COLD HEAD WINDS,
HOT CHILI AND DREAMS OF DIRK
A bazillion years ago, Petrified Forest was a floodplain crossed by streams with tall conifer trees lining the banks. Crocodile-like reptiles, giant amphibians and small dinosaurs prowled through the ferns. Last weekend, a pack of five Rez Dogs – Chuck Van Drunen, Andy “Bobcat” Stravers, Chad “the Ghost” Meekof, Brian Leddy and Bob "Rosewarrior" Rosebrough - joined the hunt. A report:
1. “EVIL ALWAYS FINDS A WAY”. In the morning, about ten miles from the start, as the pack was barreling down I-40, Chuck, who was riding shotgun, sent a prank text to Bob who was driving. The text read, “Hey this is dirk…I’ll meet you guys @ the visitors center.” Dirk “the Hollebeast” Hollebeek of course is the Rez Dog roadie who poaches mountain bike races and constantly tries to lure sweet, innocent, naïve dirt bikers over to the dark side. Bob passed his cell phone to the guys in the back seat and Bobcat, after looking at the text, stoically remarked: “Evil always finds a way.” This was not the first or last of Chuck’s obsession last weekend with Dirk (who was reportedly spending Thanksgiving in Phoenix with his family), but more on that later.
2. 80 HARD, COLD MILES. In his sales pitch, Chuck billed this road ride – starting at Painted Desert, through Petrified Forest, on to Holbrook for lunch, and then back - as an 80 miler, but it quickly became apparent that to do the whole route would be a 100 miler finishing with a long uphill grind into a bone cold headwind - in the dark. In other words, a suffer-fest of epic proportions. Bob – a charter member of the Old Guys Who Get Fat in the Winter Club – opted for a shorter 60 mile version and retrieved the truck to pick up the other dogs at the top of the Agate Bridge Hill in the heart of the Park just before dusk. The Ghost, Brian, Bobcat and Chuck had 80 hard, cold, windy road miles in their legs by that point.
3. COVERED IN CHILI AND FILLED WITH CHILI. You can say what you want about Chuck, but you have the give the guy credit . . . you can always count on the fact that when he plans a trip there is going to be some good eating. This time Chuck (with an assist by Bobcat) led us to a funky, family Mexican food restaurant just past the railroad tracks in Holbrook. Rez Dogs are known to devour huge amounts of chili and we got all we could handle at Joe and Aggie’s Cafe. Chuck led the pack by ordering a burrito covered by red and green chili and filled with red and green chili. Yeah, you heard me right: a huge burrito that was covered with chili and filled with chili. Nothing else but a tortilla, a little cheese and a mound of chili almost the size of the lenses on Brian’s big camera!!! Chuck topped it off with a chili relleno wrapped in an egg instead of batter. Check out Bobcat’s cell phone photo of Chuck at lunch.
4. DIRK, DIRK AND MORE DIRK. Any time Chuck is on pavement or within even a half mile of pavement, there are only three things on his mind: Dirk, Dirk and more Dirk. Before sending his faux Dirk text, Chuck entertained the pack with a running commentary that started with an account of Dirk’s recent ride with Paul Barry (“Dirk was well behaved - for the most part. One shot is all you get with Dirk. Paul better know that Dirk won’t behave a second time.”), the Care 66 ride (“Dirk turned a causal, charity ride into the hardest race of the year! It wasn’t just a race it was a series of races!! It was a stage race!!!”), and speculation that Dirk would appear unannounced at any moment on his way back from Phoenix to poach the ride and punish us with fresh legs. The only absent dog who got an honorable mention from Chuck was Peter who recently told Chuck about a dog-free loop he had done on fresh pavement west of Vanderwagen. (The Ghost, from the peanut gallery in the back seat, “Any sheep?”)
CONCLUDING QUESTIONS: Was Joe and Aggie’s chili really that hot or was Chuck red-faced-glassy-eyed-sweat-beaded-hair-straight-up because he actually convinced himself that Dirk might appear - out of thin air - and poach the ride going back? And when is Chuck going to start charging Dirk rent for living full time inside his head? Just asking.