Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bikes + Brew = Bliss...

It’s 8:45 on a chilly Sunday morning in early November, and I’m running late. Not unusual. People who know me know to add a minimum of 15 minutes to any appointment time I give. It’s not arrogance or apathy or disrespect. It’s just me and my chronic inability to get my shit together…quickly. But this time it’s different. This time I’m late to my own event, and that’s never good. I rack the bike, buckle it on securely, then toss my bag o’ togs into the back of Moby Dick and quickly head back into the house to get the beer.

I drive over to Butch’s place to pick him up. On the way, random bumps in the road are answered by a voice from the back seat as a little surprise I’m hauling chatters like ice in a tumbler. It’s a box of pint glasses imprinted with the Bootlegger’s Bliss logo: a jolly, heavyset, Buddha-like figure astride a fat tire single-speed and hoisting a frothy pint glass to the gods, grinning open-mouthed like a village idiot. He’s the perfect avatar for the Bliss, though to be honest I'd have serious doubts about his fat ass making it up the rocky climbs awaiting us. Hell, I've got serious doubts about my own ass making the climbs, but that's a matter of later concern.

I roll in, and Butch is ready to go. We rack his bike, load in his stuff, including a big pot of homemade chili, and pull out, knowing that the best we can do at this point is arrive right on the scheduled time. There is a bit of setting up to do, and I had wanted to get there a half hour or more in advance. Not happening, so we settle in for the hour-long ride from northern Virginia to Boonsboro, Maryland, shooting the shit about the usual and speculating on the number of rider/brewers who will show up. Speculating, because we have no idea if there will be 5 or 25 riders waiting for us. The nature of the event makes the exact number of participants hard to pin down, since those who expressed an interest were encouraged to bring friends and family. Toss into the mix the usual dose of back-outs and crashers, and attendance gets even more difficult to assay.

The drive goes quickly, and it isn’t long before we’re hanging a left off 17 and rolling up to the entrance to Greenbrier State Park. We toss a few bucks into the slotted box at the kiosk and motor down the park road to our destination, Pavilion No. 1. In the parking lot next to the pavilion, several cars rest, their owners gathered in groups of three or four, bikes idle for the moment. DT, my partner is this wannabe crime, is already giving a trail map the once-over, dialing in some last minute addenda with hopes of adding a few miles to the main loop. It’s brisk, maybe high 40s or low 50s. I do a quick count of attendees. The turnout seems low, especially given that it’s 10:00, the published starting time. As Butch and I unload our gear, I’m struck by the possibility that this event will be a little too exclusive. I was hoping to meet some new brewers and riders. In fact, that was the point…to bring together people with similar interests to celebrate those interests. I had visualized a packed parking lot, giving way to a flotilla of bikes clogging the unsuspecting double track, culminating in a standing room only throng of thirsty riders jonesing for some DIY PRBs.

Looking around, I recognize most of the faces. They’re the usual ragtag of group-ride groupies. There’s big John with his trusty Quickbeam, the Outlaw and his incongruously dubbed wife, Ms. Outlaw, ShivaSteve, Kevin, and some other faces that I had yet to meet. Conspicuously absent was the Disco Cowboy, who assured me he would make it, and his girl. DC even said he'd take some pix, but he was nowhere to be seen. It wasn't long before some others began to arrive, including Tony and his (new) girl. By my count, we were up to about 18 riders.

Butch and I start to unload our gear and haul it down to the pavilion by the lake.

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