Monday, February 11, 2008

Sweet Ride

Back to the bike ride at Reimers Ranch .

At the gate where we paid the day use park fee, the ranger/park attendant gave us a copy of the trail map and explained the codes for the different trails. Much like ski runs, the trails were color/shape coded. So the "beginner" trail was marked with a green circle, the "intermediate" a blue square, and "advanced" trails were marked with single and triple black diamonds. No problem, we thought. Just stay away from black diamond markers altogether.

Hannah asked how long it would take to ride the less challenging trail, and the ranger said, "About an hour." I asked how difficult the "add on" intermediate loop was that looked like a straight line going around the back side of the hill, and the ranger said, "Well, people tell me that it's one big long coast." A coast? We could do that!

His assurance sealed the deal: we would start out on the beginner trail, take the intermediate trail around the back side of the hill (an "easy coast"), and then finish up on the beginner trail. In all, our ride should cover between 8 and 12 miles of territory. We thought our plan should be easy enough to execute, and since I am a novice mountain biker and it has been a while since Hannah has tackled the trails, we didn't want to over-do it. If it were only that easy.

If you look at the map , you'll notice two blue stars in the middle of the map near the word "Reimers." Those are the entrance and exit points to the trail. Important information. [Incidentally, the ranger map didn't look like this colorful map complete with elevation markings. Having those would have helped.] When the ranger/park attendant showed us a black and white simplified version of the park map, he inadvertently traced his finger in a clockwise pattern beginning with the first star. In actuality, the trail starts at the star on the right and goes counter-clockwise around the hill.

So although we figured out where to start our ride just fine (the trail is a single track that is "one way" clearly marked at the beginning of the trail), we hardly made an informed decision regarding which trail we would tackle. We were thinking that it would be a fairly easy jaunt up hill, and then the majority of the switch-back work would be down-hill. In actuality, we had to navigate through the "intestines" part first. Up hill.

To make a long story short, it turns out that the "intermediate" ride is a combo blue square/black diamond. We did see offshoots to the super duper expert trail, and it was hard to comprehend what else a rider would be required to navigate on that jaunt. Already there we were jumping one to two feet off of rocky slopes, speeding into hairpin turns, and navigating roots, logs, rocks, and larger rocks - mostly wedged between two oak trees that, sometimes, were only a bike width apart. Between five or ten times, we had to heft our bikes up two to three feet ledges. I'm sure there are bikers who could easily jump their bike that high. We couldn't.

All in all, we had to stop quite a bit, but still we had fun. The memorable moments were me almost puking from exhaustion (Hannah was merely exhausted and not puking exhausted; did I mention that Hannah is training to run a marathon in April?), egging Hannah on to take the "sweet jumps" (she never complied), and taking in the spectacular view of the cool blue-green water of the Pedernales River set like a jewel in the bottom of a limestone canyon. We screamed a lot, particularly when going down and back up a hill shaped more like a narrow "U" than a skate board ramp. And we never did find the trail that coasted down the back of the hill. Luckily, we eventually came across a "bail-out" path - which doubles for part of the "race run."

Toward the end of the ride two hours later, I seriously contemplated getting off my bike and walking the last mile. But when I saw the parking lot, I decided to stick it out - especially since I didn't want to humiliate myself in front of fifteen other riders who probably wouldn't be this affected by such an "easy" ride.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

ahh. the memories. i think my legs have recovered.