On a gorgeous summer day recently, I joined a group ride for a trek on class-4 roads, rail trails and asphalt, journeying to a local strawberry festival at a farm up in the hills of a nearby town. I rode my MTB for this one.
This was an eventful ride right from the start, and not at all in a good way. On the way out of town, we passed by a house that was situated close to the road. A dog came sprinting out of nowhere, barking at one of our group. Suddenly, from up ahead around a blind corner, a car appeared. The result was a collision that ended in the dog’s death, right in front of us.
The owners were understandably shaken and mortified. A few of our group helped move the dog’s body off the road. I stood up ahead to signal cars while they did that and did their best to console the heartbroken owners. Eventually, we moved on. A couple of our riders returned the next day with flowers.
It took a while to shake that off, but exercise is good for such things. We journeyed onward, putting miles behind us and looking forward.
The pace of the group was pretty slow, overall, with a lot of stops. At one point we hit asphalt and I couldn’t help myself; I had to drop the hammer and stretch out for a bit. One other guy came with me. We burned up a couple of miles and then pulled off to wait for the rest, next to a morbidly appropriate roadside cemetery.
That effort would eventually catch up with me, as the ride finished on a legit Category 4 climb, which I ultimately had very little left in the tank for. I did eventually make it up, but it was brutal.
Luckily there were strawberries, hamburgers and live music waiting for us at the festival. A pleasant end to a tumultuous ride.