Using the holidays as an excuse the husband and I got behind on the 100 Miles in 100 Days Challenge, so we planned a long hike/bike in the Estrella Mountain Regional Park to round out 2016. The weather had other plans for us. Heavy overnight and steady morning rain kept us home. Luckily by mid-afternoon it started to dry up a little and the sun tried peeking its head out. Not knowing if it was going to start raining again we didn’t want to go too far from home or too far into the desert, but we wanted to do something. So we took both bikes out. Yes, I have a mountain bike too, though I’ve only ever had it in the dirt once, briefly, very briefly.
So this was to be my very first ‘real’ trail ride. I was kind of excited, kind of reluctant, but desperately needing to get outside. The husband took us to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve where we would ride part of the 100 Trail, a section that I’ve already hiked, my least favorite section of the 100 Trail actually.
Almost immediately there was a hill that I had to push my bike up, “the unclimbable hill” as the husband refers to it. It is a steep hill and I clearly remember hating it as a hiker, now I’m pushing a bike up it? Pushing a bike is much harder than simply hiking and I didn’t use my inhaler. Why would I use my inhaler, I never get short of breath riding around the neighborhood? Already I’m dying.
After the hill it was fairly easy-going, for a few minutes.
Eventually we came upon another hill and the husband tells me I have to go really fast down the hill to gain enough momentum to get back up the hill. Got it. Except that going fast down hill, even on pavement scares me, now we’re adding dirt, rocks, and divots, I don’t think so. I ended up pushing my bike up most of the hill!
We then come to a downhill that the husband tells me flat out I need to get off my bike and push. What? I opted to stay on my bike, white knuckling the brakes as I Flinstoned my way down most of the hill at about inch a minute.
The next stretch was fairly easy, mostly flat with some rolling hills that I was actually able to pedal up, until we came to a ravine, a steep ravine. I would probably have just pushed my bike through it but there was a large mud puddle right in the middle of our path. I’ve never met a mud puddle I didn’t want to splash through, so biking across was the only way. I eked my way down the hill, pedaled as fast as I could through the puddle and the rest of the ravine, and got about ¾ of the way back up the hill lost momentum and started to tip over. I was able to put my feet down and catch myself so I didn’t fall, but I lost some skin on my shin in the process.
As soon as I got to the top of the hill I asked if I could go through the puddle again! This time I found a slightly less steep area to go down so I was able to make it up the other side. To continue our loop meant I had to go through the puddle one more time, twist my arm. Instead of following the husbands path I decided to go up the less steep route, big mistake. Again, I got about ¾ of the way up and started to tip over. But this time when I put my foot down I wasn’t able to steady myself and down I went, right into a bush.
Thank god a bush and not a cactus! Once I stopped rolling the husband, in a small panic, asked if I was ok to which I replied, “just like in derby, as long as I get back up I’m ok. It’s when I don’t get up that you need to worry”. I insisted we go through the puddle a couple more times before moving on. The next time I made it up the damn hill, barely, but I made it!
The rest of the loop was what I would consider basic trail stuff, nothing too technical but enough to be a challenge, for me anyway. There was one last fairly steep hill that I lost momentum on and had to Flinstone my way up, but at least I didn’t fall.
When we got to the end of the loop I looked at my Strava to see how many miles we’d gone. Holy hell, how was THAT only 1.6 miles? My legs were burning and I was panting like a dog. This trail riding stuff is hard work! The husband now offered me a choice, we could be done, we could do the loop again, or we could drive to a flatter part of the preserve and continue to ride. Exhausted as I was I wasn’t ready to be done after only 1.6 miles and I didn’t want to stop my mileage tracker to go somewhere else, so I chose to do the loop again.
We hadn’t gone too far on our second loop when I stopped and said maybe I had lied about going again. I was seriously exhausted, but I don’t have it in me to quit so I kept going. When I reached the top of the hill I had to push up I was wheezing so badly the husband offered again to go home and be done, but at that point the worst was over so why turn back. I just need to remember to use my inhaler next time.
The second time around the loop was easier because I knew what to expect.
Again I insisted on going through the mud puddle several times, and I had to Flinstone up that last steep hill again. By the time we were finished we logged 3.3 miles, my feet and bottom couple inches of my pants were soaking wet, and I was covered head to toe in mud. I had so much fun!
Our day didn’t go as planned and I’m glad. I no doubt would have enjoyed my hike and the husband would have enjoyed his ride. But this change in plans allowed us to enjoy something together and I was able to add another new experience to my list of life experiences.