The fun started long before we got into the Virtus van on Friday. Waaaay back in November, Luke emailed with the brilliant idea of a "Team Virtus Bachelor-ish Party" for Bob, celebrating the
He was a little bewildered when they pulled into my driveway (not at all on the way to Luke's grandma's house where he thought he was going to help her move) and even more so when we turned east on the interstate. We had a blast encouraging him to make wild guesses (not a Kid Rock concert), and when Luke, who'd conspired with Bob's boss to get our guest of honor the weekend off, informed Bob that he was also off work on Monday, the possibilities grew even more improbable ("You did bring your passport, right??").
|Who wouldn't want to visit the World's Largest Wind Chime?|
1. Don't bet Bob that he won't do something unless you want to lose your money.
2. If you've just earned an awesome nickname, don't immediately follow up with a story that saddles you with a much less cool one.
|We caught Bob peeking at a gas station atlas in the attempt to figure out where the heck we were going.|
|Five people, three bikes, one elevator. And we all still liked each other after 11 hours in the car together.|
|Doesn't look like anything special, does it?|
We checked in with the super nice staff, bought our two-day passes, and looked around. Two things were immediately obvious. First, nobody was going to mistake us for locals. The guys were in baggies and I was in my regular spandex bike shorts, the only kind I own. Almost every other person there was in jeans and tshirts, and while our bikes sported clipless pedals, most people were on platform pedals. We definitely didn't blend.
The second unmistakable fact was that I was totally in over my head. The guys were stoked; I was moderately terrified. Watching the amount of air riders on the jump track were getting right in front of me, I was intimidated to say the least and pretty sure my teammates were going to regret dragging me along. I considered opting to sit and watch all day.
The guys, on the other hand, were ready to check things out. I dropped into my preferred spot (in back) as we rode onto the green trail. Uh-oh...I'd watched a youtube video of someone riding the green trail, and it had scared the crap out of me (now, after my time there, it doesn't look nearly as scary).
Riding on the wooden "trails" was much different than on singletrack (kind of a "no kidding" type of observation, huh?), but the thing that threw me most at the beginning was the lip on the hills. Rather than having a curved top, the peaks were flat, and the edge tended to throw up the front tire when you hit it. This is compounded when one takes the inclines too slowly, so when I hit the very first hill my bike slipped off to the side and I almost fell. Instead, I grabbed onto the railing and caught myself.
Once you turn the corner in the picture, there's another downhill followed by a steeper ramp, one which I coasted halfway up before having to grab onto the railing to pull myself the rest of the way up. The biggest hill of the green loop was next, and I think I was walking my bike up this when Adam looked back to see where the heck I was. "I fell," I admitted, getting back onto my bike when I reached the top of the trail, a second-story passageway that led into a fun downhill (well, it was progressively more fun each time I rode it).
I caught up to the guys in the beginner room, which had some ground-level wooden bridges and planks to ride on one side and some rollers and drop offs to ride on the other. I pedaled around a little, trying out one of the wider wooden bridges and then getting the confidence to ride off one of the drop-offs...and just about crashing again. It was frustrating to be so nervous despite having ridden harder things on trails, but it seemed a lot more intimidating inside.
|In the beginner room|
After another lap or two (falling one more time on a ramp) I attempted to go back towards the entrance for a drink and a break. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to get out, so I practiced riding over a small ramp in the novice room before riding the green loop again until luckily running into Robby who helped me escape. Back at the tables I posted on facebook..
My friends don't tend to feed into my wimpy tendencies, though, and I got a quick response from Patrick.
He was right, of course. I was very disappointed in myself for being such a wimp, especially when everybody else was having such a good time. As we all talked about what we'd done so far, I mentioned what a hard time I was having with the ramps, so the guys went back to the novice room with me and talked me through riding over the ramp there again and again. They were starting to jump on it, and while I couldn't do that I did get more comfortable. While riding around in there, we heard a loud crack and looked over to see Casey lying on the ground. His tube had exploded as he came down off of the ramp.
|Sport section from the beginning|
|View of some of the lines in the sport section from the end|
|My iphone didn't like taking pictures from across the room|
|Bob, Adam, me, Casey, Robby|
|Luke got the closest to a back flip|
|I was pretty upset about it. :)|
|That ramp behind the blue helmet is part of a teeter totter, and there's a series of little hills right behind Casey's left arm.|
|WTF? Tire trouble, day 2|
|Not one of our group, but a good shot of the Red Bull wall|
|Sometimes there was a cost for being braver than me.|
|Spent, but happy|
|Pondering malt vinegar. To drink, or not to drink? If you know Bob, you know the answer.|
|Luke was pretty happy with his dinner selection. I don't think Robby got much of it.|
Family that really needs another major event to celebrate, because we're all dying to go back.