Monday, November 10, 2008


Friday Roadie Steve and I took a friend on his first real mountain bike ride. Being the kind and considerate people that we are we may have gotten down to the shop a little bit late, but we decided to make this up by driving to the top of FS 90 rather than making our poor newbie ride from Damascus to the top. After taking our friend's truck to the top of the mountain and getting the bikes off we set out down the backside of FS 90 and I was immediately struck by how slow our newbie was going... this was going to be a long day.

As we hit the first bit of single track my outlook changed, Roadie Steve shot off the front and I held the rear to clean up any messes but he did just fine. We moved slowly but consistently for quite some time, and it wasn't until the rocks got off cambered with roots cutting through than our newbie even put a foot down.

We continued along feathercamp ridge for quite some time watching the sky get darker and darker, and I must say regretting the fact that I hadn't tossed the trinewt into my bag, it's not like I don't have space. The trail was getting harder to see, and often I was simply trusting the bike to take the bumps that my eyes were failing me on. At this point I knew that we were in trouble, because we hadn't hit my favorite trail yet, and it gets dark early on beachgrove.

At the top of beachgrove it was beginning to transition from dusk to dark, still I announced, though I'm sure nobody cared, that I was intending to get down this thing without tapping. I took the lead and was heading down the trail at approximately 1/5 of my regular speed. Despite my care in picking lines, on the third switchback I put my foot down for the first time. The trail was dark enough that I was only picking up vague shape and contours with my eyes and was then using my knowledge of the trail to pick the best way through (and to figure out where the heck I was). Once I got through the last rock garden, where I had to tap twice, I started really moving for several reasons:

1. I was almost out of here

2. It's relatively flat from here on out

3. The moon can get through the lack of leaves down here and now I can see a little bit better

As I'm sure you know from watching Robin Hood Men in Tights, thinking you can see and actually being able to see are two different things, which is why with about 200 yards left to go on the trail I hit something, locked up the back wheel trying to save the fall, and then ended up spinning out the bike. I ended up hitting a tree sideways... with the back wheel of the bike pointing down hill and the front pointing up. Once I got over the "what the heck happened" aspect of not being on the ground with the bike in the wrong direction I uneventfully made it out to the road, where I had to wait for quite some time before our poor abused newbie and Roadie Steve got out.

With only 4 miles on the Creaper Trail between us and the shop and enough moonlight to almost see we cruised back into town, often two abreast... although incoming headlights on more than one occasion threatened to cause me to ride off the trail and trestles were not much fun.
To be honest with you as a mountain biker I considered this to be great fun, and while I am hitting myself for not having my light with me... there is not guarantee this won't happen again. As to the all important question of weather Stephen will ever ride with us again... well that remains to be seen, but come on don't you want to join us on our next ride. OK, not the next one, Steve already wrote about that.


Beck Drap said...

I suppose the good news as we read these horrifying (to those who love and care for you) accounts is that you made it back in one reasonably sound piece to post about the events!!!