Monday, August 27, 2007

Blood Thirsty Hornet Ride

It is 5:15am on Saturday morning, the sun won’t be up for another two hours. Everything is ready for the day except the cooler. I pack it up, and walk out the door to my apartment into the upstairs foyer. The door to my neighbor’s apartment upstairs is cracked and I hear quick footsteps back and forth.

I have my backpack with my shoes and clothes on my back as I am carrying my bag of essentials and the cooler. As I approach the bottom of the steps I notice glass all over the floor of the downstairs foyer. I see that one of the small diamond shaped windows in the door has been busted out. I set the cooler and the bag down so I can open the door and judo chop anyone who might be waiting outside. I fling open the door like a swat team headed into a meth lab and see two pools of blood reflecting back towards me. Not enormously large but enough to bring alarm and wonder where the bleeder is now. I see a crumpled dollar bill on the ledge of the steps and now know who the culprit is. Why he had to break the pane to get inside I am not sure as we have a push key combination lock on the outside of the door.

A couple of weeks back, I had left early to go mountain biking on a Sunday morning and found $15 - $20 in crumpled ones and fives on the floor downstairs. When I later questioned my neighbor about the money, he just explained that the Liberty Tap Room was awesome.

So I load my bags into my car and head back up for the bike, I am concerned about leaving Kristin and I am running late for the ride. I wonder if my neighbor is bleeding to death in the apartment, I figure the world would be better off if he is.

As I drive north up 25 headed into the mountains, I text Kristin to let her know what I have found and tell her not to go outside unless she can see people around. I meet up with Jody, Erinna, Eric and Mike to start our ride up Laurel Mountain.
As we are riding up 1206 headed to Laurel, we meet up with Dave from Atlanta who I had never met before. He declared “his quickest getting ready ever” and we were spinning up the gravel road.

When we get to the meeting log, Eric declares that he got stung twice by hornets. The whelps look painful. After another mile, Mike and Jody are ahead of me and climbing hard when all of the sudden I see Jody grab his bike on a techy section and start running like a madman. I almost yell out to him because I think he is going to break his ankle on the rocks. Then I see what he is running from, a swarm of hundreds of hornets. He got nailed a few times. I walk back to Eric, Dave and Erinna and tell them of the swarm. Our group is now split with Mike and Jody ahead of the swarm.

Eric and I walk up toward the nest to scout out an alternate route when Eric points out a small path through the 40 degree slope off the trail. I go back and grab my bike and head toward the alternate trail. I take the first step down the slope to get around the nest when the dirt under my feet breaks away and I see that I have disturbed another nest and hundreds of the not-quite-deadly beasts come pouring out of the ground. I take off running with my bike in hand like a crack dealer running from the cops. I trip and toss the bike, almost breaking my thumb on the ground.

We come up with an alternate route and meeting place for Jody and Mike to meet us and continue on with our ride. I lead the descent for a bit but feel I am slowing Eric so he takes off with me in tow. Eric is fast and flying down Laurel, I am way beyond the edge of control trying to keep up. We both roll over the crack-in-the rock section for the first time in our lives and keep flying. I pull an outside line to correct a mistake when I realize I am not going to correct. I have to bail hard to keep from flying off the edge. As I dig into the side slope off the trail, I only have one thought, hornets.

Luckily I don’t crash into a nest but realize I better not try and keep pace with Eric anymore. Headed up to Slate Rock was fun and tough climbing. The descent coming down was much more controlled and therefore less deserving of a description. Great trails and friends make for a great day.

Driving back I have almost completely forgotten the “Friday the 13th” episode I was living earlier until I pull up to the house and see some stranger sitting on my front steps. I walk up to the steps and see that none of the now dried blood has been cleaned up and there is a stranger with a large scar on his hand sitting on my steps drinking a miller light out of the can and smoking cigarettes.

I walk up and he says “Been Mountain Biking today?” I respond “Are you going to clean this up?” He says “What, are you getting tough with me?” I said “No, I am just wondering how you can sit out here and not have cleaned this up, I have a girlfriend and she doesn’t want to see this shit.”

The argument goes on for a minute and I walk upstairs livid, more angry than I have been in a long time. I walk in and Kristin has “the look” on her face that says it all. She got the “sob story” from the strange man on the steps who is staying with my even stranger neighbor.

He is my neighbor’s brother, who has been here since Thursday and he got “locked out” when they were coming back from the bars. He supposedly came back from the bar via cab (we live downtown) and didn’t have money (wonder where that went) so he needed to get inside and get money. He didn’t know the combination (extremely complicated three button push system) so he was “knocking” on the glass when the pane “just broke” and he was bleeding everywhere. They told Kristin “We are thinking about suing the owners.”

I walk back outside to get my bike as the brother is headed up the stairs. Hoping to keep this at a bare minimum I say “Sorry about my attitude but I am not having a good day, please just clean the mess up.” Brother “Well that is just no way to approach someone.” I walk past get my bike and head up to put it in the laundry room upstairs.

When I get to the laundry room, Bro and Bro come out. My neighbor says “What the hell is wrong with you?” I said “there is blood all over the place and I want it cleaned up.” Neighbor “I don’t complain when you bring your bike up here and get mud all over the place, what about the table that has been outside?” (The camping table is sitting next to the trash) I couldn’t deal with their rationality anymore, pushed my way by them and slammed my door in their faces.


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