One of our favorite trails is a section of single track on the Santa Ana River Trail that runs along the side of the mountain midway between the highway above, and the river below. We like to climb the dirt river road which ascends gently up the canyon, shaded by towering cedars and pines and sprawling oaks. The road crisscrosses the South Fork of the Santa Ana River where fishermen while away hours in pursuit of stocked trout.
We make the trip back down the canyon on the single track which follows the contours of the mountain, undulating into and out of every drainage, some of which used to be perennial streams but are now dry.
A couple of weeks ago, Sally had caught her handlebar on a protruding tree root and had been launched over the side of the cliff in a particularly steep section. She was unhurt but it was quite a struggle to get herself and her bike back up onto the trail.
So, today she wanted to revisit the site and recreate the scene to take some pictures to share with her family, and I eagerly agreed to be her camera man. We had no sooner reached the treacherous turn in the trail, and were preparing to lower her bike into position for the photo, when several young men came riding up the trail. Two of them rode past us without incident, but the third caught his handlebar on the aforementioned root, and before our horrified eyes, was launched heels over head down the same ravine. Fortunately, his bike was caught by a bush at the side of the trail.
I was deeply disappointed that I had not yet been in position with the camera to record his descent.
Thankfully, the wrecks of others do nothing to dampen my confidence and I continued down the trail feeling strong and extremely lucky that today was not my day to wreck. There was only one “oh shit!” moment when an unexpectedly sandy turn threatened to grab the front wheel and hurl me over the bars. Luck and skill averted a spill as I instinctively released the front brake and shifted my weight back without conscious thought. At the end of the ride Sally described an “OS”moment and I knew exactly which turn she was talking about. We congratulated ourselves for having lived to eat again. And so, we went to our favorite Indian restaurant for vegetable koorma and a mango laasi.