We all have days of recreating that are in some way or ways more memorable than others. Good and Bad. The weather was perfect for that vacation. Or the weather was not. That night out on the town left you grinning or just grateful to be back home with your head on the pillow. Group rides in the woods can often become tests of one's will just to complete them. Or the trails and the mindset blend together offering you that rare perfect or almost perfect ride. Sunday was such a day.
The edgy cantankerous chip I have been shouldering in recent weeks did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling Sunday morning when my eyes popped open prematurely at 3:00 AM. I woke up surly and showed up at the trail head at Fort Rock in a very pissy mood. I was nursing a pulled crotch muscle, I had only slept 6 or 7 hours in the last 2 days, and I had forgotten my Camelbak full of water, tools, and something to munch on. Yep, all the ingredients to suffer a forgetful ride were in place. I looked at the spare bottle I always carry for when some other dope forgets his Camelbak and mumbled to myself, "Yeah it figures Mike, you'd be the dope today." My Karma exuded negativity. I seemed determined to have a shitty day in the woods.
Fort Rock is a regionally famous network of trails in southern New Hampshire. Riding there is always a challenge. Rocky, rooty, narrow wooden bridges, it has it all except the killer hill climbs some other areas have. My experience there is limited. I may have ridden those trails 3 or 4 times in the last 10 years. Until Sunday's ride, the technical aspects of the trails always got the better of me. An hour in and I became frustrated by the constant dismounts to walk sections that intimidated me. Sunday I still walked some, but I was not intimidated. The trail would have to force me off my bike. And it did. I went down hard at least 3 times I can remember. Unfortunately it was the "Lil Princess" that took the brunt of the damage this day. She left some serious paint on the rocks there. My helmet took a good whack also, immediately reminding me why I wear one.
"The Groove", "The Zone" - Whatever we may call it, there are moments when everything seems to cease to exist except that which we are experiencing at the moment. While I did not find my groove every time I rolled up to some intimidating or technical section, I found "my Zone" more than enough to wipe that shitty attitude out of my mind replacing it by rides end with a feeling of satisfaction I cannot really put into words other to say Sunday's ride left me with serious grin factor.
"The Demoralizer" is a very technical trail that never lets up. Constantly dipping, flipping and slipping up root ladders and down over baby head rocks nestled into and among boulders that intimidate just with their size. If memory serves, my last visit to this trail, I spent more time walking than riding. Sunday I attacked it and let's say it was a draw. The important thing was it did not demoralize me. My failures on it on fed my desire to come back and prove it is wrongly named.
Wood anything when utilized on mountain bike trails has made me nervous for over 20 years now. It was a nasty crash back in 1987 on a fast rolling downhill during the last "White Mountain Championships" that planted my fear of wood. At the bottom of the downhill run, the trail crossed a wooden bridge that completely collapsed when I hit it at speed. Me, the bike, and the bridge dropped about 8 feet before stopping in the boulder strewn creek bed the bridge was crossing. It hurt. It hurt deep. Since then when faced with a wooden bridge on my bike, I am prone to walk it before I ride it. Yeah, I am a Nancy when it comes to wood. Sunday we faced lots of wood. And I rode most of it. I can only think of 2 bridges I walked. And both only because I screwed up the approach. The bridge below is one I walked. Maybe that guy wishes he had also.
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