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Day 01 Objectives & Points of Interest

  1. Start riding (maybe the most important objective of today’s ride).
  2. Stick together (our group was huge, and though the mileage was not monumental, it was of the utmost importance that we all rode and arrived together).
  3. Swim.
  4. Swim.
  5. Swim.
  6. Do the first-day-ride-carousel. [The FDRC is when you rotate through all your fellow riders to catch up and maybe learn something about each other. It’s essentially team building.]
  7. Find Melisa Jessee’s family road.
  8. Realize that we need toilet paper, then find a place to procure said toilet paper.

The Legend of Wiley Jeb: Vol. I

As told by locals to Kyle von Hoetzendorff

Wiley Jeb had been around the block by the time he landed in Hayfork, having holed in just about every cauldron, pot, bath, tub, wash, bucket, pond, lake, and eddy across this great land. During his soaking crusade America had climbed out of the Great Depression and began warring with the Axis powers. Nationalism and fear was rampant, and in the MSOJ there was an increased level of suspicion—and unknown vagrants with deep, leathery tans and no appreciable means were particularly scrutinized. Had Jeb been the type, he could have skirted town and made off for the deep woods and the glorious swimming holes therein without ruffling any feathers, but quiet wasn’t his style. While the years of casual bathing may have soothed his soul they did little to dull his effervescent New York stock man personality. It didn’t matter that instead of trading railroad shares he was sharing bits of cheese and tobacco with other hobos aboard empty cattle cars: there is no denying it, he was a boisterous and vivacious character. Unfortunately, a rumor was running around at the time that the Germans had trained their spies to act like obnoxious buffoons in order to mask any cultural missteps. Sleight of hand at its most rudimentary, their idea being that Americans wouldn’t notice the nuance if they were steamrolled by the obvious.

With this in mind, a couple of Hayfork hayseeds decided to work Wiley Jeb over one night. He’d spent the better part of the day enjoying a few too many whiskeys at the local saloon, having come across a dead man’s wallet a few days prior. He’d been telling stories, espousing the healing properties of swimming holes and, it could be argued, slightly admonishing the rural saps for not giving up on their futile labors in order to take up their own humble quest for hydrophilic nirvana.

"Jeb just couldn’t see why a man would find a few splashes of water on one's face sufficient when there was a whole country of swimming and floating to be enjoyed.”

Now whether these farmers believed Jeb to be a Nazi or whether they simply tired of his blabbering, the history books are of no help. What we do know is that the next morning a local spinster by the name of Ma Elder found him slumped in her horse corral, eyes swollen like two ripe plums, lips split like a burst sausage. She wasn’t normally interested in helping tramps, but there was something to this one. Could have been his tan, or maybe the way the sun poured in on him through a hole in the eaves, or maybe she was just lonesome. She never said, but over the next week she nursed Jeb back to health.

Now Ma Elder may have been aged, but many said she was still a comely woman, and well established: her grandfather was one of the few to strike it rich during the first rush on the gold fields and actually hold on to his money. He’d bought a ranch and raised his family, three sons: Tom, Theodore, and Lil’ John. Sadly, it was as if her grandfather had spent all of his luck panning for nuggets, for his family did not fare well. Tom and his wife Edna passed in a buggy accident when a timber rattler sunning itself on the far bank of a river spooked the horses. Edna, a notoriously voluptuous woman, landed on Tom and crushing him beneath her, only to find her own arms broken to such an extent that she was unable to raise herself out of the water. They both drowned in a mere two feet of water.

Lil’ John’s fate wasn’t much better. He and Theodore had run off to fight the huns in the first world war, but Lil’ John didn’t even make it to Europe. The bolt of his carbine malfunctioned during a training exercise, redirecting the bullet backwards and skewering him through the eye. He died quickly in a North Carolina marsh.

Theodore made it through the war, but the gas and torment of the trenches left him a changed man. And though he did return to marry his betrothed, Ma Elder’s mother Janice, he died soon after the nuptials when he got it into his head that he was a pigeon and threw himself from the top of the local quarry. This was almost too much for Janice and, now being with child, she determined to never be dependent on another man. Thusly Ma Elder was brought up, and she came to distrust and deplore the cruder sex. But as we’ve noted Wiley Jeb was not your average character, and as soon as he could speak again he told her of his travels, the floating and lounging, the easy days and long mornings.

Ma Elder had been courted by all manner of bootstrapping go-getters, but here was a man with no moxie at all, a man whose sole ambition was relaxation. A man completely content to wile away his years in the comforting embrace of a natural pool of water. She was smitten. But it wasn’t meant to be.

"No sir, Jeb couldn’t trade in his quest for a swimming hole Xanadu, not when he was this close. He could feel it.”

