It's never fun, especially on mile 2. It ruins the flow....and when you have to get back home to go to work, it just plain sucks. It sucks because the days are getting shorter and the temps are coming down. Less time to enjoy the daylight before work, less time to turn the crank on the bike. Of course I had a spare tube and I was back on the saddle, but that's not the point. I guess I let myself get in a hurry and these days, that's never good....especially on the bike where we're supposed to let it all ride out. Even though I picked up the mountain bike thing for the 1st time back in April, I still don't instinctively brake the way I should. I have to constantly remind myself to go easy on the front brake, especially when descending...especially when it get's technical....especially when I'm descending a technical switchback. There were warning signs and near misses leading up to it. I told my self to go easy on the front and let it roll minutes before it happened....but the instinct was not there.
Taking a week off usually lets this slip to the back of my mind instead of right in front where it should be. It takes a ride like this morning to remind me of this. I did not hurt myself, but almost went OTB; performing a delicate endo before shifting my weight back and releasing the front brake to resume the descent. As if to reinforce the lesson which I was unconsciously being obdurate about, I stalled a few times on the switchbacks, flopping over; resulting in nothing more than hurt pride and a sore hand. It just goes to show that some days you can send anything out here and other days the trail sends you.
The irony is that after I repaired the flat and cleaned a tricky climb that I sometimes dab on, I was feeling pretty good and had a choice. I could continue on and push it, or I could return the way I came; building on yesterday's 1st ride back in a week for my all out push back to 100% on Friday. It's obvious what I chose. However lessons were learned and the catalog of experiences continues to grow, strengthening my skills. It still amazes me how just 7 days, one tiny week without riding for me; can reverse skills gained through repetition in an equally small time frame.
I guess this is to be expected as I close out my 6th month on the bike. I'm not sure what the next 6 months will look like. Part of those months, I'll be on my skis and not on the bike. Whole weekends will stretch by without even a glance from me at my bike, sitting in it's stand, watching me back the truck out out of the garage only to return late at night exhausted with my skis. With weekends, holidays and powder-days consumed by a different kind of turn; the source of my enjoyment these past 6 months will be relegated to 2nd place. But I'll still have these short rides squeezed in between sleep and work to keep me anchored. And I imagine without the constant lessons learned day in and day out on the bike, each ride I manage to squeeze in will take on an even more important role in lesson building; some harder than others.
But as the seasons turn, and my mode of turn changes from rubber on dirt into p-tex on snow; I'll constantly be reminded of the lessons I'm learning as much as the lessons I'm not. I realized today while I was turning the crank that the turns themselves are the lessons we learn, regardless of where, what or how they turn us. The turns I was not able to make on a desert switchback today are as important as the turns I will make above an exposed icy traverse sometime this winter. I don't know how I'll be making my turns in the next 6 months, but find solace in the realization that regardless of the mode or style of the turn, what's really turning is me.
Not a big day, but sometimes the journey is the answer; not the gain.
9 miles, 925 ft of elevation gain