It seems like it’s been raining for weeks but in reality it’s only been raining on weekends for weeks. So, for three weekends in a row, I’ve been off the bike.
Four weeks of rest takes a noticeable toll on one’s fitness level and technical skill level. However, the sandy trails are compacted into a downhiller’s dream, allowing speed and cornering that inspire confidence…even recklessness. The wash trails are made even more technical by newly exposed rocks, recent abundant growth in foliage, and ruts that used to be trail.
One of our favorite trails had completely disappeared, eaten up by a newly formed channel.
There’s a stretch of our route that takes us briefly to Hwy 38, where we are forced to ride on the side of the road through a narrow gash cut through the hillside. It’s only a few hundred feet, but the traffic is fast and heavy, especially on a three-day weekend when the ski resorts are open. We leash the dogs and pedal as fast as we can, hoping that the oncoming drivers will have more concern for the dogs than they might for two stupid women riding bikes on the narrow shoulder. Leading up to this sprint, is a steep, rutted bank that takes everything we’ve got to pedal up.
I had Sadie on the leash because of the proximity to the traffic, as I labored up the squishy, rain-softened hill. Near the top, a rock-strewn rut opened up and I downshifted to my lowest gear to try to stay above it on the off cambered slope. Just before the summit, I stalled. Clipping out of my pedal with great alacrity, I caught myself before falling into the rut, but the front of the bike wheelied off the ground and we began falling back down the embankment. I hopped on one leg in a fruitless attempt to stop my descent with Sadie doing her best to stay out of my way. When my third hop planted my foot in the rut, my leg buckled and the bike landed uphill from me.
Sadie stood as far away as her leash would allow, puzzling at the unfamiliar expletives that poured out of my mouth. It must have seemed like a strange place to take a break but she didn’t question my reasoning for lying with my feet uphill from my body and my traitorous bike lying inertly on top of me. Sally kindly asked if I needed help rising and took me at my word that I could extricate myself as soon as I could assess if there was any damage. As is normal in slow tip over crashes, the pain soon subsided and we were on our way.
Returning that same way, I released Sadie’s leash as soon as we approached the rut, allowing her to drop behind as I rode down the steep bank. We continued a couple of hundred yards away from the highway and then I stopped to remove Sadie’s leash. We waited for Sally to catch up. We waited, and waited, and finally, Sally rode into view, wet dirt clinging to one side of her jacket. She had been pulled off balance by Mango trying to avoid the rut, which pulled her front tire into it. Over the bars she went, in the same place I’d gone down.
A crash that results from having too much fun, also known as riding too fast for one’s skill level or trail conditions, confers bragging rights. But stupid crashes are demoralizing and confidence shattering. Thankfully, neither of us incurred injuries that will make these tumbles memorable to our geriatric brains.