So Long, Mr Dingman

It’s the end of an era.  While our opportunities to ride together seemed to become fewer and farther between over the last year or so, I always knew the days I rode with Shawn would be just a little more fun than most others.  But, alas, all things do in fact come to an end.  Ok.  It might not be completely coming to an end, but with Mr Dingman moving away for bigger and better things (new riding adventures included), I’m left with a little bit of sadness and emptiness in my riding soul.

 

But, it wasn’t over this last weekend yet, so let’s talk about that!!

 

As a farewell ride, it was mutually agreed upon by the powers that be, that we should put on the Fall Ball 2017 ride in Shawn’s honor.  Boy did we!

 

Sunday morning, a bunch of gravel starved crazies showed up at Cycle A ready to ride around the hills above Jacksonville.  Most were on mtb’s.  Some were on cx bikes.  It didn’t matter as long as everyone was on something with 2 wheels that could go up some steep mountains!

 

The group I was with didn’t waste any time getting to the hills either as we headed straight up the Britt Trails to Cady Road and on to Poorman.  From there, it was the nasty climb known as Griffin Lane.  Thankfully, it still had enough of whatever that dust suppression stuff is called stuck to it that we may as well have been riding up pavement.

 

The leaves have definitely started changing color. It was a crisp morning made warm by the struggle to stay upright while going up one of the steeper roads around the Valley. Here, Shawn is pulling ahead and showing how it’s supposed to be done.

 

Jacob’s group took an alternate route to Griffin Lane, but we managed to cross paths right at the top. Jacob was so enthusiastic about what was waiting ahead of us that he apparently felt the need to partially strip and do his best pro wrestler impression. Yeah Brotherrrrr….

 

We weren’t quite done with the first big climb yet though. We had a little more as we cut across to Sterling Creek Road with Destry and Marty leading the way.

 

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Not too hot. Not too cold.

 

After a VERY brief 1/2 mile descent, we started back up the gravel road that leads to the East Applegate Ridge Trailhead. While we weren’t in the presence of the one and only Eugene for long, we did have the brief pleasure of conversing with the dapper Englishman before he, and his big tires, left us on the trail!

 

This was my second time riding the cx bike on the fairly new, and very bumpy trail.  It was the only time on the whole ride I wished I’d had my mtb.  Between my narrow tires being inflated to just below max pressure to avoid pinch flats, and my poor bike handling skills, my wrists felt like, well, like they weren’t attached to my arms anymore by the time I reached the end of the trail.  Still fun though!

 

It’s hard not to stop and take at least one picture when the views look like this. Destry and Jared were blazing the trail on the proper bikes for the job.

 

One last Eugene siting!! Yeah, Dude!

 

Well, hello Tim! Not sure what Sheri was doing back there. Maybe that’s where she got the massive bruise on her leg that she beast-moded her way through the rest of the ride with?? Dunno. But, she is a beast in the nicest sense of the word. Plus, she makes awesome brownies.

 

After crossing Hwy 238 at the bottom of the trail, we started the LOOOONNNNGGG climb up Forest Creek Road, and the clear cut at the upper end of it, that would add 2400 feet or so over the next 8ish miles. That may not sound like much, but along with some 4 and 5% stretches, there were plenty between 12 and 22%.  Oof!

 

The crew still feeling chipper as we roll up Forest Creek. The smiles were about to fade.

 

Yes, the smiles faded. But, they returned when we hit the top of the clear cut. Mostly out of joy at the fact we had all survived the monster climb of the day!

 

From that point, everything was a cake….ride?  Ok.  Maybe not.  We still had a couple climbs ahead of us.

 

Up we go again!

 

 

And, FINALLY!! We were just about done with all the up. All we had was the last little bit to the top of the Motorcycle Riders Association land above Forest Park and then it was all downhill back to Jville.

 

All in all, it truly was an awesome day.  Close to 40 miles.  Almost 7000′ of elevation gain.  A bunch of the best people a guy could ask to ride with.  Beautiful weather.  Gorgeous scenery.  What else is there??

 

Oh yeah.  I guess I could say a few more words about Shawny-boy.

 

This guy. I know we will ride together more in the future, but jeez I’m gonna miss him. We’ve been through nearly LITERAL Hell together many times. Whether it was our 2 failed attempts at the Everest Challenge (Yeah, I know. We should have waited for a sunny day), or the time we shuttled cars back over Bear Camp Road on our bikes and I forgot my bike shoes so he wore his sandals and I wore his shoes. Our 2 times doing the Salmon River Loop, TUC 2x, the 150 mile K-Falls ride, Castle Crags torture test, Redding torture test, BLAH BLAH BLAH torture test. I could go on and on.  It really does seem like we’ve been through Hell together and I’d do it all over again. Thanks for all the fun (pain), becoming one of my best friends, and for being an awesome dude.  Good luck, brother.

 

 

Aaron Mock

Local cyclist, crazy mofo, and good-natured masochist, Aaron Mock, is a Team Cycle Analysis rider with a penchant for taking the road less traveled. Sometimes, that isn’t the best choice. Follow his weekly blog series for the latest on his never-ending escapades and exploits!

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