Friday, October 8, 2010

It's good to be back....

As I reach the top of Brandon, I can hear my heart pounding in my ears which is surprising.  Not because it shouldn’t be beating that loud, but because I’m huffing and puffing louder than a herd of wildebeests and am surprised I can hear anything at all….

Wednesday night I got the Jabberwocky back together so last night’s ride was the first time back on the single speed in a couple of months. Add to that the fact that in the last month, I’ve ridden like 3 times and it quickly becomes apparent why my heart was pounding in my ears and my breathing was loud and very “wildebeest-like”.

Jim, Lynn and I left before the main group since we were doing the long route and wanted a chance to finish at or about the same time as the main group.  Jim also hasn’t been riding much. He runs his own business and evidently his boss is a slave driver.

This was the first week I had ridden where I was going to need lights so I made sure I charged up my battery, strapped it to the bike, threw my clear lenses in the camelback and had everything ready to go.  I even arrived early to the starting place…..only to realize I had forgotten my light….luckily Lynn had a spare.

Once we finished Brandon though and my heartbeat returned to normal, I started to feel better.  As we hit the short road section that connects to RedTail I actually felt good.  I was back in the groove on the SS, pushing and pulling at the same time as I climbed.  Unable to downshift and spin, you have no choice but to keep the momentum up and just keep going.  And without suspension, you really have to pick your lines carefully and not just plow down the hill.

Arms loose, knees bent, grip firm, the bike bouncing, bucking and skipping around beneath me I rip down the section of narrow single track on RedTail, watching the ruts, looking where I want to go and not where I don’t.  The bike feels good, she’s light, fast and together we’re one as we lean, pedal and carve our way though the fast downhill sections.

Eventually though, we cross the parking lot at the top and can see where the Park District has been working on their “trail maintenance”.  In District-speak, trail maintenance means “let’s drive the entire route with a bulldozer” which is pretty much exactly what it looks like they did.
The “path” and I use that term loosely since it looks more like a “road” is about 20 ft wide and a mix of bare hard rock that’s been scraped clean interspersed with loose, soft, dusty sections where they’ve spread everything they scraped from the trail.

It’s ok though, I’m on the bike and it’s a beautiful evening and even their destruction of what used to be a trail can’t ruin my mood.  It might be the endorphins, but I feel great!  There are a couple of decent climbs back here on this section of Soaring Hawk, but my legs just keep churning and pretty soon we’re headed downhill again.

The last section before you cross the road over to Bort Meadows is steep and deeply rutted.  The fact that it dumps you out onto a sharp curve on Redwood Rd, which is known for racing motorcycles and wannabe rally car drivers, only adds to the challenge.

Evidently, the driver of the bulldozer didn’t feel like risking his life, so this section is left unmolested. My front wheel of course, slips into one of the ruts, probably because that’s where I was looking and thinking “don’t go in that rut”…..luckily, I just let off the brake and the 29” wheels roll right out the other side. Wow, this bike makes me look good!

It’s getting dark now and I’m thankful Lynn had the spare light.  The path back down to the stone bridge is fast, loose and dusty and as long as I keep my legs spinning at about 130 rpm I’m able to stay ahead of Jim and Lynn.

The rest of the route is pretty routine, although we do come upon a guy pushing his bike, with no lights, up the trail.  When asked what happened he says he broke his chain.  Both Jim and I offer to help him fix it since we have chain tools, but he tells us he threw his chain away when it broke……not sure why you’d do that instead of just putting it in your camelback, but I guess I also don’t understand why you’d be out here in the dark without lights.  In his defense, it could be he didn’t plan on taking as long as it did to walk out.

As we came back to the marina, Lynn decided we should do the last, short, steep section up to the parking lot instead of the normal, not-as-steep road.  It was half way up that last section, where I wasn’t sure which would explode first, my lungs or my legs, that I formed, joined and became chairman of the “I hate Lynn” fan club…..Once the beers at the end were passed around though, I quickly resigned my chairmanship and disbanded the club…..seems I was the only member anyway, and once I finished the climb, I couldn’t remember why I had formed the club to begin with…..

All in all, a beautiful night and a really great's good to be back!

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