for 3-4 laps, and in that time my mind got taken out of the race, I was riding in second with about a 3 minute gap or so on 3rd and about 5 mins of 4th, I knew it was only a matter of time before they caught me, and one was my buddy papa Roche and I was eager to ride awhile with him. I talked to second place finisher for a bit and there was a haphazard conversation about “working together” to catch my other bud Melley, I laughed and said good luck dude, I’m just cruising, his plan was for me to follow him in the single track and for him to sit on in the canals, the canals made up for about 1/3 of the race and the little fella wanted to get dragged around by my jet stream, so I sat up and waited for Laroche.
Laroche came by me and I wanted to ride with him like we usually do, but my leg and guts had other plans he was riding strong and got by me easily and I couldn’t stay on his wheel, so once again I was cruising solo. A lot more solo’s passed me and from mile 50 to nearly mile 80 I felt like plan ole dog shit, my legs and hips hurt my mind was funking, I kept seeing airplanes and highways, and these stupid canals, with those sights the epicness was gone from my mind, instead I was just faced with the same rocks until the sunset and then they would be just shaded stones in the desert. I was talking myself right outta the race. So I stopped off and had a slug of whiskey by drunk cyclist composer Chris Reichel, knocked off half a Tecate, slammed a coke, took another deuce and hopped back on the bike. Another saving grace was my good friends Tim Hillsamer and Sara Kessans who were in the beer garden hollering at everyone they knew and didn’t, I felt comforted by seeing them and decided to finish this sucker. My leg was feeling better and the coke was easing my stomach and the fire was re-lit.
I dropped all the way down to ninth place at one time, but I started to figure out what was hurting my gut and where to push it. I could see my boys across the canal and knew the gap was more than I could bridge but it was a good feeling knowing some muscle was back in my legs. At mile 100 I patted myself on the back and gave the bike a rub, its been my first singular hundred mile effort since the barn burner, and my first on the new machine. I caught my rhythm and began having fun, then I began to reel in the riders one by one, I wanted to catch my good friend Laroche, but knew he wouldn’t let such a comeback happen, and I was glad to see him ridding strong, we passed some words in the tunnel where you had to get off and run.
The course itself was a mundane urban maze of single track, doubling, back tracking and snaking around a little area, with one little climb that took maybe 20 seconds, even in my 1×10 I cleared it no problem every time, and again I was blown away by the race of Melley on his single speed, what a stud. Passing was fairly easy and the canals were flat expanses perfect for such occasions, on the last 3-4 you had to have your lights on, the shop owner showed up with his camera and it was good to holler at him, although you didn’t need your lights until maybe two laps, it was cool to put em on, it added a sense of realness to a 12 hour race, night riding has become a cool pastime of mine. The tranquility is real, and the familiar trails are shadowed and a little spooky causing the heart to race and mind to wonder.
All told at the end of the day was a great event put on by Red Rock Co, and I finished strong with no major ailments, in my mind I had the image of 150 miles, and I was only a few shy of that, I rolled in fourth place a couple laps down on Mike, and one behind strong second place finisher Brian Bennett, and my bud Bob LaRoche, one flat tire, two deuces and an untold number of cokes and peanut M&M’s, and I’ll be damned if I’m not ready to do it again, just knowing what works for your body in races like that is more than half the battle, but for my first showing, not too shabby.
I had to work the next day and the toll was obvious, the bike was covered in a grim of dust, lube and hopes it sat looking at me for more and good thing for it, it’s got me for an owner. As I write this now on my off day, I’m packing up to head to Texas with juggernaut rep, bike racer extraordinaire, poo bear himself bike geek Travis McMaster, two dudes, a bunch of gear and some rigs going to do battle in the small town of El Paso for 50 miles just barely north of Juarez Mexico. I’m sure that four day road trip will have many stories to tell, I’m excited about a road trip and check out a different neck of the woods even farther from Snohomish. Next up is the first MBAA race, then the Arizona Endurance Series, a 115 miler down in Oracle, so the month of January is kicking off for a year full of adventure and suffer for 2011.
The fear of last year is diminished a little, I’m working steady and have surrounded myself with good like-minded people, and the adventures have been notched up a step higher, hell I’ve even given a committed relationship a try. Scrambling for dough to expand my sights and ride and write from a different advantage point is a great and trying time, but one I wouldn’t change for anything, I’m thankful for the help and positives I’ve earned and gained along the way and those that continue to read and report back to me. These friendships are real and the smiles are infectious, the gratitude is in the handshakes and hugs with those that find each other in places most don’t travel. If you don’t put limits on things, then the ceiling isn’t low or high but non-existent, the ability to be comfortable comes from having patience in the uncertain times and refusing to return to the safety of what you know, but walk towards the darkness with a wanderlust and fear, knowing it’s always the darkest before dawn and that warmth along with the view of something you may never thought you may never see or experience is the pure reward. So go out and get some…..