I haven’t talked about it ’til now, but I got one really spectacular gift for my birthday: A Canon TX1. It’s a cyclist’s dream camera. 7.1 megapixels, 10x optical zoom, high-def video recording, automatic lens cover when it’s off. Fits very easily in a jersey pocket.
I’ve been bringing it with me most every ride lately. At least, any time I go out riding with friends (note to self: post about the awesome ride Brad and I did a couple weeks ago).
Last Monday I rode a quick “Super Tibble,” as I like to call it — a two hour loop that hits pretty much all my favorite trails in the world: Tibble, Joy, Ridge, Mud. Two hours full of perfect singletrack.
I was riding alone, though, so I made a concious decision: I’d leave the camera behind. I mean, what would I want to take pictures or video of?
I am such a fool.
As soon as I began climbing, I knew I had made an error in not bringing the camera. The colors are starting to change, and when they change around here, they go a little nuts.
The color changes actually made me a little sad this time, though, because they made me think of Kenny missing this ride — and all the Autumn rides. You see, every Autumn, Kenny and I have the same conversation about how Fall is the best time of year for mountain biking. Nobody’s out on the trail anymore, in spite of the weather being much nicer, and the trail no longer being dusty.
And in fact, it was true. Here on the best trail for miles around, and I wasn’t seeing anyone. And the temperature was about 70 degrees. And the trail conditions were perfect: hard-packed, barely tacky. No dust. I wished he hadn’t busted his hip, at least not until the end of Autumn.
I took in the colors and kept going.
The first mile of Tibble Fork is brutally steep. None of it is impossible to ride, but I have threaded it all together without putting a foot down maybe five times, ever. Monday was one of those times.
I kept going, not wanting to break my string of luck, up the next steep part. Cleaned it! Then up the loose S-curve to the first meadow. Still clean! As I rode, several times quail — their neck feathers puffed out like a ruff — dashed across the trail. I wished for my camera again, though I kind of doubt I would have been able to get to the camera in time to get a picture of the fast-running birds.
Then, after miraculously making it cleanly to the second meadow without putting a foot down, I saw something awesome: a four-point elk. A big one. Now, I’m not a hunter, but I do love a good elk steak (my dad is a hunter), so I had mixed feelings on seeing this. On one hand: magnificent, beautiful animal in its element on a perfect day. On the other hand: good eatin’!
Why didn’t I bring that camera?
After finishing climbing Tibble (my climbing streak was broken by the crux move, and then several times on the endless move), I dropped down Joy, loving every second of the perfect state of the trail.
Then, as the trail left the alpine and evergreen forest and opened up into a sloping meadow, my trail was blocked.
By a moose.
To tell the truth, I don’t know whether this was an especially big moose. His rack wasn’t all that big. But even small moose are pretty big.
I stared at it for about two minutes, just kicking myself. I could not believe I had left my camera behind. I would have loved to have brought home video to show to Susan and the kids.
Finally, I decided it was time to get rolling again, but the moose was still there. Right in the middle of the trail. There was no way I was going to roll by and potentially startle something that big, with those long legs.
So I yelled at it.
It turned and stared at me, unconcerned.
I yelled some more.
It turned away from me, no longer interested in what I had to say.
Eventually, it wandered away, and I continued my ride. By the time I finished, I had decided I would come back the following day and do the exact same ride again, this time with the camera.
Of course, you know what happened. Lightning doesn’t strike twice like this. The next day, I saw no quail, no elk, and no moose.
That said, the trail was still awesome, and the weather was still perfect.
And I did at least get a picture of the changing colors on the mountain:
So, not a total loss, I’d say.