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Firsts

tiger blood.

So far it’s been one race, twenty-one hours on the road, a handful of new friends and another handful of good rides; cactus, sunburn, roadrash, wasted stan’s, bike grease, gas prices- the season’s off to a solid start and things are stacking up before I can write profoundly about them. I guess that’s a good way for things to be- too much navel gazing isn’t healthy.

But I’m still going to write some stuff, for posterity or something.

My race in Saint George was not good. In retrospect I don’t really know why I expected it to be- I lined up two days after crashing my car, driving it for 14 hours, parking it at twilight (not getting a preride) and losing sleep over all my worldly posessions being locked inside. I knew I’d be too tired and stressed to ride super fast, yet with that familiar (delusional) optimism typical of early season, I still hoped for the best.

cool course!

What I got was a first lap tasting blood, a second lap with wooden legs, and a third that, inexplicably, actually felt like racing. Of course at that point it was too late to really make anything happen, but it was cool to feel my body switching to race-effort-mode. That switch never flipped last season, so in my mind it’s a fortuitous start, even though my result technically kinda sucked.

I’ve never ridden (or been) in Saint George before, so on the day after the race I did some significant bike-sploring to get to know it a little better. I set off with a vague goal of four hours and no real idea of where to go, but after another lap on the (way cool) course I was lucky enough to meet some dudes headed out to the “Zen” trail. In my experience, zen things are rarely bad, so I tagged along.

(not the trail)

What followed was a sort of mashup of all my favorite things about Moab, minus the jeeps and yuppies. It started with a ledgy climb up a boulder-studded butte and progressed into some hike-a-biking and missed turns. We popped out on the rim
now and then for spectacular views of the whole valley, then dove back down into a slickrock/portal-esque descent through rocks and scrub. It was a short loop, but it took us a decent amount of time to pick through, and it was so beautiful that it felt dumb to rush anyway. Afterwards we hit up the “Bearclaw Poppy” trail and the “Three Fingers of Death,” which are basically just a endless, flowy series of berms and jumps cruising down the valley. Another lap on the course and I was saying goodbye to my new pals
and Saint George, vowing to come again. Next stop: Sunny(er?) California

The last time I came to SoCal I tried to be fashionably “acceptable,” but that’s not really happening anymore- most of what I wear now has an obnoxious logo on it, is covered in bike grease and/or sweat, and has been worn so many times it looks like elephant skin. I cut my own hair, often wash it with miniature hotel shampoos (the last one had arabic on it!) and when it’s not in a helmet it looks like it should be. In short, I realized my “style” these days is… bad. Just, bad.

So on my way to SoCal on Sunday, I daringly combined four hours of workout sweat with seven hours of solo California freeway driving to accomplish my look for the evening. Luckily I have some friends in Murrieta who love good food, have a spare bedroom, and don’t mind me dragging my dirty, unstylish, smelly self (and muddy bikes) in their door at 9PM. The Mann’s are doing a good job of reminding me why I like bikeland, not the least of which includes (oh yeah!) awesome riding.

Sadly I basically had to sleep for the entire first day and, other than a comatose 1hr spin, was generally useless to the world. Tuesday was a little more lively with a nice road ride through some green tunnels of trees, plenty of sunshine, and of course a characteristic crash in a parking lot for me. I was going all of 2mph but I managed to tear my jersey, cut my leg and roadrash my shoulder. Damn speed bumps.

Wednesday was liveliest of all, with a handful of firsts and a fellow wayward Tokyo Jane.  We had journeyed to the Art Smith trailhead and discovered a girl in the parking lot with my same (TJ’s) shorts- I’ve never met her, but she’d come from Colorado for an annual art show here in CA. Small world! We started off riding together but ended up splitting up. KT if you’re reading this, it was nice to meet you!

Like I said, the ride made for a bunch of firsts. For one, it was the first time I’ve ever actively sought out sunscreen. My bluish-hued Montana skin has been in for quite the shock in the past few days, and in addition to the usual disturbing shorts/farmer tan, I’ve been getting a helmet line that makes me look like I’m growing horns. I wanted to avoid making it worse. It didn’t work.

This ride also marked the first time (ever) that I’ve consumed more water bottles than hours spent on the trail. Then I had my first bonk of the season, my first encounter with cacti, and found the first hill I wanted to walk up and/or curl into the fetal position in order to avoid… I’d forgotten about my Socal nemesis (decomposed granite), which kicked my ass as always. I even had my first real crash on the new machine, which was actually a relief. I didn’t want to start my first big race on an uncrashed bike. Whew!

Despite my impressive collection of firsts, it was a beautiful, flowy trail, and when I wasn’t  desperately sucking down my Sherpa’s water or eating his food, I really enjoyed being out there. I feel so lucky that I get to experience such a variety of climates in such a short time frame, and this desert was a really cool one.

So today it’s another coma ride, some tasty food, and probably a nap (or two). Here’s hoping my race switch flips earlier this weekend in Bonelli!

2 Comments

  1. I feel it! Earlier this year I had a coach describe my personal style as “sloppy ewok”…yeah…in my defense I had been wearing a ski hat for 36hours?

  2. Hey LT. Nice meeting you too! Glad to hear you did so well in Bonelli. I had a great show and am ready to order my new ride:) see ya around.

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