I decided today was the day to stop being pathetic by hammering out a ride today to start the weekend off right. Unfortunately, the Cylindropuntia fulgida had other plans. For starters, I have been feeling pretty weak since I took one week off in SW Coastal Washington to visit with the in-laws. Lots of 12-oz carbs, fish and chips....no riding or weight training. To top it off, I came down with a nasty head cold which found it's way into my lungs. So, I went a total of about 8 days without spinning a damn thing. First time back on the saddle was on Monday of this week when I decided to head out to Hawes to get myself back.....stupid. I was still feeling very weak, my lungs were still full of butter and it was about 105 out. Suffice it to say, I rode the bike more than driving it. After that, I took another two days off and finally hit it on Thursday, doing the loop at Hawes (Hawes-Saddle-Mine-Ridge-Pig). I still felt not quite back, but it was much better than sucking it up in granny gear wishing I were dead like on monday. Which gets me to today, which by the way, was a stellar day with low temps thanks to that haboob which blew through last night.
I left the house at about 900 this morning and it was in the low 80's, and dry for once. I decided I was going to head out to Twisted Sister and Wildhorse to see how the wicked rain we've been getting has thrashed the trail. I have to say I was very surprised at how well things have been holding up. Anyways, all this rain also means some crazy growth on all the green things...and out here...all the green things have a way of hurting you. I was rocking down into the major wash, coming down off of Twisted right before it heads east and, I guess I must not have seen it coming....but out of the corner of my eye I see a lone tendril from the cholla out of the right corner of my eye. It only took a millisecond, but it had a single arm extending from the right side of the trail out to about the midpoint of the trail. Because it was a lone arm, I did not see it initially when I came around the corner and started down the incline. Well, I nailed it...but that's not what entered my mind. What entered my mind, or more appropriately, my right fist and cuticles on my trigger and middle finger were white, hot, lightning flashes of pain. My next sensation was of the trail grinding the flesh down on my left forearm and shoulder, with my bike on top of me along for the ride. I guess what my mind and body did when the thorns from the cholla hit my hand was twofold: The registration of pain and the instant jerking of my my hand (right hand) away from the offending sensation (white hot, searing pain). Unfortunately, my brain did not automatically remove my fist from the handlebar prior to this automatic reaction....so my fist took the handlebar with it, thus turning my wheel almost 90 degrees to the right....I was going about 15mph at the time according to my Edge.
From here, it was simple physics.....homo sapian turns wheel 90 degrees to the right, sudden deceleration due to braking motion on "snow plow" of a front tire, upper body momentum continues, clipless pedal's hold homo sapian in bike, forward rotation of homo sapian and bike, rapid deceleration as body of homo sapian smears into desert trail. Damn....wish I had a video of that. Other than the dust, some trail rash and a healthy coating of dust; I was surprisingly fine. So I got back up and started pedaling....but anyone ever hit by cholla knows....once the adrenaline drops down...that's when the discomfort begins. Itching, burning, swelling=Good fun. So, my attempt at "Hammer Time" after a long hiatus turned to be a hammer fest in more way than one. However....I'm no longer feeling weak and am ready to hit it up again this weekend.
18 miles with 1817ft elevation gained