Learning Curves and Victories

(Written September 5th)
Another beautiful day and another great mountain biking adventure awaited me; especially since rain was in the forecast for the next two days. 

You can tell the seasons are starting to change when you wake up to the cooler mornings. It instantly makes me think of autumn and the months to come. Already you see fallen leaves on the trail along with walnuts encased in their green shells. Little acorns and their toppers litter the ground giving an added “crunch” to the ride.

I felt good this morning but my legs felt a little sore. You know? You can just deal with that when you know that it’ll be more fun to ride than to sit indoors.
I had a couple goals for my ride today: work on IPT’s rock garden and ride the top half of Little Big Horn in reverse so I could practice my technique of going over logs.

I decided to start my ride by going up to the Pali trails, essentially do yesterday’s ride in reverse. All was well until I had a fumble on Lee’s Loop. I’m not entirely sure what I did but all I know is my right knee was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think I tried to correct myself and ultimately slammed my handlebar into my knee. OOOH boy that hurt. I didn’t fall this time (a similar thing happened last week or so on Little Big Horn) but I definitely re-bruised some spots. I grumbled a bit, shook myself off, and went back to riding. I was slowed up a little because my pedal strokes provided a good level of discomfort.

Once I was done on the Pali trails (without any further events) I went to IPT. Heading to the newer section has you riding in a mess of sand. I managed to sneak my way through, get my wheel up and over the lump, and up the hill without putting a foot down. I made my way to the downhill and slowly descended. I had yet to figure out my “magic formula” for speed and such so I could get through the rock garden at the bottom successfully. It is definitely a challenge for me, one that I’ve almost accomplished 2 times so far. Would today be the day?

I sneaked my way around the rocks, picking the best line I possibly could. I thought at one moment I almost flubbed, but I managed to keep myself on track. Before I knew it I was out of the garden! I didn’t get hung up! I was elated!

I made my way along IPT to North 40, only needing a second attempt to get up the steeper hill. One of these days I know I’ll get up that hill first try.

Along the bottom half of North 40 I ran into some fawns up on the hillside, then a few feet further their triplet sibling and mother were hanging out. I was taken aback by how close I was to the deer, which seemed to know I had no intention of harm. I almost forgot to breathe!

Up Gunnar, to the prairie, I made may way to Little Big Horn and rode it until it would connect with the lower half of Rocky Road. I opted to try this tight little corner that you can easily avoid, and managed to make it! Then I went back on the upper half to work on my logs. The log that I needed to work on specifically was one I just recently figured out how to get over, but when you are coming up Little Big Horn (say clockwise) you can’t go over the wider section very easily. (Well, for me.) My best bet was to aim right and try to get myself up and over the log on that side. (You have to be careful with your aim, or your tire will slip off to the side.)
My tire kept getting hung up and spinning out, so I kept trying…not very much luck was had. Well, maybe I should try the flatter section….to which I did not lift my tire up enough, I was stopped abruptly, and my knee rammed into my shifter. OW!

So I went to the right side again, and after a couple attempts, managed to get both of my wheels over the log! Success!

When I left Little Big Horn to ride the pines, the ride was cut a little short after I came across the fallen tree-top of a large pine. I opted to cut out of the pines and ride the top-side of Little Big Horn again, go down Fred, and ride the Luge out. I had been out for a good amount of time and my legs were saying “I’m about done.” I raced down the Luge and am pretty sure I almost wiped out on a rock-Oops! It was a bit of a rush, I’ll admit, but I managed to stay upright and kept on going. I giggled a little nervously when I reached the bottom; normally I’m not such a rambunctious rider.

Minor mishaps and learning curves aside-I can’t deny that I’ve made progress with my riding skills. Yeah, I still have more to learn and a need to fine-tune some of my techniques. That’s just all part of the experience!