Nice and Easy

Yesterday I climbed 2500 feet over 4 miles of singletrack in 90 degree heat.  Those numbers make for a 12% average grade.  It was pretty jacked.

There I was somewhere in the Six Rivers Forest riding with a group of guys I didn’t really know.  They called me the baby of the bunch and I was.  They talked about their kids and their wives while I smiled and nodded.

The guy who’d been wearing multiple pieces of century ride schwag and the other who looked like a skeletal roadie took off on the climb and I never saw them again til the top.  I suffered in the back of the group, not wishing to push so hard, but it’s not easy when the trail’s so steep, and you’re climbing up a ditch of loose marbles covered in leaves, dodging poison oak while  sweating sunscreen into the corners of your eyes.

The ultrafit men took off to complete a bigger loop while the rest of us were content to bomb back down through the madness we’d ascended.  I had the biggest bike so I took the lead and soon I was off like a mechanical rabbit before hounds.  The trail was pretty raw, not well maintained and seldom ridden.  But lately I’ve been riding ultra groomed, neat trails like Paradise Royale and the Arcata Community Forest.  So I approached the High Dome trail with perhaps the wrong mindset.

I went into the switchbacks way too hot and it was all I could do to lock the wheels, exclaim and hope for the best.  But I kept doing it, I couldn’t learn.  I was being chased.  I was having fun.  I was going really really fast.

Then I got ejected from my mountain bike.  I’m not sure what happened, I think a limb grabbed my bars and steered me off the trail.  There was no correcting it, it was a case of instantaneous flight.  I was laid out head first, flying like superman when time stretched.  I wondered what was going to happen.  I had time to think, “this is really bad” more than once.  Then I thought:  no no no no no no. Somehow I managed to penetrate deep into a twisted thicket while missing the bigger branches.  Like a human football kicked for a goal.

When I came to a rest I lied still while awaiting the damage report.  It felt a little like I was underwater, down in the bushes, looking up at the trail.  Like most crashes, it was highly surreal:  where am I?  How did I get here?  It doesn’t make sense.

Gradually my senses reported:  okay.  I was okay.  I wiggled out of the bushes and examined my bike:  it was okay.  I examined my arms:  scrapes, okay.  Mysterious pains, a fountain of adrenaline, but nothing broken. Okay.