Yesterday I felt it was necessary to get out on a mountain bike ride. Necessary so that I don't get absolutely killed in the mountains of Utah. Necessary so as to sharpen my skills before my trip out west. Necessary because...well...I hadn't been on my mountain bike since the weekend prior to the Hardcore 24 - when I decided to inhale an entire tuna sub then subsequently pre-ride the race course feeling like I was going to die from a distended stomach. Calculating it now, it had been over a month since my last mountain bike ride. How does time go by so fast? How have I managed to go an entire month without riding Vlad? I have been road riding quite a bit and running some here and there, but mountain biking is my favourite! It's my first choice in outdoor activities! Has it been the rain and wet trails that have prevented me from the winding through the woods? Or the fact that I have been working odd hours resulting in my being tired more than normal? Honestly I don't have an answer to any of these questions. All that was obvious to me was that I needed to ride yesterday. And ride I did.
I had it set in my mind that I would go to Dryer Road and drop down some fun trails, wind back up, drop down again, repeat. Wednesdays are group ride days with my boss and some of his friends. When work and time permits I love to ride with them as they are pretty fast, they all have great technical skills and they're just a fun group to ride with. Yesterday no one could make it except for my boss and I - so I suggested Dryer because I am comfortable there and I had my mind set on riding there (and once my mind is set...). Well, it began raining and raining some more then the rain turned into a steady mist creating muggy, humid and most likely messy trail conditions. Talking to my boss he said he didn't want to ride Dryer wet because the trails get too torn up and I agreed. So during this conversation he and I pretty much had resigned to not riding when he throws out "Hey let's ride Tryon. If it's too muddy we'll just stop". Yikes! I haven't ridden in over a month and he wants to ride the most technical park in the area?!?! - and it's raining which means all the rocks, roots, bridges will all be slimy and the steep hill climbs will all be washed out!
Even though I consider myself a competent rider, I still consider Tryon a humbling park. No matter how great I feel and how great my technical skills are, this place always tends to kick my ass. If it's not the super-steep, lung-burning, quad-firing climbs then it's the balance beam ledges with sheer drops on one side (which I have fallen down - a nice tree stopped me and left me a little [giant] reminder of it's kindness on my thigh) or the many rocky stream crossings...*sigh*. I really didn't want to go and get my ass handed to me leaving me in negative mental state for my impending trip. But I had to go and be tough - after all I can't wuss out on my boss since no one else was riding and it was necessary for me to ride, remember?
We started out in a new technical section that had been built since the County legalised mountain biking in this park (a hard fought battle that we won! yay!). I hadn't ridden these new trails yet - it seemed there were piles of them everywhere we looked...and they were AWESOME! Even with the mist and humidity (the kind where everything sticks to you, the kind that makes each breath almost soupy, the kind that brings out millions of mosquitoes, the kind that gives you swamp ass before you even start the ride...) it was an amazing ride. The trails were wet in some parts but mostly hard packed. The roots and rocks were covered in a slimy, damp coating, but Vlad just flew over them without any issues. The stream crossings were deeper than usual but the water felt so good on my over-heated calves. As I rode through the trees their branches, wet with rainwater, cooled my arms in the most welcome way. We had to end due to loss of day light and my boss's need to get home to his family but I could have kept on riding. I hadn't felt that great since the weekend Trevor and I rode Shindagin (I still haven't recapped that trip - but it was INCREDIBLE!). The 15 minute ride home was the perfect cool down and mental recap time. I got home feeling great about my skills, thankful that I haden't lost my mountain mojo and even more excited for Utah!