When I’m out on a weekend ride, I’m always wondering what adventure I’ll find myself in that will be worth writing about. This post started to materialize when I found myself pushing my bike up the side of a sandy hill, in a slight drizzle, with 30 mph wind gusts hitting me head on, taking my breath away. It got me to thinking about how these situations always start off with the simple phrase, “Do you want to ride?”.
I think if we were to elaborate on this simple phrase when getting a ride together, there would be far fewer takers. “Who wants to push their bike up a hill in the wind driven rain? Meet at 10:00 AM!”, is not the most enticing invite. Once you’re out in the elements though, you find that it’s not really all that bad. It’s all just part of the adventure and challenge of mountain biking. In fact you’d probably be disappointed if some challenge did not arise that took mental and physical strength to overcome. You just don’t want to know about going in.
On Sunday morning, I was hoping that the weather would either be outstanding, or so bad that there was no debate about the ride. Come ride time though, the weather was neither bad nor good. It would be a gamble. The weather could hold, or it could turn miserable at the worst time.
I rode over to the west side, where I met Lester and Jeff P. We rode up to the V&T bike path where we decided to continue on to the dirt, and ride the big sand hill at the end of the V&T grade in reverse. I don’t recall ever going up this hill in reverse, but it sounded like something new to try. Lester and I fizzled out about a third of the way up, and pushed our bikes for what felt like a long way. The sand was packed nicely and provided firm traction, but the hill is still very steep. It was a test of strength and will in the granny gear. Jeff P had all of the required elements, and he pedaled all the way to the top. To make us feel better, he told us that he “barely” made it.
We kept our elevation at the top of Lakeview, at then ascended to the ridge above Timberline Road. It’s a steep doubletrack climb to the top, followed by a brake dragger singletrack down to the pavement below. We paused for a bit at the top, and were treated to the biggest wind gusts of the day. My beard felt like a sail. Once down on Timberline road, the wind was much calmer, making the next climb go by a lot easier than the first two. It was only slightly raining at this point, and the wind seemed to dry my clothes as fast as they were getting wet.
We crossed Vicee Canyon at the top of the Timberline dirt road, and began our descent down the the north face. Here we found the only real mud of the day. Once we got to Ash Canyon, it was back to dry conditions. We took the Baldy Green Trail down to Ash Canyon Road, and then started climbing to the Four Day Trail trailhead. This would be the last climb of the day, having only a long 1,000 foot descent back to the city. The traction on the descent was phenomenal, and we had a nice tailwind. This made for speeds that were nearly out of control! In fact, I think I had my fastest run down the Vicee Rim Trail ever.
Once back at the asphalt, we started parting ways. I still had an adrenaline surge from the descent, and didn’t want to waste it. I locked out my suspension fork, and started chasing a car down Long Street. I kept with him until Roop Street where I finally turned off. Later at home, the hard efforts of the day hit me all at once. My legs were toast, and just walking across the room seemed like a huge effort. It turned out to be a great ride regardless of the weather. I’m glad I answered the simple question, “Do you want to ride?” with a simple, “Sure, what time?”.