by, 05-27-2012 at 04:43 AM (901 Views)
It was about an hour into a supposed 20 minute mountain bike ride that I began to wonder if this trail would ever end. Half the time I was off the bike pushing it uphill sweating and breathing hard. The other half of the time I was hurtling down the sides of cliffs white knuckling it with the bike rattling down rocky steps of the rutted and worn path.
I was grateful at least for that, the path was pretty clear, well not so clear that I was reaching the 1 and a half hour time mark on this 20 minute loop trail. I was actually passed by twice by the same cyclist at that point. I couldn't believe he lapped me and told him so.
He was a real mountain biker with the matching spandex outfit, camel back hydration unit on his back and special super shock absorber bicycle. He said he realized that I was way out of my league on that trail and came by to check up on me ( more like identify the body so he could tell the Ranger what mesa I fell off of.)
His other companions asked if I needed anything and I said I was fine. They were genuinely concerned. They encouraged me and said I was halfway there. HALFWAY!?
No longer playfully stopping to take pictures of butterflies and flowers I began to panic. I had two sips of water left and I was in over my head. I'm sure the city bike and the yoga pants were a dead giveaway. I mustered and continued my now grueling journey onward. Perhaps I should say upward.
While the valley plunges were exhilarating with bone rattling ferocity, the uphill climbs were a hot messy drain.The authentic cyclists peddled upward along the twisting path like spandex clad gladiators leaving me in their superior dust. I barely managed to push the bike up a foot at a time, breathing heavy and sweating.
Sweating was good right?! I mean you aren't supposed to panic until you stop sweating. Jeez, I hope I don't have to end up in some gross survival situation where I have to drink my pee. It was at that deliriously exhausted moment that I secretly hoped a snake would bite me and kill me before I had to drink pee.
I was alone now, not even the faint trace of dust in the air from the other bikers to keep me company. I was peddling so slowly that the butterflies were mocking me by flying circles through the spokes and laughing. I guess I wasn't entirely alone if you count the butterflies...and the buzzards!? Are you kidding me! F#cking buzzards doing areal reconacence on me as I gasped my way along this grossly under marked biking trail.
I'm still moving you rude bastards! I yelled at the buzzards. OK, I'm not really moving but I am resting and breathing! I shook my fists at them and said REALLY?! I kept my sense of humor by thinking of all the survival stuff I could like drinking pee, eating bugs ( yeah, not so cocky now you little punk butterflies.)
About this time I was out of water and sure my hubby was getting scared. I was getting scared. I couldn't see the other cyclists and began to wonder if I had taken some weird path and would end up in another county. I was frustrated at myself for pushing onward when I should have gone back maybe. ( However, being at the halfway point I did want to see the rest of the trail.) Stupid, stupid. I could feel the almost hot tears stinging. My legs ached and the prospect of the survival pee drink was looming as a reality.
Before I could feel sorry for myself I heard a small child crying. Out here in the dessert with only my entourage of hopeful buzzards and my dusty yoga pants and my hurt ego I hear a child crying. I never thought that I would be relieved at this sound but I was. Where there is a child there is sure to be parents, a mini van and perhaps even some water!
God bless that little family. They shared their water and the little boy patted my bike in admiration. They were nearly run over by the super bikers before me. He had been crying because he wanted to say hi to me when he saw me on the other side of the canyon. ( I had take too long to get to them.) I admitted I wanted to cry too. They pointed me in the right direction and I was buoyed up by their kindness to trundle on.
Another 30 minutes of crawling uphill and careening down limestone death stretches of path to go. I picked my way through a twisted shady forest so cool and enchanted I almost forgot how scared I was. I knew I was getting closer to camp. My butt hurt, not from the spine shattering clatter of uneven ground beneath the bike but from my constant clenching whenever I came up to a hair pin curve with a gut sinking drop off cliff.
I felt lucky though. I fell only once and in the grass not the copious cactus. As I pitched over and landed in a sweaty heap I merely said to myself " There you go." I wasn't sorry for myself just amused and tired. A borderline dehydrated out of body experience, I felt like I was watching myself in a really cheap survival movie.
Nearly there and the trail got worse. Steeper, more gravel, sharper turns, random cactus that reached out to grab at your ankles, so evil. I know somebody wrecked 'cause I saw the scrape marks, the skid and the impact in the cactus. This I avoided myself by humbly getting off the bike and walking it along.
I was still in tact. People had been kind to me. The bike was in great shape. Lots of air in the tires. The day was fair and not too hot. I captured several cool pictures on my phone from the adventure. I crested the highest peak and was hit by a glorious view and soughing breeze. Best of all I had phone reception! I fired off a few positive and comforting messages to my husband. He would surly get them when he drove up to the Rangers station to report me missing.
When we finally met back up his distress and concern was as palpable as a sauna. He said very little and held me. We have a new rule in the family now. 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back. No matter where I am I must go back at that time. Poor man he married a fool. A lucky fool!
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