Yesterday was the kind of day I’ve been waiting for all Winter. Shorts and short sleeve weather. Warm, but not hot. Absolute, total weather perfection, on the heels of what’s been an amazingly dry couple of weeks.
It was time for me to head over for my first outing at Corner Canyon. Find out which trails are clear, and which aren’t.
It was time to go mountain biking.
There’s something special about having terrific mountain biking you can get to from your front door (just ask pretty much anyone who lives in the Suncrest neighborhood). And there’s something special about getting back on a trail — after a long absence — you’ve ridden hundreds of times.
So hopefully I can be forgiven for jumping the curb and riding over my neighbor’s lawn in order to get to the trail two seconds faster than I otherwise would have.
I was riding alone, because The Hammer can’t go outside during the daytime for the next couple days for medical reasons (which I assure you is going to drive her crazy). Knowing she would want details on the trail condition, I paid attention.
The climb up Hogges’ Hollows was dry for almost the entire climb, though what little Spring runoff there’s been has cut a deep new trench down the center of the road; the old line is gone forever.
That’s OK, though. A new line is already forming. Obviously, I’m late to the party with this being my first climb of the year up the Hog.
I get to the Saddle, and am amazed. It’s not muddy at all. Every trail I see in every direction looks good. Instead of having to cobble together a ride by working around the routes closed due to mud, I can take my pick of rides.
So I start by heading down Ghost. It’s beautiful. Perfect. The trail is just barely tacky — just enough that my tires get perfect traction, without ever collecting anything at all in the tread.
I smile the whole way down. There’s no descent in the world more perfectly suited for a rigid singlespeed.
I see four or five other cyclists — some going down, some climbing up — as I descend. Everyone looks as happy as I feel. Someone asks me about how Ghost is; I tell him it’s perfect. I ask him about the condition of Clark’s; he says it’s clean.
Nothing but good news all around, so I drop all the way down Canyon Hollow, with the plan to climb Clarks.
I’ve talked about Clark’s trail before. It’s a hard climb, and it’s going to hurt, no matter how you ride it.
If you take it easy, it hurts a little for a long time. If you go hard, it hurts a lot for a slightly shorter amount of time.
On this day, I went for the “hurts a little for a long time” route. I wasn’t necessarily soft-pedaling. I was just enjoying the fact that I was on singletrack on a beautiful day.
Another rider, however, was very clearly not just out enjoying the ride. For whatever reason, he had apparently decided he needed to take this climb balls-out (not literally).
I could hear him coming up behind me, breathing hard.
In his mind, I’m sure he was Lance Armstrong. Making me Pantani. On mountain bikes for some reason.
The trail was wide enough that I could move over to one side and let him by. Which is what I did, and then — as he passed — I said, “How’s it going?”
He was panting too hard, though. Standing and rocking his bike while breathing fast and loud, he barely scraped out a “Hey.”
He was looking straight down at his front wheel. Giving it everything he had to give. Which, I suppose, is why he didn’t see the tree that had fallen across the trail.
The tree that was leaning just perfectly at his forehead height.
Yep, he rode — still at his passing speed, so giving it pretty much all he had — right into the tree. Smacked his head right into it.
Briefly, his bike continued on without him, then decided to wait up.
He, meanwhile, landed and then remained on his butt for a moment. His clock cleaned.
Then he spun around to face me and yelled, “What the hell was that for?!”
I was astonished into speechlessness. Somehow, he blamed this on me? Then in a split second, I understood it all. First, I was witnessing the “fight or flight” response to being attacked in action, and this guy had apparently gone for the “fight” option.
Second, he somehow had linked his accident with me. In his concussed mind, I had — immediately after being passed by him — taken out a brickbat and swung it with all my might at his noggin.
To clarify the situation, I (wordlessly, because I was still speechless) pointed at the tree he had just ridden into, full-tilt.
“Wow,” he said, understanding dawning in his eyes. He continued, “I didn’t even see that.”
Which is kind of a funny thing to say, because how bizarre would it have been if he had seen it, but had decided to ride into it anyway?
He then said, “That thing really cleaned my clock!” Which is what I was thinking, too.
Apparently no longer interested in seeking revenge against me for his hitting his head against a tree, he offered to let me go on ahead.
Hoping to see him crash into other stationary objects further up the trail, I declined.
PS: I should probably point out that in the “Furious Fred” section of today’s post, I am writing from the point of view of the other guy. Which is to say, it was actually me who clobbered the tree with his head. Otherwise, the story is accurate.