Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Scariest Ride Of My Life: Oregon, MTB style

So, last year after my first big-girl tri (Nation's Tri, 2010), the Team in Training coaches advised us to take the fall and just do fun stuff.  The coach told me to not run (as I had been suffering all summer) and maybe try something like mountain biking.

I first took my hybrid up to West Hartford's Reservoir, and decided to try the extra off road bit that went beyond the paved path.  That was when I discovered the miles of unpaved trails at the Reservoir.  On that first day, I kicked the butt of two macho guys on fancy MTBs who thought they were the hottest of the hot until they got their tails whupped in the first climb by the chick on the hybrid.

The hybrid was all wrong for real trail riding, though- the wheels were too slick and the handle geometry just wrong.  So I borrowed my brother's MTB.  Eventually, I traded him a computer and kept the mountain bike for mine, all mine.

And then we moved to Oregon.  I spent the summer riding roads with the tri club and Hutch's and Martin and some new friends like UberCyclist and SuperCruiser and all by myself... and finally, along came fall.

Today dawned bright and blue and clear.  I'd been doing some light running so I was feeling pretty hearty.  Well, yesterday I had my first TRX class ever and our tri coach kicked my butt.  Wow.  I think maybe I might have strained that right leg muscle a little more than I thought because those plank moves... ahoy.  But still, today = bright and clear and it would have been a sin to stay inside.  Besides, I also have a sermon to finish for tomorrow.  While the research is all done, I just couldn't think of a focus.  Often, I find the bike ride offers clarity to sermons.  So I frequently go riding or sometimes running to bust out of a homiletic rut.

Today I went to Dilliard.  I have written before of my love for the Dilliard trail- mostly flat with a little rolling that makes you feel like rockstar.

M dropped me off, and I climbed onto my trusty Trek and discovered that Dilliard had transformed itself into a mountain.  A giant, scary mountain.  That first gentle incline was a sheer rock wall and the gravel spread was actually composed of ginormous boulders.  At least, that was what I thought.  Thus began the Scariest Ride of My Life.

Once I had hiked up that first incline and found a relatively flat space, I got back on and started rolling.  Did you know that my friendly Dilliard Street trail is really a narrow rut jutting out over a steep hill covered in rocks and lush greenery full of mountain lions and downed trees?  Let's just say that the hill, which I previously found charming, unnerved me a little today.  Terrified, even.

I had to pull over twice to allow small children and their parents to pedal their own MTBs past me.  The six-year-old little boy shouted something that sounded like, "WHEEEEEE, YAY, DADDY!  HI, LADY!"  But I'm sure he meant, "WATCH OUT FOR THE HAIRPIN SWITCHBACK TURN AND THE GIANT BOULDERS!  WE"RE ALL GOING TO DIE!"

These Oregon children are so charming.

In the end, I rode to Dilliard and back, and then took the other side of the loop and back.  Hey, guess what?  It's a loop trail, after all!  Yeah!

Oregon MTB riding is totally unlike East Coast (ahem, Connecticut) riding.  What I used to think was a MTB ride is actually what Oregon considers the kiddie park.  I'm getting schooled in a whole new level of riding out here.  It definitely shakes me out of my comfort zone.  It's unlike road riding or any sort of trail riding I've done before- where I was used to hitting a zone and just zooming high speed because there were no bumps or serious drops to worry about, I find my hands locked on those bars, steering a little twitchily while I navigate around that tree stump and try to keep my eyes focused on the path and not on the 15 foot drop to my left.

I'm sure as I get acclimated, I'll relax and get used to it.  And Dilliard will be back to my favorite trail in no time.

Oh, and by the way... yeah, I think that sermon focus came through after all.

1 comment:

Sarah H. said...

WTG! I am sticking with the kiddie park for now.