We have a great set of trails about 20 minutes from my house that are semi-technical in nature. There is nothing really crazy like drops or ledges but its not a smooth flowy trail. There are lots of rocks and roots. There are lots of steep sections that range from little kickers to larger climbs with a bunch of switchbacks on them. There are bridges and stream crossings. Its a fun place to get out and play. I am also starting to think that I am jinxed when I go out to those trails.
I rode those trails once last year and came home bleeding with a broken bike. I haven’t been back since then. Mostly because it takes some time and effort to get out there. I seamed to be busy this year whenever I wanted to go. But Bailey was looking to ride something harder than we had been riding and I wanted to spend some time with him before I leave for a couple of months. So out we went on Saturday.
Bailey’s experience was an exercise in frustration. Learning how to keep momentum on the short steep kickers, often not getting up those hills, but sometimes succeeding. Learning how to get up and down switchbacks. Again often not making the corners but sometimes doing so. Balancing over narrow bridges. He had a good time and wants to go back even though it was a tough day for him on the bike. Good for him. I was glad to see that. The ride was perfect for him.
Me? I am not sure I want to go back there. Things were going fine until about an hour into our ride. I was enjoying being on my bike and riding with Bailey. Yeah it was frustrating to me to have Bailey stall out in front of me which forced me off my bike. Yeah, I was ready to go a little faster and try the place out for real. But…..
You know, its been a pretty good year for me riding. I have not really wrecked myself on on trails this year. Sure I have a pretty good set of scars on my arm from a run in with a tree earlier this year, but that was bad luck and not really bad riding (something about running into a blown-down tree around a blind corner). That kind of ended Saturday.
I went down a little hill and onto some flat rocks that crossed a stream. After the stream is a steep bank that you have to get some momentum on to get up. I stood to pull myself up the bank, applied some power to the pedals and wham. My foot came unclipped from my pedal. This in and of itself is not a problem except that the momentum of my leg drove my knee into the top tube on my bike. My knee exploded into pain. I stopped to gather myself. Bailey looked back and asked if I was ok.
I knew what had happened and I thought that it was just a bruise. (Still I didn’t look down because I didn’t want to know). Just give me a minute. I put my head down and just breathed for a minute or so. We were about a mile from the car. And then I got back onto my bike and started pedaling. After a little bit it loosened back up enough that I was able to get up the hills and finish the ride. We loaded up the bikes and headed home.
By the time we got home I had cooled down and my leg stiffened up to the point where it was hard to bend my knee at all. Downerville State Forest strikes again.
Addendum #1: My knee is fine. It’s just bruised. Some ice and advil have really helped it out. I rested yesterday and will give it a go today. Probably light, but who knows.
Addendum #2: I was not the most injured person out there Saturday. When Bailey and I were finishing our ride I heard a kid scream and then start crying. I biked quickly over to where I heard the sound. There was a little boy (like 8 or so) with dirt on his face and blood on his lips crying. His mom and dad were there. They had taken him riding. The boy had gone down a steep hill and hit a rock. He launched himself about 10 ft over the handlebars of his bike. The kid was on a kids bike with 18″ wheels. I said to the dad (while looking down at the small bike with no suspension and the crying kid), “Have you guys ever been out here before? This is not the easiest place to be biking.” “Yeah, we were just going to go ride Slingshot.” Slingshot is a steep switchbacked downhill section of the trails. Humm….. I am pretty sure there was a discussion in that car on the way back home based on the look the mom gave the dad.