Looking At The Bright Side

It was a beautiful day (Sept. 2nd) and I had high hopes that mountain biking would be doable today. I was a little skeptical from all of the rain we had, plus it rained this morning as well. Travis and I talked of going out later in the afternoon, so after my dad left from his visit I decided to sneak out and see how they were.

I planned a simple route through IPT, North 40, Gunnar, Pines, and back. I opted to go on the side that had a steeper downhill and rock garden that keeps tripping me up. I figured this would be safer than my possibly wiping out on the big rock (if it were wet.) I just didn’t have a good start when I came to the base of the hill, so I scooted myself and my bike through the garden and continued on.

I felt pretty positive about trying to go up the North 40 hill, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I made it up my third try, and my phone started to ring. It was a text from Travis saying that he was able to go riding now or we could drop his mom’s car off at her house and then ride. I was actually feeling pretty fatigued at the moment (hooray menses) so I didn’t mind having a break. Plus? The goal/hope was to go on a mountain bike ride with Travis.

After the car drop-off I dropped Travis off at the shop so he could bring a bike and I continued home. Soon he had arrived and was getting changed. I was ready! I knew it would be a pretty good ride since I already knew the trails weren’t completely sloppy and I already made a good climb.

This time I almost made it through the rock garden, but at the last moment I miscalculated a movement (and was distracted by Travis telling me how good I was doing) and I did not avoid one last rock. Darn it all!
We continued to North 40 and I was able to make the climb on my second attempt. After that we went up Gunnar and to the upper half of Little Big Horn.

I had, apparently, been doing really well and Travis made sure to tell me so. My pace (under the circumstances) was good and I’d been riding smoothly. We came across some debris on the trail-larger sticks and such.

At one point a fallen tree and I had a few seconds to decide “do I or don’t I?” and I opted for the “I’ll give it my best shot” and got my tire up and over the tree. It was a little tricky, as the tree was mobile and moved a little under the weight. Travis was surprised but also pleased with what I just demonstrated for skill.

We went to Fred’s and had a glorious ride down that trail. It had some much-needed maintenance done to smooth out the rut that forms when water runs down it. No longer were my teeth clenched as I made my way around the hairpin and down the hill. Also during the ride, I made a comment about all of the debris. The larger fallen limbs and multi-limbed branches that were littering the trail were providing me additional challenge. I actually could say I did not hate it, I didn’t love it-but it definitely made me appreciate how well I knew the trails and what I could get away with.

The Luge was awesome and I let myself go fast! I yelled for a bunny to get out of the way and flew down the trail. My bike was rising and falling under me, over the small lumps and bumps. I felt great! It was just what I needed for myself this day. Fun, speed, and riding with my partner.

I felt good enough to ride up to Palisades so we went about our way of climbing the steep road to the trails. Generally I’ll ride up until I reach the Upper Pali trail, ride that to Lee’s Loop. I’ll turn around and do Lee’s the opposite direction, then go back on Upper Pali and take that down to Middle and Lower Pali. When I rode down Middle and Lower Pali, I realized that the immense fear and anxiety I used to experience on those trails was gone. I rode them effortlessly, without nervousness.

I was happy Travis was with me and I also appreciated him seeing me ride when I felt confident with my handling skills. 

The wild card that we didn’t expect was the mass of down trees on River Trail. Our ending ride proved to be comical! I wanted to try my hand at riding River Trail in reverse up the two climbs and back the opposite way. I made the first climb just fine, but the second is one that would prove to be a challenge. The ledge is small, it’s a little rocky, and it has a steep uphill; almost made it last time. I saw the start and started going up the hill. The sun had blinded me a little and when I was able to see again, “Damnit! What the heck?! That’s not fair!!!” 
A tree had fallen across the trail. I could not make the climb.
I had to laugh.

So down I went and we continued on. Then we ran into another tree! This one we moved (well, okay, Travis moved and I picked up a few smaller limbs) and discovered we had walked into large nettles. Damnit again! I spread some mud on my leg where I had gotten a small sting.

Then another tree!

We made our way to the main trail, and I’m not sure how far we were up it, but ran into yet another fallen tree.

So we went backwards, tried a different route, and encountered yet another fallen tree. We managed to squeeze our way through and came up to another trail block. We back tracked to a trail section and started to head back the way we originally came-which was my brilliant idea. Now I had a hill to tackle and it was the second climb (when you ride to the bridge, towards the riverbank) and I struggled with it every time. The root that you must needle through seemed to always find a way to trip me up. (This is also where I had a grand tip-over into a mess of shrubbery.)

I gave it a go, needled through, and was chanting in a sing-song voice “I made it! I made it! I made it first try!” First time I actually made the climb on the first go! I successfully entered the river and came up the bank without putting a foot down. Aaaah! Success!

Overall I must say that today ended on a fantastic note. I really enjoyed spending time with my significant other as well as being able to just get out and ride on the dirt trails for the first time in several days. It was a great feeling and all I could do was smile.

It doesn’t matter if the latter part of the ride ended up being more of a comedic sketch gone wrong, I had enjoyed every chaotic moment it had to offer.