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  1. #1
    Ska
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    My Cold Wet Foot. Loooooooooooong ride report.

    Sometimes I wonder why I type this stuff out but itís then that I realize that my short adventure was good enough to share. I type away trying to describe the events of the day in hopes that at least a hand full of folks who like to read about rides will, for at least the amount of time it takes to read it, be taken away and come along for the ride. Problem is, as I always say, I find my writing skills are lacking in comparison to so many on this site but I still do my best to paint the pictures Iím seeing in my mind and convey the feelings Iím feeling. I realize that nowadays most will see the length of the post, skim the photos and move on without reading past the first paragraph but I do my part nonetheless. After watching the board, for the most part, fill with questions lately that lack any real substance and debates, albeit entertaining, go on for days while not really going anywhere I felt Passion needed a little boost so Iím going to try stoking the fire a little. Get out, ride and come back and tell us about it. There are so many out there that have an incredible talent for putting their thoughts into words (or their rides onto film) and I can only wish to be as talented when it comes to stringing those words (or photos) together. To those who have been posting, thanks, Iíve been reading and looking.

    Despite my mentioned shortcomings, hereís my attempt at some passion related stuff from Saturdayís outing.

    A quick mental scan of my riding buddy list knocked it down to less than 4 candidates. The filter on this particular occasion was rather fine. The first condition which sliced 90% of the list was the fact that I had to be on the road headed to my favorite trail by 6:30am and the second which took care of the rest of the list was the speed at which I wanted to do the trail. My plan was to do two fast loops in time to make it back for a family thing (dadís 65th) starting at around 2pm. Being a Saturday morning, most of said friends would certainly be in no condition to ride that early in the day let alone at almost race pace. It didnít take long (only 4 phone calls) before my short list was exhausted and my ride plans were changed to a solo outing. Extra provisions would now need to be packed but it actually didnít bother me too much in this case. Now I could go at my pace and not feel pressured. I donít normally like to rush my rides but in this instance there was no alternative. It had to be done this way or Iíd have to settle on spending my day doing yard work and shopping. Which would you choose?

    I arrive at the trailhead at 7:40am and get out stretching the highway from my legs. Iím surprised to see a couple of hikers coming out of the woods (they must have been hiking in the dark if they did the entire loop) as I let out a big yawn and try to rub the red from my eyes. As soon as my mouth closes I excuse me rudeness and say good morning. My fresh bold cup of coffee and the 1 hour drive did nothing for me as I felt as though I had just rolled out of bed and stood up. Itís usually a bad sign when you feel like this before a ride. I make my way to the back of the car and quickly realize that, despite checking over and over like someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder what I had packed the night before, I had forgotten my towel that I use for changing. My changing tactics now had to be quickly refigured. A swift run to the back of the car in the cold morning air while the coast was clear gave me just enough time to change from my old torn blue jeans and black CBGBís ĎTí into my tights and riding shirt before hearing a ďgood morningĒÖÖĒgiggle giggle giggleĒ from behind and it scares the hell out of me. I follow the sound of the giggling and see two twenty-something girls come around the corner who had also, presumably, been hiking the trail in the dark. I acknowledge them and Iím convinced they were completely aware of the look of concern on my face. What were they giggling at? I felt an incredible urge to yell out ďThe air is really cold this morning!!Ē like George Costanza did in the episode where he was seen after getting out of the pool. You know the one.

    Unfortunately for me, the cold air wouldnít change much at all if Iím to be totally honest ;-/

    Anyway, I shake my head with embarrassment (or should I spell it em-bare-ass-ment) being fairly certain I had just given them a show. As I continue to change I watch them as they walk down the road to see if they are with the other group of hikers that had passed not long before. At this point Iím putting my shoes on standing on one leg as I do so. Just as they reach the vehicles parked a little ways down amongst the other group, the Velcro from my right shoe grips my sock as I try to put my foot in. I loose my balance and try to grab the corner of the car to catch myself and completely miss. This then forces me to put my foot down: something I was trying to avoid at all costs. The reason is simple. Looking out over the nicely trimmed lawn of the parking area, you could see the sun shining through billions of droplets each clinging to its respective blade of grass. They looked like diamonds spread over a nice green blanket of felt. It goes without saying then that, despite being picturesque, my sock wouldnít go well in the middle of it especially on a morning as cold as this.

