Bike Life Adventures With Dirty Gertie Vol. 4
I knew the only way I would be able to legitimately enjoy the group ride would be to ride Dirty Gertie.
There wouldn't be any other way to bust out another nearly 6-mile ride after my 6-mile ride prior to the meeting without her.
Pearch led the ride for part of the time and I started to feel comfortable with handling Gertie at more of a race pace. Truth be told, one of the last times I did anything "race pace" I ended up crashing and landing on both knees. (I still have a bone bruise or something from that...and yes...I hear Libby saying "Knee pads!")
I was a little nervous because it's been so dry on our trails as of late. Any rain we're predicted to get seems to either dissipate or move north or south. Loose rocks pose a silent threat of helping your wheel roll out from under you. Going fast and leaning in, not using your brakes so much, all things I'm working on gaining confidence with. (Big sigh.) I'll admit that my latest mishap with my neck has also put a damper on my bike handling confidence (just a wee bit.) So I'm feeling a little timider going around some turns at speed because I've been down the road of going too fast and leaning too far in when it's dry.
We came to GT Park and I was feeling good. I was on Travis' back wheel and feeling very brave. Pearch said the ebike riders should go first. My heart dropped. F*ck.
Travis took off like a shot. I always had him in my sight, but could not catch up without riding what I would consider "too stupid fast" for me.
Nick and Pearch were on my tail. Anxiety welled up. I pushed myself, feeling like my heart wanted to explode in my chest. Damn, I hate when people are right on my wheel, even if they are like my adoptive brothers! Travis is sometimes on my wheel when we ride together, which often causes him to flub up if I'm too slow in a spot.
We came to the intersection of Lower and Upper LBH trail to wait for the group to gather. I chugged some water. My lungs were working hard, but they didn't crest the past the point of being too overworked. Good thing, because I didn't have an inhaler with me. (Bad.)
Travis took off again, Nick went second, I was third, and Pearch was behind me. I felt my nervousness slightly dissipate as I only had one rider behind me. I also felt that I was better able to keep up while we rode the upper half of Little Big Horn. At one point I almost wiped out on a corner, but that's because of my leaning over a wee bit too far. I was able to correct myself (impressively!) and continued on. (This sort of thing could happen on any bike, so don't say it's because I was on an EMTB. It was because I was pushing myself beyond my comfort zone for speed.
Before we rode down Gunnar, I told Pearch to go ahead of me. Aaaah, yes. Now we're talking! I was able to follow all three carrots and ride fast yet feel comfortable that no one was right on my tail. That, my friends, is what I consider to be bliss.
I'm a person that really does prefer to have some space between riders unless the rider behind me is extremely aware and efficient at being able to pay attention to my riding and understand that I'm probably going to use my brakes, I hate having people right on my rear. I've been on the rear wheel of people before, and if something messes them up, I'm messed up. So the concept that the 4 of us were moving like literal train cars impressed yet caused me some minor anxiety. In a way, it's great because the folks behind me knew I was skilled enough as a rider that they apparently felt comfortable enough to ride with me like I was legitimately "one of the fast guys."
So, that brings me to say that I am just so super stoked over this bike. I'm not telling everyone to go out and buy an EMTB or anything of the sort, but for ME it's totally bridged a gap that my body would never allow. I was breathing heavy (a combination of anxiety and going fast) but I never once reached the point where I would get "racer's cough" that would always afflict me after group rides with the guys or events. Can I say how much I enjoy riding fast and pushing my limits (yet still being safe!) and not coughing up my lungs at the end? I LOVE IT.
Gertie felt planted and in control, even tho conditions were dusty. I'm glad I went back to the original (stock) tires that came on the bike as the lugs really helped to keep me upright. I had my suspension fully open because I do feel that extra bit of squish really helps to keep me stable because it's so forgiving.
Overall, even tho the ride wasn't super long, being able to actually blast with the guys was super fun! It proves that even tho I was on an EMTB, I do indeed have the handling skills to go that fast. It's not like the bike is making me a better rider, but it's allowing me to be the rider I can be if I had the lungs of someone who didn't have allergies or exercise-induced asthma OR a bum knee. I was beyond happy.
Absolutely one of the best purchases I've ever made for myself. No regrets. Zip, zilch, nada. Dirty Gertie is hands down a favorite bike of mine and I'm so grateful that technology can bring so much joy!