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DKR Labor Day Kitten Romp

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

by Alex Forte Howell

This past Labor Day Weekend, 10 Dirty Kittens converged in Athens, OH for a somewhat impromptu team "fall training camp" filled with bikes, food, beverages, games, adventures, excursions, more food, new apparel, photos, and some general shenanigans.

Most of us arrived on Friday afternoon/evening in time for dinner and to make plans for our ride the following day. Kari, our local Ohio team member, put together routes and provided options for various distances. Since she and our other teammate, Michelle, had been to the area before, they knew a little about what to expect.

Saturday morning, after a breakfast of homemade omelets & coffee and an obligatory team photo shoot in our NEW Cutaway team kits, we hit the road for a "casual" 25-35 mile gravel ride...which turned into a 4-5 hour adventure (as these things typically do): flat tires, wrong turns, multiple snack stops and regroups, an afternoon heat wave, and an attempted short cut which turned into more elevation and mileage. You know how it goes!

By Saturday afternoon, we were toasted. Some of us hit up the nearby lake for a little dip while others rested indoors and played a round of Cards Against Humanity. Lunch was on-you-own, but our dinner plan was Taco Night. Kristy & Val took over the kitchen, cooking up a storm, and made us a delicious array of taco fixins while Sharon baked a homemade creme torte with fresh-picked black raspberries. We topped it all off with a little bubbly to celebrate. YUM!!!!

Sunday we awoke a little tired from the day before, but after Kari's special breakfast quiche and some coffee, we were ready to hit up the local MTB flow trails: Baileys. If you want some machine-built, flow trails that rival the Kingdom Trails in East Burke Vermont but in the foothills of Appalachia, check out Baileys in Wayne National Forest, Athens County, OH. Over 50 miles of multi-use trails for every level of rider, hiker, runner, adaptive athlete, and nature enthusiast. It's awesome! Our crew enjoyed a somewhat chill 15-mile loop on easy & moderate trails starting at the trailhead off Utah Ridge Rd.

High off our MTB adventure (props to Rah & Val for riding borrowed bikes and showing their off-road skills), we headed back for some more rest and lake time. After our adult swim (which is really just standing around in the water contemplating getting in but not actually swimming), we enjoyed some more game time (Uno Flip & Unstable Unicorns) before a delicious BBQ dinner prepared by power-couple, Em & Lauren: chicken, tofu, rice, and pickled veggies.

By Sunday evening, a few of our crew had a case of "cabin fever" and were ready to get out (I'm looking at you, Julie!). After some discussion and a little hesitation from others (me), we settled on a local brewery that could accommodate our group and had an array of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options: Little Fish Brewing Company in Athens. We donned our Dirty Kitten Snowy Hawaiian shirts and cat ears and hit the town. Although we got a few confused looks upon arrival (I mean, 10 grown-ass adults rolling up in matching Hawaiian shirts & cat ears), we were seated at a long table by the bar. A few drinks and one strangely challenging "Foodie"game later, we were ready to call it a night...after a little car karaoke.

Monday morning, a few of us went out for short "recovery" gravel & mtb rides while others hit up a local coffee shop. Kristy & I whipped up some breakfast (scrambled eggs & waffles) with what was left of the food and then we packed up our cars to prepare for the drive back to our respective homes. Before we said our good-byes, we had to snap a few final group photos.

It was a truly joyful weekend and seemed to go by too fast. Since we live in different places, we aren't able to get together often, but when we do it's a treat! This may become a yearly Labor Day Weekend tradition...same location, different one each time? Who knows...

Words cannot adequately describe this past weekend. IT WAS AWESOME!!! It’s not often that we get to spend time with each other outside of an event, riding together without any planning or expectations.

TBH: It’s been a tough last few months for me. I’m not really sure why, but burnout is real and maybe I’ve pushed myself too hard trying to do too much. Riding—which has always been my escape—has started to feel like another requirement and I started to lose my desire to get on the bike. This past weekend, though, I enjoyed riding again: the feeling of freedom, camaraderie, and joy.

Thank you to my DKR Family for being such amazing humans. I love you all <3

“As you get older, you have your tribe […] that you grow and age gracefully with and you share wisdom with. That’s your clan. That’s your family. That’s your strength.” -Sheryl Crow


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