Remember the mountain bike race I was interested in doing? Well, today was one of the days the course was open for pre-riding. I am going to be in New Mexico for the second date, so today was the day.
I chose the Sonata as the car I would take, mainly because as long as I have owned it, I have never had it out on the road to travel out of town. I wanted to see how it felt on the curvaceous Hwy. 87, the one I love so much. I had to drop the back seat to fit the bike in, and take off the front wheel, but the bike and my gear fit fine. I also like having that bike inside and protected.
When I got the Sonata on the highway, I was so pleased. It felt great and handled wonderfully. I like to use the best lines in each curve, and the car went willingly and happily into each one.
I like how the Hyundai symbol looks sort of “Batman”:
Desmond and I got to Rimside Grill outside of Pine, AZ. Only it wasn’t Rimside anymore, it was something else. Same owners, apparently, but different menu. We had lunch there and I talked to a couple of guys who had just come from the mountain bike course. I’m glad I did, because I would have missed the tiny course markers if I hadn’t.
I also took a photo of this interesting moth as it was on the ground near our outside table:
It was so beautiful and interesting. Too bad it turned out to be dead.
Anyway, the course was on a forest road, which to me is a big sin and not really mountain biking, but I thought I would eventually get to singletrack. Meanwhile, I climbed a couple of miles of an 8% grade.
View from the top. Oh it was all happy and nice then!
Finally, I reached the top and went down the other side. After that, I turned right onto private land, open only for this race, and began to climb again! It was a gradual climb this time, and still on a road. After a couple of miles of that, the course turned left, and I was faced with a climb that went straight up!
It took me about 1/2 an hour to get up this thing, it was at least a 10%. When I got near the top, the sky opened up and a deluge of rain poured down on me while lightning flashed. I kept going up, though, and it started to get muddy. Unfortunately, when I got to the top, I found that there was no trail! I must have missed the miniscule signs farther down, so there was nothing for it but to go back down, after all that suffering!
The mud was thick clay, and soon my wheels packed up. The rear wheel was not turning anymore, just sliding. I said “F*ck it,” got on the bike anyway, and the rear wheel slid sideways most of the way down the steep grade. I was kind of controlling it, and then the rain stopped. I saw where the trail went and turned there. And got into more, deeper, mud!! I went down a ways, though, because I thought the 2-track might finally turn into singletrack. It didn’t. Then I realized I was going to have to turn around and back-track. It was the only way out because the mud was impossible. I ended up dragging the bike all the way back to the road. The bike was super-heavy, too, because that mud weighed a lot.
I called Desmond and let him know what was happening, and he said he would bring the car closer to where I was. That was going to help, but I still had a few miles of climbing (again) to ride myself out. It was too rough to bring the car in any farther. I used a rock to clean as much mud out of the space between the bike frame and the rear wheel as I could so at least it would roll. I got back on the bike then and a lot of the mud flung itself off as I rode. It flew everywhere, on my face, my legs (already dirty anyway), my helmet, my shorts, my Camelbak … You get it. I found mud in the most interesting places when I later took a shower at home.
Another hour passed before I got back to the car. I was “done” by the time I got there. If I’d been anyone but me, I would have been dead, but I have a lot of endurance and toughness, so I made it. Here are some photos:
The mud on my bike. A lot of it was gone by then, but at the height of the experience, I was more concerned about riding myself out than taking photos!
It doesn’t look like a “disco ball” anymore! Told you it wouldn’t stay clean.
My shoes. How did they even work?
I had just enough time to scrape as much remaining mud off the bike as I could before I loaded it into the clean car, and change out of my muddy clothes, before another huge rainstorm hit. I drove the Sonata slowly down the steep, narrow, winding forest road, and back to Pine. I desperately hoped that it would not hail and dent my car! Thankfully, it didn’t.
We stopped in again at what I call “The Restaurant Formerly Known as Rimside,” (I can’t remember what its new name is) for some energy. While we were there eating peach cobbler (we split it!), the storm came in, and it was obvious the whole area was under seige! The power even went out a couple of times.
Soon we got rolling down the hill toward home, and I enjoyed the Sonata as I drove. When I got home, I had some cleanup to do before the sun went down:
I got all my toys cleaned up and put away, then I started on the motorbike I will be riding tomorrow. It’s Jewel, and I aired up her tires and started her up. She’s been sitting since I rode her home from Alpine at the end of June. Of course she started without a problem. What a great motorbike.
I had a good mountain bike ride today, even though it was not quite what I expected. I never found the elusive singletrack, and I will not be doing this race. At least I got to ride, though, even though a lot of it was almost … painful. Sometimes it’s necessary to just man up and ride out!