So not more than a fortnight after he’d been found, Jeb stole away in the night. He knew Ma Elder couldn’t bear to watch him leave, she’d have found some way to block his way. But the call of the swimming holes was too much. Now Jeb wasn’t heartless: on his way out of town it is said that he carved a heart “WJ+ME” into a stately oak.22The tree would removed some years later when the road out of Hayfork was paved.

As for Ma Elder, she went crazy. Lived out her years plucking chickens, slowly and methodically, one feather at a time. She never bathed and couldn’t stand the sight of any body of water in which one could be submersed. Her foe, her adversary, the bewitching cauldrons that took the only man she ever cared for.

Three and a half minutes after this photo was taken, between Mike's house and downtown Hayfork (which is about 400 yards), we figured out that not all of us had come prepared with toilet paper, aka TP, aka Mountain Money, aka ass wipes. Thankfully, Melisa said we could stop by her mom's place and pick up a few rolls. Turned out to be quilted and two-ply. Who says we don't plan for the future?
We are all dreamers, especially in this crew. I can't be sure exactly what it is Moi is dreaming about. Maybe becoming the first Mexican-American NASCAR Champ? I could see that—I'd love to be there just to see him cackle and float his brain in the pool of champagne that would most certainly be waiting for him after his win. Or maybe he just misses driving his van?
"Oh this? Yeah, its nice right?" ~ Reese. DYK Reese almost didn't come on this trip, in fact we had to coax/pressure her into making the trip. She was worried about work, worried about her equipment, worried, worried, worried. In the end she succumbed to peer pressure. I swear if it wasn't for peer pressure we'd still be picking ticks out of each other's hair 30 feet up in a canopy somewhere near the edge of the rift valley.

The Climb Out of Hayfork

Here Jenn and I are taking part in the FDRC. You know what I learned? That her dessert business, Rawdacious, just got picked up by Portland's local super market chain New Seasons. This is a pretty big deal, especially when you consider that Portland is the only major city where Whole Foods isn't the leading progressive supermarket, due in a large part to New Seasons. Anyway our whole crew was pretty excited for Jenn. Proof positive that that first day carousel is critically important. We even forgave her for not bringing any cakes on the trip.
It's important to practice mutual respect and solidarity when riding with friends. Moi and I have been through a lot this summer, and our casual but meaningful hand clasp pyramid speaks volumes for our fully-realized admiration for one another.
Our crew rolls deep. Like real deep.
Brian employed the "30 Minutes or it's Free," buildout on his bike. And for the most part it worked great—plus his chest and arms looked really good by the end of the trip. But it'd be silly to think that a guy of his acumen and prescience wouldn't have seen that coming.
Bo Thunell: dirt road devil and cosmic journeyman.
Mike's Hawaiian shirt says it all. In case it's not loud enough for you, it's saying, "I like holin' and slow rollin', what more could you possibly need?"
Style is ageless.

Road 7 Swimming Hole

The perfect place for lunch and a refreshing dip in a not-so-appealing pool of water.

So the water wasn't exactly roaring when we got to the Road 7 hole. At best it was exhibiting an intent to move. There was a pollen film on the surface, and at first there was a strong reaction against taking a dip. But then we were reminded of our commitment to Wiley Jeb's memory. Despite the sunglasses, if you know what you are looking for, you can tell Jenn is committed.
After this ride Moi was headed down to Florida. So it was critical that capitalized on his time in the sun.
Mike is a born leader. And a born leader knows that you lead by example. Example A. Mike is the first to hit the Road 7 Hole. #cherneyjourney
With leadership like Mike's it doesn't take long for the rest of us to follow (bathing) suit.
I see a few references going on with Reese's cap styling: Long Beach Reggae Rap Band, Metal Mulisha Inland Empire Desert Racer, WWII fighter plane mechanic, and a plain ole "I don't give any fucks" chiller. Knowing Reese it's probably one of the last two.
Whether swimming in a culvert or dining at her favorite mediterranean spot, Jenn's footwear is on point.
"You thinking what I'm thinking?" "CANNONBAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!"

The Descent to Hellgate

Post-lunch. A bit of rolling, but basically downhill, basically.

You can tell that at this point, Reese is happy she came on the ride. Can't you, can't you tell?
Like a flock of starlings mid-murmuration. Or a squadron of fighter jets impressing a crowd.


We came, we swam, we dreamed—on the South Fork of the Trinity River.

Did you know that Bo models? And that Moi should?
Is Jenn channeling Wiley Jeb, is Wiley Jeb haunting Jenn, is Jenn the meditative candle on which we are meant to focus our attention in order to actualize our experience of Wiley Jeb, or is this just a lady sitting on a rock in the middle of a river?
Many strange and beautiful creatures exist in these woods.
A fire ban was in place during our time in the MSOJ. Yes this was a let down, but a slight one at most. Like two points off, three at most, out of 100. No big deal.
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