    The Velcro grips my sock and my sock holds on to the Velcro and itís two against one - no fair! My shoe is ripped from my hands and I almost roll my ankle as I half step on itís side when it hits the ground. My foot is instantly soaked and my socked foot leaves a perfect size 9.5 print in the pristine piece of water art. I curse as now I have to ride the loop with a cold wet foot. The chuckles start up again in the distance. I look up. The entire group had just witnessed that little scene as well. The man of the group (I assume the dad) yells over, ďOff to a good start!Ē and to this I have no response. I just laugh, nod and give him the thumbs up as I bend down to pick up my shoe. Heís right. What can I say? So far it isnít good and I havenít even hit the trail yet! This should be good.

    Iím finally changed. With tights extending beyond my baggies, an old black Sugoi jacket keeping my upper half warm and all the extra provisions packed in my Camelbak Iím looking more like a bike courier who took a wrong turn than a guy out for a few hours on the trails. I head off at speed. It hasnít rained but the trail is just soft enough to allow the knobbies to sink into its upper layer and this robs a lot of the energy Iím trying to put down. Itís not long before I feel that my legs had not yet fully recovered from the 80-something km road ride I had done the day before in the wind. My thighs begin to burn after only a few kmís so I quickly decide to slow up a little.




    The trail starts out a little mellow but allows for some very nice, fast, twisty acrobatics between the trees and over some small drops along the way. The air is cool but itís refreshing and smells of springtime. Itís a beautiful moment. The silence of the forest is broken by the sound of my starving lungs as I climb and my buzzing freewheel when I descend. Itís the first ďrealĒ test ride for my new Salsa and so far I seem to have dialed the settings in perfectly for the conditions. With each revolution of my cranks Iím propelled deeper in to the forest and deeper into bliss. Iím so happy that my rough start is turning out so well but still canít help but feel how cold my foot is.

    After a time I enter the pine area. The area smells especially strong this morning as I assume that the brisk winds from the past few days probably cause a lot of needles to fall. At this moment the air is calm and the smell hovers, still, it drifts nowhere as the source holds it in place. The pines are densely packed in this area and are surrounded by low-lying vegetation unable to take any real root. The large pines starve out much of the sunlight and the ground is rich in its acidic sap. The trail snakes though it and stands out well against the green surroundings.



    Instead of tall buildings surrounding this ďcourierĒ Iíve got trees scraping the skies above! Sweet!



    The reason I like this trail so much is that it takes you through many different sections in a relatively short mount of time. Each section has its own uniqueness, theyíre distinctly different; one section may be flat but lightning fast while the next is technical and slow-going. One may be higher up densely covered in trees and the next low lying covered only in grass such is the pic below.



    I descend a rocky part of the trail and through some 4 foot tall ferns before ending up in a low lying grass area which is where the riverís bank spills over during the winter and early spring months. Only the hardiest of trees can survive here amongst the naturally occurring grasses as the rushing water will either sweep them away or the over-saturated soil will drown them to death. Itís another quick and simple section of trail that sees most everyone hammering the big ring and zipping along the riverís edge before darting back into the woods for more singletrack. On this day I stop for a break and enjoy the sights and sounds. The grass gives away the invisible windís location when the blades teeter over slightly as the wind tumbles across it. The lush green turning grayish momentarily as it does so. The grass does a perfect wave across the field and I feel like Iím in the center of a stadium. The fans are showing their appreciation. Collectively the blades sound like hissing or static on a TV screen when they rub together. Yet again, Iím thankful for not pulling the plug on this ride. My foot is still cold and wet.

    I head back into the cover of leaves and straight for a section I like to call ďthe brainĒ. This part of the trail is so heavily covered with roots youíre lucky if rubber actually makes contact with dirt. Itís off camber, very uneven and there are several large rocks that nature has strategically placed for some added excitement.



