Monday, January 14, 2019

The Naked Indian Ride

I met Karlos Bernart way back... forever ago now... when he signed up for the inaugural TNGA. We had more back and forth communication than most of the other riders, and it was great because we were doing a lot of the same kinds of things and had a good bit in common. He was well ahead of me though, at that time hosting three endurance events in and around Central Florida. The biggest were the CFiTT and Huracan, which I've since ridden. But he also hosted a "gateway" ride called the Naked Indian Ride which I'd never managed to actually make it down for. Well, finally this past weekend I did.

Why a gateway ride? Well, the ride is like a shrunk down Huracan. Something that the average decently tough and resourceful mountain biker can do, not the full on multi-day Adventure, but enough that you get the idea and can decide if something bigger is for you.

Why "Naked Indain". Well, that's his nickname. For the record, I've never actually seen him naked, though I can confirm his Native American heritage.

I headed down Saturday after moving Isabel back into the dorm and having lunch with her and Sophie. The drive down was pleasant except that good radio stations are tough to find south of Atlanta, and my car stereo is so old that I can't plug in my iPhone to it in any way. I had no choice but to blast tinny rock music through it's internal speakers all the way down, and though it wasn't ideal, it definitely got the job done.

Florida Welcomes You

I saw two really weird things on the way down.

First, all through south Georgia, there must have been some seriously high winds recently, because billboards were knocked down left and right. And any little metal building near the road was shredded. Some trees were snapped off too, but it didn't look like tornado damage proper. Just super high winds.

The second was a trailer a guy was pulling that said: "Hunters in Christ's Kingdom. Nothing says I love you like a blood trail." And the word blood was pink and dripping. I'm sure it means something like: "Verily God demonstrates his love by providing this bountiful game to harvest." But man, what an awkward way to put it!

I was planning on camping in the Ocala and driving in to DeLand the next morning, but after a couple of texts (not while driving, of course), Karlos offered to let me camp in his backyard, and I wasn't going to pass that up. I was also arriving right around dinner time, so we decided to get some dinner too.

He and Edith greeted me with hugs at the door. Their grandson Uriah is staying with them, and we became buddies pretty quickly too. His son Kailin (who's name I have misspelled before, and hope I have right this time) was also there, is now 10 years older. He was a kid last time I saw him, but now he's like a foot taller than me. We grabbed some dinner at Chili's, the same one that we'd all eaten at before some other ride way back, and Karlos hooked me up with some swag from his garage - a Huracan sticker and patches for the CFiTT and Huracan. The sticker was the last one. The very last one he had. Good, good fortune.

I ended up crashing on the couch rather than actually pitching a tent, but I did sleep in my bag, so it kind-of counts as camping.

Next morning, bright and early, we headed over to Trilogy Coffee in DeLand for the start.

Trilogy Coffee

While everyone was assembling in the lot, I spun a few laps around the downtown area checking out some of the cool stuff I'd seen on the drive in.

DeLand City Hall Athens Theatre Hotel Putnam Cool Sculpture

There is no shortage of art and architecture in DeLand. It looked like there were a dozen restaurants nearby too. Not to mention the coffee shop.

Karlos had looked a little stressed out the night before, but that morning he was much the way I remembered him - making jokes and even being moderately silly. Though he did, overall seem about 5 to 10 percent more mature, all the way around. He also looked about 10 to 15 percent more fit than the last time I'd seen him. Just getting more fit as he gets older. I hope that happens to me.

Edith was still there at that point, but she had to leave soon with her friend to go run some wild errands. I wasn't sure if I'd see her later or not, and I'd forgotten to get a photo of them the night before, so I took the opportunity.

Karlos and Edith


I wanted some snacks for the ride, and Trilogy had only pastries. Delicious pastries, to be sure but not the kind I could carry with me. The local gas station had some perfect little brownies, so I grabbed a couple of those. I also had a surprisingly friendly chat with a couple of slightly drunk homeless guys who were curious about my bike and how long of a ride I was doing.

Moments later we assembled for a quick photo.

Assembled Riders

And moments after that we rolled out.

Roll Out

Almost the second we started rolling, two riders pulled on to the back of the group. They'd started at some other point on the loop near their house earlier that day and caught us exactly on time as we rode out of Trilogy.

The first almost half of the ride was on various greenways. We did hit some gravel roads in the first few miles, and some trail through Lake Beresford Park, which I recognized from the CFiTT. But it was definitely heavy on pavement.

A lot of greenway work has been done over that past 5 years though. Way back, we rode down the gravel to one side of those train tracks.

Bridge Over the Train Tracks

Now there's greenway on either side, and a massive bridge crossing the tracks.

Riders on Train Bridge

Karlos' events have been growing and growing. He's also been getting into doing guided tours. As his events grew, it eventually became impossible to keep them underground. The routes used to contain all kinds of dubiously legal connector trails. Now, they're 100% legal, and he has a stack of permits to renew every year. Karlos Calrissian. It made me smile thinking about that. The NI ride is still pretty well underground, but even a lot of it's pirate miles have been replaced with greenways that were eventually built through the same corridor as the old routes.

We arrived at our first rest stop about 30 minutes ahead of schedule: the Central 28 Beer Company.

Central 28 Beer Company

It's a brewery...


...but it's just on the corner of some random building in an industrial park. It looked all underground from the outside, but inside it had a really friendly vibe and it looked like a popular place.

Hanging out at Central 28

Confirming their friendliness, Karlos had called ahead when he realized we were ahead of schedule, and they actually opened early for us!

