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New XC distance PR: 42.34 miles; Angry runner saga continues; On vacation!

Friday, October 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

October
21
2011
Bike on a Trail photo for October 20, 2011.

Bike on a Trail photo for October 20, 2011.

There was a chill in the air when I set off on my ride yesterday morning, but I knew that once I warmed up the cool air would be refreshing. The weather yesterday was by far the nicest we’ve seen all year long, so my plan was to break my existing cross-country mountain biking distance personal record of 37.84 miles. The ride was spectacular, and I shattered my old record with a 42.34 mile trek through the Wekiwa forest.

I rode hard, and I purposely hit most of the sandy fire roads for a real leg-burning cardio workout. By the time I completed the 42 miles my legs were, indeed, very tired. Apart from that (and a little saddle soreness) I still felt great! It was one of the most enjoyable and satisfying cross-country rides I’ve ever had.

The day was not without human drama, however. If you missed my October 15, 2011 blog, go give it a read or none of the below will have any context.

As I was unloading my bike from the truck, a couple of forest rangers in a golf cart pulled up next to me. One of the rangers asked me if I had been riding this past Friday. I told him that I had. He said, “I thought that was you. A runner reported that you ran him off the trail. You should have heard all the radio chatter as we searched for you! We had most of the park staff looking for you, as well as a Wildlife Officer.” He stopped to laugh, and then continued, “We tried and tried, but we never could find you. The whole episode sure livened up our day!”

This tree growing across the Wekiva River is a beautiful place to take 5.

This tree growing across the Wekiva River is a beautiful place to take 5.

I was dumbfounded. I said, “First of all I never ran that guy–or anyone else–off the trail. I’ve been riding out here for more than a year, and never had an issue with anyone before Friday.” I explained what really happened, and that the guy was just angry because I didn’t stop when he yelled back at me. I told the rangers that I probably should have stopped, and I felt bad for not doing so, but the guy lied to them about being run off the trail–pure and simple. The safety of the people enjoying the trails on foot is something I take very seriously.

The rangers were really cool, and I could tell they thought the whole thing was silly. They seemed more amused than anything else. I got the feeling this guy is well-known to them, probably because he complains a lot. One of the rangers mentioned that the person in question was actually out on the trails running as we spoke, and that his name was Gary. Or was it Craig? I don’t remember, or care. I’ll stick with Gary.

So I said to the rangers, “I’ve asked on three separate occasions if I could ride the hiking trails (non-bike trails), and every time I’ve been told that it was fine so long as I am careful and always yield to foot traffic.” One of the rangers said, “Well, they were probably just trying to be nice. Technically bikes are not allowed on those trails.”

“So you’re saying I can’t ride them anymore?”

The ranger grinned and said with a wink, “Well, I’m about to drive off, and so I didn’t see where you went.”

I laughed and said, “See, you guys always do that! You know what, I’m going to go find this guy and straighten things out.”

So I set off down the trail, and less than 10 minutes later I saw Mr. Mustache coming towards me. I stopped my bike and waited as he approached. I said, “Are you Gary?” He stopped and said, “Yeah.” I extended my right hand and said, “Hi, I’m John Stone.” He reluctantly shoved out his left (!) hand and then twisted his arm around so his now upside down hand was facing the correct way, delivering what is easily the most awkward handshake I’ve ever experienced in my life. He immediately launched into a tirade peppered with curse words. As he ranted I remember thinking, “Damn, his mustache is nowhere near as epic as I thought it was. That thing is a Freddie Mercury at best, not a Magnum.” 🙁

I tried to interrupt him a couple of times with words to the effect of, “Hang on, I can explain why we have a misunderstanding…”, but apparently he had a lot he wanted to get off his chest first.

I thought, “Maybe if this guy knows Lori and Megan (the runners I met a couple weeks ago) we’ll have some common ground and that would be a good place to start…”

This young buck doesn't mind sharing the trails with me.

This young buck doesn't mind sharing the trails with me.

So I interrupted him with, “Hey, do you run out of Winter Park?”

The question seemed to throw him off balance, and he looked confused: “Huh?”

I said, “Do you run with the Dawgs in Winter Park?”

The Dawgs is a well-known running organization based in nearby Winter Park, Florida.

Now he looked openly disgusted. “Dogs? What?! No, I don’t own any dogs!”

Sigh. This wasn’t going well. And I didn’t like the way he said “dogs” with obvious contempt.

Eventually I was able to speak, and I told him that I had been given permission to ride these trails on no less than three separate occasions. I said, “I’ve literally got video footage of me passing forest rangers on these trails with a wave and a smile.”

He wasn’t having it.

He said that because of me (and other bikers) he can no longer relax and enjoy his run. He told me that he has to look down for roots, and can’t be looking out for bikers. I said, “Well, I understand, and it’s my job to look out for (and yield to) you.”