    Of course the pictures never do any of this stuff justice (as you all know) but trust me, when this is wet, itís tough to stay upright. Iíve hit this section enough to know the secrets to clearing it but Iím a little nervous on my new steed. I question if itís capable of carrying me over if I use the same devices I used on my old HT. I hit the opening section pointing slightly upward and across with more speed then a new person to this section would think to use and the bike heads right where I want it to. I twist and maneuver slowly but steadily over the section applying nice gentle pedal strokes when the need arises all while trying to keep my weight even above both wheels. One pedal with too much force and youíre down before you know what is happening. The bike bumps along progressively while I swing my weight from side to side and front to back before finally clearing the section without slipping too badly even once. Iím stoked and really starting to fall in love with this new squishy thing Iím riding. Itís a beauty to ride so far.

    Shortly after exiting one technical section Iím faced with another that requires concentration and some finesse. Iím heading up a short climb that I feel will be the last true test for the Salsa and it passes with flying colors. Iím not sure of the grade on this climb but itís very steep but short. Loose perfectly round stones cover the path and it looks like a giant bag of golf and base balls have been dumped down the hillside. Again nice gentle pedal strokes are needed to clean this short climb and the classic circular pedal stroke is the only effective means of getting over it without dabbing. Itís tricky but totally doable on my hard tail. Smooth consistent pedaling action will see you up without incident but uneven pressure simply spins the wheel below you and all momentum is instantly lost. There is no recovering from it when on the climb. I question the grip that this 4 inch traveling rear end will provide under heavy strain but once again the Salsa cleans it just as well as my previous bike had and any doubts I had in the past about climbing on a full suspension bike are forgotten. The rear end stays where it should yet I can tell itís absorbing the smaller ripples keeping even more grip down where it needs to be. Sweet. My Dekerf is now 100% officially retired as my main trail ride at that very moment. My legs burn as I crest the top and my lungs are filling to capacity but calling for more. I slowly pedal along to allow my systems to level off again as I was definitely in the red.

    I wrestle the trail for 20minutes or so after it flattens out again without incident. That is of course until I reach a gradual descent that I like to take at speed. I like to come into the section fast and freewheel down the short grade which twists its way to the riverís edge again before coming back up and almost running over itself. Littering the trail are basketball size rocks and some hefty exposed roots but nothing too crazy if your line is right. As the section approaches I stop pedaling. Iím content with the speed Iím carrying. Just before the trail begins to dip downward I feel, and hear, something strange that isnít going away. And a quick glance to the left reveals the source.

    Startled I realize that there is a bird attacking me. Not a big bird either (please not jokes about Grover) but a tiny thing about the height of a coffee mug. All the same, it takes me by surprise as it cries out loudly for its size, flaps its wings in my face and I can hear it repeatedly pecking at my helmet whenever it gets around behind me. The distraction sees me go off the trail after missing a turn and suddenly Iím bush whacking Ė not good. Judging by the plant life that is toppled over ahead of me itís clear that Iím not the first to have had a run in with this little angry mother. Sheís nesting and to her Iím the bad guy.

    Sheís gone now, happy to have sent me on my way and Iím astonished by her bravery. I mean would you go after a 7-story building if it were barreling toward you? I think not. Immediately after regaining my composure and getting back on the trail I remember that it turns back up and in right towards her. The one down side to the popularity of this trail at this point is the fact that she has certainly learned that the threat will be back momentarily. Sheíll be waiting for me.

    As I head back up I slow towards the top. I know Iím getting close to the little mad momma. I scan the trees and spot her I think right when she spots me. She lowers her head and begins walking slowly sideways along the branch to get a good line at me on the trail. I pedal back a little to get my right foot in the 2 oíclock position for maximum acceleration. If this were a western movie this would be the scene where there would be a close up of my dirty sweaty face as my eyes start to squint; I stare down the bird. Then there would be the close up of the bird slowly crouching and squinting as she stares me down. Next the camera would be focused on my hands that are tightening around my grips and her maybe slowly rolling her wing feathers ready for me to make the move.

    We stare each other down. Each of us is waiting for the other to make a move. I leave it to her and by now she has had enough. She starts to call out her warning and I know the sh!tís going down. As though in slow motion I watch her lean forward and drop from her perch a full 15 or so feet before spreading her wings. Sheís got some serious speed going. Iím barely rolling despite full power and sheís already on me. I curse and swat at her kinda laughing at the same time and she stays with me for a good 2 minutes (thatís a long time to be attacked). That was the first time (on this trail) that Iíd been attacked by a bird and I just hoped that she didnít pick that same spot next year. Man she was tough but damn that was funny. The only thing that was good about that whole scene was that Iíd forgotten about my wet foot!

