My heart got more than a little stomped and all I wanted to do was curl up on the uncomfortable hotel bed and wait for lovely empty abyss of sleep. Instead, I gave the bed a longing look and dragged myself back outside to my car and dug through the bag in the trunk for some bike shorts and jersey. Telling myself its a rare thing for this mountain girl to ride her Niner in February, I searched halfheartedly for my ipod, bike cleats, and arm warmers.
I drove out to Lyons with a haze of numbness and Eddie Vedder’s ‘Hard Sun’ on repeat. Pulling into the trailhead to Hall Ranch I took a deep breath, grabbed my shuffle and cued up Linkin Park, Kings of Leon, and 311. I pulled my bike out of the back and internally debated whether or not this rare winter ride would be less painful if I had some gears.
The ride starts out climbing and immediately turns into tight singletrack switchbacks that focus my brain to the task at hand – rocks, lots of them, littering the trail, threatening to buck my Niner off the trail. Standing up out of my seat, “Down” comes on the shuffle and I drive my pedals over and over with determined resolve. Seeing a couple of guys on geared beauties that had left the trailhead a solid five minutes ahead of me. I fire up and steadily reel them in, giving them a little wave and a ‘have a good ride’ as I pass them convincingly. They grunt in return. The first smile of the day spreads across my face.
The trail spits out onto a rock strewn jeep trail and I literally charge the hill. A short downhill helps me recover my breath and get ready for the really good stuff…the lollipop loop of singletrack which starts with more climbing. To my delight the lollipop is clear of snow and mostly dry until the top. Then the mud begins to coat the underside of both me and my Niner – until the descent dislodges it by spraying it onto my front side and face.
‘Bleed it Out’ queues up as I fly down the backside feeling the mud grit my teeth as my smile widens and my gaze narrows in concentration. Wiping out here would be painful and ruin the endorphin kick I’m feeling.
I arrive crash-free and triumphant to the car. I start to pack in the bike and realize that for the first time since going to bed the night before I was thinking of something else.
Back to the hotel in Boulder.. I was left alone with my thoughts which promptly returned to the currently scheduled program. Sleep arrived and with the morning, the ache was a little less distinct, but still oppressive. Pressing snooze more than a couple of times, I forced myself out the door to start a morning of meetings, and as I closed the hotel room door I realized that my road bike was on top of my car by a fluke of the previous day’s happenings. I took it down and threw my messenger bag across my shoulders – cycling downtown with a smile playing at the corners of my mouth.
Immediately following the meetings – which I vaguely recall – I immediately got back to the car and my Niner and steered both back to Lyons for a repeat, hoping for the same reprieve. Miraculously – the ‘trick’ worked again. Same soundtrack, same trail, same sneaky rocks, same wonderful concentration that blocks out all else.
Singletrack DOES heal all wounds, or at least applies some salve. Back home to the mountains where the freshly falling snow awaits me and my skis. I wonder if Pali can work the same magic as Hall Ranch?