He then brought up the blind corners, which are common. I told him that I always take those corners at ultra-slow speeds. I also brought up that almost the entire north section of the running trail is, in fact, marked for shared hiking and biking use, and it had plenty of blind corners. He didn’t have much to say about that.

My point was that there are people, bikes and animals out there, and those blind corners simply need to be taken slowly by everyone.

He then said something that I took as a threat.

“Well, if they are going to allow bikes out here (on the trails not marked for bike use), then someone is going to get hurt. Even if you don’t hit me, if you surprise me and I jump off the trail and mess up my hamstring or something there’s going to be lawsuits.”

He started to jog off and said, “Have a nice ride.” The sneer in his voice said, “I hope you break your neck.”

We don't like Gary either. He tried to have us kicked off the trails, too.

We don't like Gary either. He tried to have us kicked off the trails, too.

So there it is. I honestly believe this nasty little drama queen would do exactly that: jump off the trail, feign an injury and sue. He already lied once when he told the rangers I ran him off the trail. The official rules are that bikes are not allowed on some of the trails I’m riding, and despite being given informal permission to ride them, he’d almost certainly prevail in a lawsuit (even a frivolous one).

I really have no choice here. I don’t ride for this BS drama, and I don’t want to get sued by some spiteful jerk who can’t share the trails. So I’ll stay off the ~6.5 miles he’s whining about; there are plenty of other places I can ride there. If I ever see him on the shared white blaze (hiking) and red blaze (biking) section of the trail he better keep his mouth shut. I’m done trying to be nice.

Really that whole encounter was a small blemish on what was otherwise a wonderful day. I had so much fun riding out there in the cool air, and I saw some amazing wildlife and other beautiful sights. I also had some friendly encounters with a few runners, a photographer and another mountain biker.

As soon as I finish up my work today I’m officially on vacation! There will be no updates to this site while I’m on holiday, but I’ll be posting random musing, pictures and video on Facebook while I’m off. My daily blog will resume on Monday, October 31, 2011. Until then, train hard and have fun!

John Stone Fitness Comments

13 Responses to “New XC distance PR: 42.34 miles; Angry runner saga continues; On vacation!”
  1. Always ride wit the video camera, just to have an extra recorded witness. Maybe this will turn into Paranormal Activity 4, bike trail version, and the footage of this guy falling offroad by the push of an unseen, evil force right when you were passing by.

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    • I really wish I’d had my GoPro running yesterday. Then I could have posted the entire conversation. I can’t wear my GoPro on its chest mount when I have my DSLR mounted there, so I rarely take it to Wekiwa.

      Next time I see him I’m taking his picture though. It’s a public place, and there’s not a damn thing he can do about it.

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      • You absolutely need to get his picture.
        I can see the photoshopped de-motivational posters already.

        “When in doubt, ask yourself, what would angry mustache guy do”

        “When you get up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning and just feel the overwhelming need to be an a-hole, fear not, angry mustache guy is already out there somewhere”

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    • My primary goal was to reach an understanding with this guy so we could both enjoy the trails. Losing my cool certainly would have destroyed any chance of ironing things out. Turns out he wasn’t going to give an inch, but at least I rode away calm and enjoyed the rest of the day. If I’d allowed him to upset me it probably would have ruined my day.

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  2. The handshake thing is funny. There is someone here at work that does the exact same thing. He fell off a ladder eons ago and claims shaking hands with his right hand hurts him. Therefore, out comes the upside down left hand and weird shake. Classic.

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  3. Wow….most of the time, a calm friendly discussion can diffuse these situations. Some people though are just chronically angry and pissed off, and will use any excuse to vent on other people and create conflict. Props for the way you handled it — I know I’d have a tough time not letting my anger get the best of me in that situation.

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    • He and his stubble are virtually inked in John Stone’s blog forever. World-wide public humiliation with a bonus upgrade: one full week on the front page. Outed on the Internet, not man enough to rock the Magnum, he will jog on through the woods, able only to stare at his shoes, missing the scenery he so dearly claims to prize, dreaming of better facial hair. Sad.

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  4. I have to agree that the “Damn, his mustache is nowhere near as epic as I thought it was. That thing is a Freddie Mercury at best, not a Magnum.” 🙁 was the funniest bit in there. I sort of hurt myself holding in laughter.

    As a trail runner, I can’t believe this guy. Some of the trails I run on are marked running only, no bikes or horses, and still there are bikers on them from time to time.

    I wear ear-buds and it’s never a problem. I wear Vibrams (so I need to be more aware of where I step than that guy) and it’s never a problem.

    Jump off the trail to avoid a bike? The biker is probably going to get more hurt, either in a collision or veering of the trail. I know–I shattered my wrist flying off my mountain bike.

    Sorry this guy ruined your ride and those trails for you. When did people become so nasty and so frail?

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