    Once she disappears I relax again taking in the sights and sounds. My knobbies hum as my speed is up again and the trail is dryer here. I hit climbs and downhills without a soul around and feel refreshed in this air and thankful for my freedom. I know it is only a few more kmís before I hit the car parking area but the good news is, Iíve made good time even after taking photos along the way. The plans wonít change.

    Me and my wet foot are heading straight back in for some more wrestling and I know that birdís gonna be mad as hell.

    Bring it on.
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    Here's my crummy, slow-going blog The Slow Spoke if you're interested.

  2. #2
    govt kontrakt projkt mgr
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    i thnk u r confused; ur writing abilities rise above most.

    the root picture reminds me of Aeia Loop on Oahu--tasty.

    i usually find that instead of animals attacking me on the trail, I tend to attack them in a way. well at least spiders--I always seem to be inhaling them out on the BLORA loop here on fort hood.

    now i wonder what those twentysomething girls were actually doing in the dark in the woods....hmmmm

    thx 4 d invigorating post--

    and 4give my texting shothand.

  3. #3
    A wheelist
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    Nice Steve. Nice. Dare I ask where you were or is that part of the mystery?

    Redwing Blackbirds used to divebomb me and bounce off my head in the spring, years ago, on helmetless (pre hard helmet) road rides. I guess they were territorial mothers chasing me away from their young. If they only knew.
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilders with information and motivation.

  4. #4
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim?
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    Beautiful. A not so auspicious seeming parking area beginning that transformed into a great time.
    Florence Nightingale's Stormtrooper

  5. #5
    Want Smiley Sauce w/that?
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    Enjoyed that. How'd you take the circle pics? Looks like a wide angle. Especially interested in how you took the one while moving. That's beautiful.
    Lose it? I didn't lose it. It's not like, "Whoops! Where'd my job go?" I QUIT. Someone pass me the asparagus."

  6. #6
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    Good stuff Ska! I really appreciate those who will take the time to write up a good ride. We don't get enough of that here on Passion lately.

    Well done.

    As far as changing in the parking lot.... I've been changing clothes in parking lots and pit areas for years. My theory is: If I don't look while I'm doing it..... no one can see me. 'Course if there's giggling and shrinkage invloved it's pretty hard to ignore the audience.
    Last edited by KRob; 05-27-2008 at 09:55 AM.
    I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth...
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  7. #7
    mtbr member
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    Shrinkage is a *****.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphajaguars
    Shrinkage is a *****.
    So true.

    I enjoyed your writeup immensely. Thanks for taking the time to put that together.

  9. #9
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    I can say that your writing talent is far superior to mine. Loved the bird attack section.

  10. #10
    Young, Shawn Young
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    Nice story and pictures. I had to laugh when you talked about how most of the passion posts are questions lately. I think I looked one day and the top 5 or 6 posts were questions! I guess I shouldnt talk as I havent really posted much lately. Thanks for the hit!
    "Im just going to explore a little bit..."

    Dont make me be the bad guy...

    Do I need a pass to ride this trail?

  11. #11
    slow
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    Good read. Thanks. We got mooned by a guy changing in the parking lot before a ride the other day. Told him I wished I could un-see that.

  12. #12
    on the other side
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    Great post and beautiful pics!

    But I have to agree with ArmySlowRdr, your writing abilities are above most. If someone doesn't take the time to read and enjoy your story, then that is their loss. I personally have enjoyed what you so generously took the time to write and share. I especially got a good chuckle about the bird.
    There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart
    ...pursue those.

  13. #13
    Noob
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    Love the fisheye! Oh, and love the ride too i'm sure.
    MTB Blog

    There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.

  14. #14
    Unshaven Yak
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    Great writeup

    Don't be too critical of you're abilities there friend, that was a great writeup! I truly felt like I was there with the descriptions of the pedalstroke required, the bird, the wet foot etc. Solid passion like I haven't read in awhile and the pics really added just enough to fill in the atmosphere.

