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Yesterday, after attempting to play a few rounds of paintball games for the first time, I quickly loaded up my Green Goblin to hit up Lake Norman State Park before the daylight faded.
As I drove to the park I realized I was going to miss probably 30 minutes of the 2:30 ride time that I had planned due to the sun starting to go low beyond the trees. Quickly I came up with a new game plan. The goal was to ride the Itusi and Mambo loops (12 miles) for warm up and then to crank out another lap on Itusi but at a faster pace.
1/4 of the way through the 6 mile Itusi trail I realized that something was happening between the connection of the bike and rider. The last time I felt this type of connection was fall of 2006 when I was living in Brevard North Carolina while working at Cane Creek building wheels. The connection where you flick, the bike goes, flicking and jumping and flowing up and down the curves of the trail. It felt amazing.
Right ear plugged into Black Keys, left ear listening to the cicadas and the creaking of my bottom bracket.
Staying on track with time, keeping my heart rate in check, keeping RPM’s high when going flat or straight and slowing it down while climbing, using basic muscle strength.
Hit last loop, Itusi part II. Rolling into the 2nd inner loop, I see a head a small dog. Slowing, I realized it has stripes. A raccoon, in day light? This isn’t good. It scureys off the trail and I jam it in hopes of not being bit by a rabid striped “dog.” Senses heightened I hear rustling, crap is the thing following me? Look to the left and see three doe deer running right at me.
Wildlife attacking…!!! I jet, pull the headphone out of my ear but keep singing very loudly in hopes that it keeps the deer away!
Cut the route short, sparing my legs 2.5 miles but glad that I didn’t have any more close encounters.
Another work week has come and gone.
Thankfully last night after the close of the business week I found myself with the time to stop by the local trail on my way home from work. The weather has been getting colder in Charlotte, NC and it was rather surprising getting out of the car at 6pm at the trail head with the wind and leaves swirling around the parking log. For the first time in a few years I slid on my favorite Gore Jacket to wear when night riding.
The light was starting to fade as I entered the trail head. I had decided to start off riding the trail clockwise and to turn around to ride backwards on my second lap. My goal was to try and push myself and the gear I was running on the Karate Monkey. Tempting my luck, I left my light off as I pushed myself down the leaf strewn trail. Speed, low light, wet roots and leaves – yes, I was pushing my luck and hoping my guardian angel was along for the ride.
The trail that is on my way home, North Meck, is not a technical one or even a long one and it is the perfect trail to unwind after a long day at work, not a lot of thoughts are needed on this trail, the hardest thing is the sand, wet roots and leaves.
Roughly half way around the 4 mile loop I turned on the sole light I had strapped to my handlebars, my trusted Light & Motion Seca 700, A light that deserves a review on its own. My vision was blurring with the wind, speed and darkness. Coming up was a rooty and rocky area of the trail that I could easily cut a tire or slip out if I was blinded by the lack of light. After the rooty and rocky length of the trail, I came across a few beautiful Golden Receivers running through the creek with their owners straggling behind.
A mile longer on the trail and the lap was finished. As I slowed to take a drink of water, I felt rain drops on my cheeks and a changing of the wind direction. Smartly, after clicking a photo of the Karate Monkey I threw the bike in the back of the car and slid in the drivers seat just as the rain started pouring down.
Photo from GetMountainBiking.co.uk/
When you mention mountain biking to a lady that hasn’t tried it before.. you will most likely get a look of horror and confusion. The sport, growing but not quick enough, is quickly growing for the ladies in the sport. Across the US there are ladies only mountain bike clubs popping up, allowing you to learn and experience the trails with skill clinics, and other women who will allow you to go as slow as you would like. Mountain biking can sound daunting, trees flying by you, dirt and mud. Add the technical features and rocks, it would scare any self preserving woman!