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Weekend Wrap-up part 2

How ridiculous is it that I’m writing about last weekend while the upcoming weekend looms before me?

Anyway, on with the story:

On Sunday we went up to St. Joseph for the Roubidoux Round-Up. Joel was helping with, as well as participating in the race, and I figured that since I was tagging along anyway, I might as well ride.

I’m sure glad I did, because the trails upon which we raced were EXACTLY the sort I like best; tight and twisty, without much for rocks. Generally, I can get over smallish logs just fine these days, and I can get through some rock fields, if I have plenty of time and can really put my mind and body into it, but in a situation where I could potentially be in somebody’s (or a lot of somebodies’) way, hitting upon a rock field would have sucked! I’d have been off the bike and running. But such measures were unnecessary and the trail was beautifully rideable from a beginner’s perspective.

I decided that I needed to take a practice lap (generally prudent) in order to warm up and get the feeling for the trail. This is kind of essential, since I mostly ride on the streets, so it takes me a mile or so to get used to the whole dirt thing. Also, on account of my asthma, it takes me longer to warm up and be ready to put my lungs to hard work. This is the first race I ever participated in, so I was pretty nervous and riding is one of the things in this world that restores my equanimity. Now I might not know much about racin’ but I know that frequently when they open a course for warm-ups, there’s a “short loop” that one can do. I figured I’d do the short loop, turn around, and then stretch and hang around until the start of the race proper.

Well, I figured wrong. There was no turnaround. If you pre-rode, you rode the whole course. I’d gotten probably about ¾ of the way through by the time I realized that there was no turnaround. That’s no big deal really. The problem was that I’d also managed to miss a turn or make a turn I shouldn’t have or something because I got stuck in some sort of Mobius Loop out there. I was getting pretty worried that I wouldn’t make it back out of there in time for the race to start. As I stressed about getting back to the start and about sucking in general, it became harder and harder to handle my bike. I seriously rode a loop of the trail nearly three times before I met with another cyclist I knew and asked her if she knew how to get on out of there. Kathy kindly helped me navigate my way out of the woods.

I had 40 minutes to spare. Thank goodness!

The race itself was fun. Unfortunately there was only one other woman in my category. Sara Trehearne from Lawrence, KS. I asked her if she regularly rode the River Trails, and she said that she did. I told her that she was in for a real treat as the St. Joseph trails were very similar, only hillier, tighter, and longer. My second tour through the woods was much more fun than the first. For one thing, I now knew where I was going and for another, I’d gotten my “dirt-sense” back. Since I was no longer worried about getting back to the start “in time,” I was stress free and could just ride and have a good time. Of course I had to pull over frequently for the expert and the fast sport riders to pass me, but I’ve got good ears. I almost always hear another rider coming upon me and get off the trail pretty darn toute suite. In fact, it would startle the hell out of me if a rider coming up on me actually did announce his presence!

This second time through the course, I made every turn I was supposed to and none that I wasn’t, and got through and back to the start in such a time as suited me. Sure it was slow as hell by anybody’s standards, but the fact that I didn’t manage to strand myself in the middle of St. Joseph somewhere and somehow was success enough for me. Chances are I’m probably not going to get too racing-crazed. I’ll probably ride in a few of the local ones that Joel’s at anyway, and I’d ride at St. Joseph again if I got half the chance because I like the trails. There are some places though, where I wouldn’t ride. If Joel was racing at Perry Lake, I wouldn’t ride out there, because those trails are pretty much nothing but rocks. Landahl I might, maybe, depending. Landahl’s fun and pretty, but very tricky in many places. It’s more fun to ride it when there aren’t too many people out there, ’cause then I don’t have to worry about being in everybody’s way.

Because I’ve been riding so much lately and because I have a pretty epic ride ahead of me in the Flint Hills, I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of riding I like to do. I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the mainstream cycling interests of club rides and competitive cycling are just not my thing. I could probably accurately be described as an avid cyclist, but stuff like racing isn’t even on my radar. I participate in alleycats, but those are basically joke-races forming the excuse to have a big ol’ silly party. I’ve participated in a couple of proper races in times past, but always as kind of a dork-horse participant. I pretty obviously don’t take it very seriously and my results back that up. You’d have to suck in a pretty significant fashion to come in behind me in a race.

The sort of riding I like…well, let’s just say that I like to ride places where there are interesting things to see. I like to explore. I like going up and down hills and taking tight corners at probably too high of speeds. I like hitting a little trail from time to time. I like riding ridiculous bikes in public parades. I love riding in costume. I like riding out in the country, but I also like riding all around the city. I mostly ride alone, with a couple of friends, or with a small group. I don’t really like what I call “big zoo rides” with tons of people to try to keep track of.

Joel and I have decided that once Dirty Kanza is past, we’re going to start going on adventure rides together regularly. Pick a direction and go. We’re going to do some mini-tours, explore unknown-to-us sites, take pictures, and take a picnic. I’m really excited about this notion and have been daydreaming up a few routes and vague plans for our cycling dates. Just riding around, just for the heck of it is appealing more and more to me. Especially since I’ve been making stabs at “training” for Kanza. Training, as such, isn’t so much my “scene” either, as well you might gather. All-day bike rides for the simple pleasure of sightseeing new sights however, very much are my “scene.”

3 Responses to “Weekend Wrap-up part 2”

  1. Celia says:

    Wish you could come up to Southern Ontario for the ride some 3WAers and I are planning, going around wineries in Niagara on the Lake in September. It’s likely slower and duller than you are used to, but mighty pleasant.

  2. meetzorp says:

    Actually that sounds like it would be a lot of fun. Hauling-assis not something I require to have a good time. You guys ought to do ride reports and share photos when you get back.

  3. mixte says:

    I’m glad to hear you found another trail you enjoy. If you do manage to get back out there, take some pictures. I’d love to see what it’s like, but I’ll never be able to make it out there.

    Also, it’s really no big deal if you don’t like club rides and racing. The fun thing about cycling (as you know) is that there are a gazillion and one ways to enjoy riding a bike, and I like to think that all of them are equally legit, even though I can think of few examples where I can seriously shake my head and say WTF.

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