Springtime at 10,000 feet. Snow snow and more snow. Its May, and I want to ride my bike!! The itch getting too intense to scratch without hitting bone, I took off to Fruita, for some sweet singletrack and even sweeter springtime weather!
My Niner was ashamedly still coated in Afghan dust from last fall – my tried and true belief of ‘less maintenance = less issues’ holding fast. Case in point. Last summer I was taking a trip out to ride in Crested Butte with some friends. My brakes had been squeaking for close to year. I liked it as it let those in front know I’m still rubber side down. Not everyone else agreed so I took it in to get the brake pads replaced as I had no idea how that was done and didn’t want to screw it up. Halfway into the second ride of the weekend, my brakes were squealing worse than before at a pitch that seemed to be disturbing the local fauna. Turns out, one of the pads had literally fallen out. Now, if I had just left the pads as they were, nearly bald and definitely noisy, I would have at least still had two working brakes. Now I was in Crested Butte with only one brake and stupid Hope brake pads that no one in town sold my version of.
Let’s face it, I ride a singlespeed because its SIMPLE. Oil the chain, carry a spare tube, and you should be good to go. As a converted trail runner, I only made the switch because a friend got me on a singlespeed. If it had had gears, I am sure I’d still be spending the majority of my time on the trails on my feet, not 29’er knobblies.
So – back to Fruita. I unloaded my bike, adding another layer of oil to my chain – whose lovely, dusty orange color matches what’s left of my tangerine paint job. I was riding Mary’s Loop/Horsethief, and is its my favorite, it was the second time in 3 days. I had convinced boyfriend to join me for a repeat loop (which he amazingly acquiesced to despite having just raced 18 Hours of Fruita, perhaps his sleep deprived delirium made him unable to really consider what I was asking him).
We took it at an easy pace, for my untrained legs, and his empty ones. The sun was shining, the trail was fast, and I was thinking about all the ‘shop talk’ during the 18 hours of race banter between our two teams of racers. I’m about as skilled in technical riding as I am keen to do bike maintenance. I have a 29’er so I can bash up most things, and my strength as a hill climber makes up for riding the brakes on the descents. But talk turned to a recent skills clinic that one our friends had done. We shared some hints on descending better and cornering and as I was determined to make this a break through year, I listened intently.
That’s the great thing about solo or tandem rides, without the banter of the group you can get into your own head and your own body and try to find a rhythm, try more than once on certain sections requiring technical skill, or simply focus on that wonderful feeling of sun on your face and dirt under your wheels. I emerged from the trail unscathed, and feeling like I was ‘strong like horse’. The jeep road climb out was fine and at the top I was feeling cocky as I picked off riders, many of them in flat pedals, many walking their bikes up, another a pregnant woman with flip flops on. Still.
As it always is with such things, its the ego that gets you. Glad to be topped out and almost to the car, so we could pack up the bikes and make the long drive to lunch at our refueling place, Larkburger, I ripped down the jeep road – thinking of burgers and sunshine and the silly woman in flat pedals going about 2 miles an hour down the road. Watching her basically come to a stop before taking the corner into the parking lot, I thought of the skills lessons on cornering and decide to rip on by.
NOTE TO SELF: Do not practice downhill cornering on a gravel road with a 90 degree turn and your mind on hamburgers and flat pedals.
Long story short. I crashed. Hard. Ripped off half my forearm after coming to skidding halt in the gravel. Flat pedal girl, asks, “are you okay?” scared that I may have put her off moving beyond her 2 mph speed limit, I gingerly got up and said, “yup, I’m good, thanks.” I looked down and saw what looked like hamburger where my forearm had just been and sat back down. Boyfriend turned around, taint swollen from racing through the night and deliriously tired, and sighed. “I’ll get the Shannon first aid kit.”
Cleaning up – it was hard to tell what was me, what was gravel, and was simply not to be messed with using supplies stashed in the back of the truck. After boyfriend sat down to control the waves of nausea the raw meat had generated, I gave it one more inspection and agreed that perhaps a hospital visit was in order. But it was Sunday and I’m too cheap to fork out for an ER visit when a clinic visit in the morning will do – so I wrapped it up, the irony of the cause and effect of the crash not lost on me, and declared, “whose ready for a juicy hamburger?” Larkburger here we come!