Archive for September 10th, 2011

10th September
written by amber

The Bike Ride

“Hey, man, if we get lost, I have everything we need to camp out.”

“Rog, we won’t get lost. I’ve got maps and the GPS. Anyhow, if you have everything you need, how come you forgot your helmet?” Jeremy wonders why he agreed to go on this trip with a guy he barely knows, but it’s difficult to find other riders who want to do the longer, more difficult, rides. Rog had been the only one to answer the message he’d posted on a cycling website.

“Helmets are for sissies! Let’s go!”

Down the trail Rog hurls himself and his bike, Jeremy struggling to keep up. The difference isn’t fitness. Rog just seems to throw caution to the wind. At the bottom of the hill, Jeremy finds Rog muddy and panting. He says, “Crap! You took that hill way too fast. We’ve got a lot of hours to ride today, let’s not break anything on the first hill.”

“It was great! I only fell twice and I still beat you to the bottom. Let’s go!”

Working hard to keep up, Jeremy soon becomes annoyed that Rog doesn’t stop at trail intersections to check the map. Seeing Rog speeding away along one sketchy-looking route, he yells, “Hey! Stop and let me check the damn map!”

Rog doesn’t stop, so he takes out the whistle he’d brought along in case they encountered a bear and blows three shrill blasts. After a few minutes, Rog comes zipping back. “What?”

“Listen, I can’t even find this intersection on the map. I think we took a wrong turn about an hour ago.”

“Yeah? Let me see.” Rog grabs the map. “Oh, man, you’re right. We should have crossed that creek instead of taking the trail up the valley.”

“This is really going to screw up my arrangement with Amy. She was going to pick us up at 7.”

“No, we can still do it. Look, we don’t have to go back to the creek. We can take this cutline over the hill , cross the creek at the bottom and keep following the cutline until it intersects with the trail.”

“I don’t know. It looks pretty choked with alder.”

“Where’s your sense of adventure? Off-trail’s more fun. And you wouldn’t want to keep Amy waiting.”

The ascent of the hill on the cutline is hellish, steep and punishing as the supple boughs whip their faces when they can make any speed, and tangle in their spokes. The descent into a boggy, heavily-forested drainage is worse, the cutline a quagmire of mud and sharp rocks.

When they don’t find the expected creek, they follow the cutline over the next height of land, although Jeremy’s compass indicates they’re veering sharply off their intended route. His GPS isn’t picking anything up; the forest canopy is too dense.

Four hours later, Rog flings his bike to the ground and declares, “I’ve had enough. Let’s make camp.”

“I thought we were aiming for the top of that bald hill so I could get a GPS reading.”

“You know it’ll show we’re miles from anywhere.” Rog takes out a large folding knife and starts sawing branches off the spruce trees. “Why don’t you gather some firewood?”

“Why don’t you stop for a damn minute and listen! Amy will be waiting. We’re not camping out.”

“Don’t you have an emergency protocol, Jeremy? 24 hours grace time before she calls out Search and Rescue? It’s stupid to keep going after dark.”

“I’ve got a headlamp.”

“Well, I don’t.”

“You’ve got that stupid saw and you don’t have a headlamp? I don’t want to spend the night out. I ate the last of my gorp an hour ago.”

“Oh, I’ve got food. I’ve got soup and pasta and my flint. I’ll get a fire going in no time.”

Jeremy leans his bike against a tree and sinks down cross-legged, resting his chin on one hand. This impromptu campout is no accident, he realizes.  And he wonders what else Rog has in his paniers.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story is in honour of the MS Bike Tour which was held in our area today, with our place – Black Cat Guest Ranch – providing soup for over 250 people.

Any resemblance to people who might be related to me and also mountain bike riders is purely coincidental.