Bob and I took off early from work to go complete the ride we had flatted out of last week. You see, Crop Circles is just part of an incredible little network of trails in Renton, WA. The other three, Tapeworm, Parasite, and Mr. DNA, follow the same trail philosophy: squeeze as much trail as possible into the smallest possible space.
The result? An incredibly twisty trail where you are almost always entering or exiting a hairpin turn, climbing or descending a short (but steep) hill, threading your handlebars between close trees, riding over roots and logs, or working on one of the constructed moves.
It was glorious.
Until yesterday, I was ambivalent about the idea of having human-constructed moves as part of a ride. I mean, aren’t the moves that occur naturally good enough? Do we really want to turn a beautiful trail into an eyesore?
Now, however, I am firmly in favor of building cool little moves into trails — owner permission permitting, of course.
This change of heart happened when I swallowed my fear and rode up and over a see-saw. The board is about nine inches wide and about eight feet long, with the fulcrum about eighteen inches high. As you ride up the first time, you naturally think that the board will tip as your body passes the fulcrum.
You keep riding up, wondering when it’s going to go. Then, just about as you stall out, the board tips suddenly. Wham! In an instant, you go from pointing straight up to rolling straight down.
It was a rush. Bob and I rode the see-saw at least a half-dozen times each. That slow…slow…slow…FAST feeling never got old.
A Clean, A Crash, And A New Term Defined
Next up, riding up and over a very narrow series (three inches or so) of slats, nailed together on a board and leaning on a log — like a very skinny ladder. Then you go down the other side on a similar series of slats.
I only tried this move once, because I cleaned it on the first try, much to Bob’s amazement.
Alas, the story does not end there.
I brought quite a bit of speed into this move, figuring it would be easy to keep the straight line necessary if I had momentum. This was correct, but it meant that I was going pretty fast as I came off the last slat. Unfortunately, I had not scouted out the rollout for this move, and it turned out to be a rooty ledge drop with a sharp right turn.
I endoed spectacularly.
I instinctively grabbed for a tree branch as I was in the air. This was a bad idea, since I grabbed with my bad shoulder — the one that dislocates just for the hell of it. I heard a “snap,” which, I thought as I flew, was a good thing, since a full-on dislocation sounds more like “SKRROPP.”
You know how there’s a spot on the inside of your knee that if you hit, hurts much worse than it ought? Sort of the knee-equivalent of your funny bone? Well, as I continued my brief flight, that’s the part of my knee I banged hard against my top tube.
I stayed on the ground for several minutes, rocking back and forth, willing myself not to scream and waiting for the pain-induced nausea to subside.
This gave Bob time to think.
“You have just experienced,” Bob said, “what I term a ‘Peak Confidence Event.’ (PCE)” Bob went on to explain that a PCE is what happens after you crash and suddenly find yourself very timid on all moves for the rest of the ride. It is mathematically impossible for your confidence to return to the level it was at just before you crashed.
Bob speaks the truth. It’s a good term for a mountain biking axiom. PCE: Make a note of it and integrate it into your lexicon.
Eventually, I felt good enough to ride again, though gingerly. There were more fun constructed moves ahead of us, and I had to decide whether to try them. I figured that PCE or no, I would at least give them the three tries allotted me.
There were several bridges and curvy ladders made of slats, most of which were not difficult. There was a two-foot high stack of logs tied together that looked forbidding. Bob gave me an excellent tip: it’s easier than it looks. Bearing that in mind, I just rode over it.
There was a 10-foot-long log. I cleaned it on the first try. There was an uphill ledge followed by a pair of logs. I missed it on my first and second try, but then — hooray — cleaned it on my third. It was at this point that I coined an axiom of my own: When doing a three-try move, it is best to get it on the first. Failing that, it is better to get it on the third try than the second, because it’s more dramatic. If you get it on the second try, really you’re just demonstrating that it wasn’t that hard of a move to begin with and you should have gotten it on the first try.
Bob and I are not only extremely excellent riders, we’re very, very smart.
Thank You, Dahon
The Dahon Flo I’ve been riding was a dream this whole ride. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so confident on a bike (at least, until the PCE). It’s not just a good bike for travelling; it’s one of the best mountain bikes I have ever ridden. Who would have ever expected that from a break-apart bike?
Moment of Pride
There is one slat-type bridge that I would not have thought I’d clean. That’s because you have to wheelie up to it — about 20 inches, I think — using a single log as a ramp, then heave your rear wheel up onto it and continue riding a nice straight line, so you don’t fall off the side of the one-foot-wide bridge.
I got it on my third try.
One Last Epiphany
I could write tons more about yesterday’s ride, which reminds me of why I write this blog. I need to spend more time riding, or this blog is going to start getting very boring.
Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Contest
For today’s Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Contest, you must do two things:
- Tell me of a bike-related epiphany you have had. Or failing that, describe a biking axiom.
- Guess my weight.
There will be two prizes: One for the best epiphany / axiom, another for the person who comes closest to guessing my weight, which will — once again — become a daily feature starting tomorrow, along with the Fat Cyclist Weight Loss Sweepstakes.
Bonus Additional Reading About Yesterday’s Ride
Today, Bob wrote an excellent Top 5 about yesterday’s ride. Read it now.