Fireball Fiasco aside, I don't drink, so I was a little out of place at a brewery. Karlos announced that anyone who didn't have a beer owed him 27 push-ups. Not sure why exactly 27, but I didn't argue. And, I was prepared to give him his pushups, until I discovered a loophole.

The loophole:

The Loophole

Ha, ha! No push-ups today! Take that!

I did feel a little bad drinking it though. Crafting beer is such a process, and the flavor and character derives naturally from the obsessively sourced ingredients and the complexity and nuances of the process. Soda is just real quick mix some crap that probably tastes good together. Drinking it there had that chicken nuggets at a steakhouse feel.

While milling around outside, I saw this little Brown Anole also milling around outside.

Brown Anole

They don't have these in Georgia, just the green ones. The brown ones are like twice as fast, and it's tough to get a picture of them because they run away so quickly. I got lucky though. This little guy was pretty fearless.

And... back on the bike!

More greenway.

Greenway Roll - Canopy

And yet more greenway.

Greenway Roll - Prairie

And there were Sandhill Cranes at the next gas station stop.

Sandhill Cranes

We were right about at the halfway point there, so we stopped for like 30 minutes.

Gas Station Stop

The next section was allegedly a lot tougher and there were no additional stops planned.

Got it. Let's go...

Not immediately, but pretty soon, we were back on dirt. The section of road was a little dubious though. Private, gated neighborhood. Presumably gated because it was dirt and they wanted to minimize traffic and thus maintenance. Karlos had allegedly ridden there for 15 years with no hassles though, and was certain there would be none today. That is not my luck though, so I warned him about my luck.

And, in true form...

Hassle number one was a new fence with a gate.

A quick examination of the gate revealed that the guy who installed it may have been drunk. There was a padlock locking together two pieces of metal that didn't actually keep the gate closed. You could still just push it open. Maybe it was just there just to confuse anyone else who was also drunk. Like, if you're sober enough to figure this out, then you are welcome through the gate.

Hassle number two was another fence, clearly intended to keep out ATV's.

Hassle number three was a recycled highway barrier blockade.

The times, they are a-changin'. This was the 13th annual Naked Indian Ride, and it seemed appropriate that we'd run into some bad luck on the 13th try.

The people we saw were friendly though. No hassles from any of them.

We eventually hit some officially rideable dirt on McCracken and Old Enterprise Roads. Plenty of Phil McCracken jokes. There was also a side road named Wild Wind, and there were jokes about being at the corner of McCracken and Wild Wind. Jokes aside though, that part of the route was exactly what I'd hoped we'd eventually run into: Cat 2 sand.

Only 3 riders (of like 30) managed to ride the whole way out. Everybody else picked the wrong side or got stopped by somebody else trying to switch sides.

Ahh, unrideable Florida sand. The experience was complete.

After that, we hit one more section of fun dirt near some frontage road, but then it was roads and greenways back to DeLand.

I realized somewhere in there that though we've done each other's events, and just hung out a bunch, me and Karlos had never actually done a complete ride together.

The Naked Indian

The closest we'd come was him catching me on Maytown Road during the last CFiTT that I did and riding together for 5 or 10 miles.

So, that actually seemed like another accomplishment.

A few minutes after pulling back into the Trilogy lot, Edith and Uriah showed up with a trunk full of coolers. The coolers, in turn, were full of cold beverages, and pie.


Key Lime Pie

Key Lime to be precise. Edith used to run a bakery or something, has wicked pie skills, and she'd made them while we were out riding.

Not just the icing on the cake... It was icing, and PIE, on the cake!

Man, it was good. Even better because I wasn't expecting it.

Little by little, everybody got changed and said their goodbyes. Pink Floyd's "Dogs" was emanating from the shop next door as I got changed, right at my favorite guitar solo. So weird. Such an obscure song, but one of my favorites.

Everybody else took off, but Edith and Karlos took me up on a dinner offer, and we ate at Halfwall just down the street. I had a burger and they had some wings. The burger was well seasoned and delicious, and their fries were slightly battered and also delicious. It's making me hungry now, thinking about it. Uriah was impressively well behaved for only being 2.5 years old. He's so cute. He says "yup" for yes and he calls Edith and Carlos "GG" and "Pop Pop". The Saints vs. Eagles playoff game was on the tele and the game was getting interesting so I kept getting distracted by it. Damn you football! Stop grabbing my attention when I'm trying to spend time with people.

We had a little more fun with the kid on the way back to the car. He'd been interested in a fountain one the way over so we took him by it on the way back, and Karlos walked up and down the stairs with him at the back of the old court house. He also just kind-of learned to jump, so we were all jumping with him. They're really good grandparents, and they don't just spoil him. He's definitely a little juggernaut, but he's apparently gotten in much better shape since he's been with them. Commendable grand-parenting, right there.

One final thing, before I left town... Edith was pointing out the old jail, behind some building at the edge of the lot. Apparently, that jail's claim to fame is that Aileen Wuornos was held there during her murder trial. Yikes! Well, I guess that makes sense though. If a jail is going to be famous for something, it would have to be something pretty terrible.

And that was it. The drive back to the ATL went smoothly. I didn't get sleepy at all, and I got back in great time - just after midnight. Even got good sleep last night and woke up at a decent hour today, well rested.

So, I've now done all of the classic Singletrack Samurai events. The Tallahasse Tango and Death Loops are more recent additions, so I'll have to add them to my list, and get around to them eventually, but for now I'm pretty satisfied.

Thanks again for the hospitality guys. See you again soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment