RR: One of those special rides. [Long]

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by Roger Buchanan, Jul 25, 2004.

  1. It was a great day for riding. The temps were in the high 60's and there
    was a 10-12mph breeze outta the North. It was a Robin Egg Blue sky with
    Cotton Puff-ball clouds. Even the bugs were on a hiatus it seemed.

    Changing into my riding gear at the trailhead I overheard a couple of
    guys talking. "You know, without a pump that new patch kit isn't gonna
    get you very far..." "Yeah, the first place I stop is at the bike shop
    tomorrow". Good plan I thought!

    We exchanged positive comments on the weather and wished each other a
    good ride as I finished changing. The one thing that I notice about
    sunscreen is that it is a good lubricant. I use a lot, as one of my meds
    is a vasodilator that gives me a nice pink hue for a few hours after I
    take it. Anyway, the sunscreen makes it easy for me to get into my
    riding shorts and shirt. I kinda look like a multi-coloured human
    sausage, but I don't really care. I'm out riding, my clothes are
    comfortable to wear, and I don't really look much funnier than I do
    normally...

    As soon as my front wheel rolled onto the ribbon of singletrack I
    thought "yeah... now I'm goin' for a ride!". I traverse across the line
    from the Real World, a land of responsibilities and medications and
    doctors appointments, into the land of Rog's Time, which is a place of
    peace and tranquility and fun. Lots and lots of fun!

    With the late season the wildflowers are still out in bloom, and thanks
    to all the forays of picture taking with Linda I've remembered some of
    their names. Yarrow, Fleabane, Hair Bells and lots of wild clover.
    They're all over the place. As I ride across the meadow I think of how
    it's starting to grow up. On night rides in Autumn will I still be able
    to see the eyes of the Deer reflecting my lights as they blink at this
    strange creature passing by in the night?

    On to Cedar Bog loop I decide to ride the whole trail, with the caveat
    that I'll walk any tricky parts. I've never ridden the whole loop as I
    always have taken the cut-out to the road that is at the bottom of the
    hill. As I roll along the downhill section of the trail I gain speed and
    weave around, and sometimes under, the low branches that are overhanging
    the trail. Sometimes the leaves brush my back. I know this part of the
    trail like I know my favourite piece of music. I know what to expect and
    when. The brakes squeal, the knobbies ping and pang and the suspension
    cycles in perfect rhythm with the terrain.

    >From the cut-out to the road I go straight, breaking new ground as it

    were. This is the first new section of trail that I've ridden in a long
    time. I promised Linda that if there was anything too challenging I'd
    walk it, rather than risk crashing when I was alone. The trail is now
    flat, but starts to weave in and amongst a bog of Cedars. It darker in
    here, and there is next to no ground cover. Once can see quite a ways
    into the woods. Anticipating the trail is a bit tricky though, as it
    weaves around so much. Adding even more challenge is the fact that with
    such a soft base much of the trail is like a sidewalk of logs. They've
    been lain down so as to provide some semblance of a solid base for those
    that walk or ride the trail. Needless to say the logs had a mind of
    their own in places. Sometimes they were just a little askew and other
    times they were partly submerged, at odd angles and covered with mud.
    Never were the words "Momentum" and "Flow" more meaningful in
    determining the success of riding a section of trail. A couple of the
    times I thought I was gonna get bucked off my bike, as I got really
    rocking and rolling. In the end though I only walked two sections, one
    where a hiker thought I was being polite...

    The climb, such as it was, back up to the trailhead was uneventful. The
    occasional patch of loose gravel would keep me honest as the back wheel
    would hunt for traction and the odd section of sand would have me shift
    around on the bike. For the most part it was just a slow paced show of
    wildflowers. Without any real bugs to speak of! As I rode along I had a
    growing grin as I thought about having ridden my first new section of
    trail in a long long time.

    With the climb to the trailhead behind me I cut back to the first loop
    and continued along on my way. Dropping down outta the meadow I just
    kept off of the brakes and let my momentum gather. I'll say one thing
    about us fat guys... we pick up our speed and hold it rather well when
    gravity volunteers. The numbers of flowers picked up even faster than
    the numbers on my bike computer. Sweeping around each corner I was
    slowly being overcome with the feeling that this was not just any
    ordinary ride. Everything was just coming together. This was special.

    Normally I think eight inch wide hardpack singletrack is narrow at
    speed, but when that said singletrack is flanked by three and a half
    foot tall grass your timing in the turns had better be spot on. So was
    the fun of the last quarter mile along to the warming hut. The
    wildflowers were still blooming, but the husks of the tall grass seed
    pods were sticking to the sweat on my arms. At the warm-up hut I stopped
    for a bit of a break.

    The warm-up hut is for the XC skiers in the winter. But as much as it is
    used by the folks in January it is just as much appreciated by those of
    us that night ride in late September and into October. Often I have
    stopped and started a fire in the pot belly stove. There is always an
    ample supply of dry split wood. With two picnic tables out front there
    is room to sit around, and if nature calls there is a well maintained
    out-house. On most of my rides I just sit at one of the picnic tables
    and drink some water, all the while wondering if it can possibly get any
    better than this!

    As it turns out it can in deed get better! I had not ridden more than a
    couple of hundred yards when I noticed bushes loaded down with
    Saskatoons. I don't know what other names they might have, but think of
    them as Blueberries on trees. I just had to stop. They were ripe and
    they were big and they were all over the place. I stood around eating
    and eating and eating for about 15 minutes. My hands were stained, I got
    my gloves stained when I used them to wipe my face. It was great. I was
    like a Bear in a berry patch... Chomp! Munch, munch, munch... Chomp!

    Belly full I continued on my way. I was riding along a corridor of ripe
    Saskatoons. For about a good quarter of a mile they graced both sides of
    the trail. Sometimes the branches looked like they were about to break
    underneath the weight of all those berries. Yes, I had to stop a couple
    of more times just for small samples.

    Through the section of Roots and Oaks I managed to soak up all the bumps
    while keeping a solid rhythm. This wasn't a day for blasting along, but
    rather one for an ambling pokey pace so as to travel along in wide-eyed
    wonder at the bounty of it all. I passed a Tiger-Lily. I'd never seen
    one on this section of trail before now.

    I rolled along the climb to the look out tower at a nice gentle pace. I
    pushed the bike up the hill this time. There would be other times for a
    "grab the bull by the horns" attitude, this wasn't one of them. At the
    top, the sun was warming, but the breeze was cooling. I sat and at a
    snack without the sound of another human anywhere to be heard. That's
    saying a lot considering this park is only 10 miles from a city of
    700,000.

    The last part of my ride would be the most level. I don't think I
    changed into a lower gear at any point. As I started out from the look
    out tower I had to take a short pause to let a little spell of double
    vision pass by. When this happens I get all wobbly and weak, and can't
    really follow any of the singletracks that appear in front of me. My
    only choice IS to stop. It passes, but while it is happening it is both
    a little bit amusing and a little bit alarming. As long as it passes I
    don't dwell on it though.

    Now the quantity of the wildflowers is exploding around me. A GoldFinch
    flies by in all its glory. Somewhere out of view I hear the sound of a
    Sparrow Hawk. This is indeed one of those times where the best of
    absolutely everything is pulled together, and I'm lucky enough to be
    riding while all of it is happening. I don't pass another soul along the
    rest of the trail.

    Back at the trail head I share part of my lunch with a little Ground
    Squirrel. Normally I don't feed the wildlife, but as there are no
    campsites anywhere near I don't think I'm teaching it that much a bad
    habit. It seems to have liked the bread, *loved* the cheese, liked the
    Peach and yet loathed the Plum! Go figure.

    I had been out riding for just over two and half hours. I only covered
    18km in that time, riding at my pokey pace, as I am want to do. I did,
    though, have a most wonderful time. I rode a new section of trail, ate
    wild berries, enjoyed the best that nature had to offer, and shared my
    lunch with one of her cute little denizens. It was one of those rides
    that just went above and beyond...

    Later, after I picked Linda up to go for coffee, I told her about my
    ride. When I got to the part about the Saskatoons she made me pause
    whilst she asked "Soooo? Where are *my* Saskatoons???". The reply that I
    hadn't thought of bringing any back for her brought about a look
    despondence like I have rarely seen. "You ate all those berries and you
    didn't bring **ANY** back for me?"

    But that's a story for our next RR! Thanks for reading!
    --
    - Rog

    http://www.wpcusrgrp.org/~rogerbuchanan/index.html

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