    Thanks for sharing!
    If you can, get one. You can bild it up to be a kinda lite trail slaying,dirt surfin, 40 mile ride single track super mama. this bike is the cutting edge of the sport. "spred the groove".

  15. #15
    mtbr member
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    *whew*

    Saved by some actual Passion writing about riding. I have lamented the apparent slide here on the Passion Board - but once in a while a gem pops up, like this one. Gotta love the peeping girls and the wet socks.

    Cars, guns, bike racks, bling other such tripe get real old real fast.

    Thanks for the mid-week hit! Where is this fun sounding area with attacking mama birds? Looks lush and fun.
    "It's better to regret something you HAVE done, than something you haven't..." -

  16. #16
    Team Inflexible
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    Thank you

    for taking the time to share your experience. It ened up being a little get away while sitting here in cubeland at my office.

  17. #17
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    Nice write up like some kind of pro author type thing.

  18. #18
    Shinobi-Wan Kenobi Moderator
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    Passion the way it used to be!!! Nice hit Ska!

  19. #19
    i worship Mr T
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    good stuff Ska!



    rt
    "where are you not going so fast?" (question asked to cyclist on a trainer)

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  20. #20
    Its only 1" on the map!
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    Thanks was an exceptional read. Thank you very much for posting that. A true passion hit.

  21. #21
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    i agree, your writing is much better then you give yourself credit for! I enjoyed the writeup immensely !
    Ride hard or go home!

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  22. #22
    Ska
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    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo
    Enjoyed that. How'd you take the circle pics? Looks like a wide angle. Especially interested in how you took the one while moving. That's beautiful.
    Yeah, wide angle Ė zoomed all the way out. Been messing with that lens for quite a while now. As another example, the pic below is of a ridding friendís (in the background in the orange, white and blue club jersey checking out my new Surly CX bike I used at the event that year) SS 29ír that was stolen and then found again. Its paint and decals had been stripped to conceal its identity. It was luckily located and returned. My friend then put the stickers on it after he got it back and showed up at a race with it. Needless to say it attracted a lot of attention and MANY questions were asked. We all thought it was great and laughed quite a bit about it. We kept saying ďYou definitely rode it like it was stolen!Ē as he posted a wicked time in this long, early season point-to-point race. He beat me too and I was on a CX bike with gears! Jesus he was quick.

    As far as taking the pic while riding, it was nothing high-tech. I just pedaled along, held the camera up with my right hand and snapped a shot. The tricky part was trying not to crash as I was going pretty fast actually ;-)

    Thanks for all the kind words but I still insist that there are some kick a$$ writers who frequent this site that just need to come out for a bit. I know this because Iíve read what they have written and it is great stuff and I mean really great stuff.

    You know youíre out there.

    Thanks again for reading.
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  23. #23
    Ska
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ska!
    Yeah, wide angle Ė zoomed all the way out. Been messing with that lens for quite a while now. As another example, the pic below is of a ridding friendís (in the background in the orange, white and blue club jersey checking out my new Surly CX bike I used at the event that year) SS 29ír that was stolen and then found again. Its paint and decals had been stripped to conceal its identity. It was luckily located and returned. My friend then put the stickers on it after he got it back and showed up at a race with it. Needless to say it attracted a lot of attention and MANY questions were asked. We all thought it was great and laughed quite a bit about it. We kept saying ďYou definitely rode it like it was stolen!Ē as he posted a wicked time in this long, early season point-to-point race. He beat me too and I was on a CX bike with gears! Jesus he was quick.

    As far as taking the pic while riding, it was nothing high-tech. I just pedaled along, held the camera up with my right hand and snapped a shot. The tricky part was trying not to crash as I was going pretty fast actually ;-)

    Thanks for all the kind words but I still insist that there are some kick a$$ writers who frequent this site that just need to come out for a bit. I know this because Iíve read what they have written and it is great stuff and I mean really great stuff.

    You know youíre out there.

    Thanks again for reading.
    Correction, heís checking out another friendís bike as I just spotted my Surly lying in the grass behind the fellow in black from the group preparing next to us. So many people and so many bikes that day. Over 1500 I think that day.
    Here's my crummy, slow-going blog The Slow Spoke if you're interested.

  24. #24
    pewpewpew Moderator
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    thanks for the great read! loved it!
    Love, Impy

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