I’d like to take a moment to talk about friends. I don’t have many; I’m rather antisocial. The ones I do have are the types of guys that I’d bet my life on. It’s not that I think that anyone of them would take my place in a Mexican prison. It’s more like I’d bet my life that I could predict how they’d react to most situations with a 95% success rate. My closest friends (other than my wife) are my riding buddies. Brad, Bryce and I all used to work together, Bryce and Brad still do. We worked closely with each other for about 10 years before I took a job elsewhere. As a result, we spent more time with each other than we did with our significant others. For a while we spent 8 to 14 hours a day during the week with each other plus about every other weekend camping and riding. Paul is married to my wife’s cousin and as a result we find ourselves spending a lot of time together also.
Because we know each other so well we can get on each other’s nerves. In fact, at times, we are downright brutal to each other. For example, lately, we’ve all been giving Brad endless amounts of crap (he does deserve most of it). So much in fact that it was a topic that came up recently when I had lunch with Bryce. We surmised that we should probably back off a bit or we were really going to make him mad. We both agreed to hold back for a while. However, it wasn’t soon enough. Well actually the mistake was that we didn’t inform Paul of our revelation. Evidently, the next day Paul pushed him over the edge. We still don’t now any details, bit in retrospect, I probably stepped over the line a couple of times myself. However, being the insensitive guys we are, this happens all too often. Luckily we’re here for each other, allowing us to avoid doing this to our significant others. Not to sound sexist or anything but, being guys, we get over these pretty quickly. Also, we don’t use it as ammunition for a later battle. Anyway, we apologized and life continued, as it should. It’s a visious circle, but we must do this to ourselves.
We all have similar traits such as being: arrogant, cocky, and incredibly intelligent. Our favorite pastimes are to drink beer, make fun of each other and argue the same side of an argument (of course, most the time, not realizing we’re arguing the same side). So what’s this have to do with the trail? While knowing each other so well occasionally gets in the way in our personal life, it really helps when we’re riding. For example, let’s look at some of the “predictable” behaviors of each of us:
On the trail, Brad will lead. This is mostly because we can’t keep up with him. When he’s in the lead we will run up any/every hill climb he can find. We will take at least three wrong turns, each one leading to a shorter and easier route – NOT! If there is snow anywhere we will be in it. We will not make it back before dark and at least one of us will not have a working headlight.
Bryce will be almost immediately behind Brad. No matter what the conditions Bryce will end the day with a 1/4″ thick dirt beard. Chances are he will disappear at some point during the day. In this case he will have either have stopped to take a nap, gotten tired of beating his body bloody and headed back to camp, or found a pack of folks willing to share beer and decided to wait for us.
Paul will add adventure to any trip. He will not be jetted properly. He will attract any/every cop in a 200-mile radius. He will crash on every down-hill-right-hand-turn. He will go anywhere Brad will lead him. He will continually ride while completely out of control providing lots of entertainment for anyone following him.
Last but not least – Me
I will ride last in the pack. This is so I can watch Paul and also rest as needed. I will crash because of riding too far or fast on a flat tire. I will whine, wheeze and on occasion puke. I will refuse to climb any hill that requires coming back down. I will get lost or fall behind requiring someone to come look for me. I will carry more food, water, and tools than we need for the entire pack of riders. In any emergency situation, my first priority is to get pictures.
Knowing these habits makes for a much more pleasurable riding experience. For example, if you’re riding side-by-side with Paul, back off a little if you’re on the outside heading into a down-hill-right. Otherwise, he’ll take you out. If Bryce disappears, don’t waste too much time looking for him. Chances are, one way or another, he found a beer.
If it’s dark and cold and you know camp is to the right and Brad insists it’s to the left, go with your gut and leave him if you need to. If I disappear, chances are I got a flat and have gone down…