Wednesday, October 14, 2009

School of Rock

Ever since an infamous ride after a bunch of fresh snow fell on Blue Dot trail a couple of winters ago, the people who were there that night have enjoyed quoting The Grouch’s summation of the event: "It was a great ride until it started to suck ass."

As I review my recent trip to Utah and Colorado, I find myself wanting to paraphrase: I sucked ass until it turned into a great ride.

There’s just no sugarcoating it. I stunk up the joint for a couple of days. I didn’t remember how to trust good traction. I couldn’t regain the feel of shifting weight and lifting wheels as we rode over technical features. Worst of all, I was gutless until those skills slowly started to return. A couple of nasty crashes over the past couple of years made me too conservative.

I’m still not sure where the line lies between wimpy and wise, but I think I was on the wrong side of it. As the Monkee later put it, I was a contender for the Golden Binky Award.

The Golden Binky isn’t funny unless somebody else is winning it.

It wasn’t until the third day of riding—on Sovereign, my new favorite Moab trail, by the way—that I felt competent. I felt a little better each day for the rest of the week.

All I can do now is store the memories away and hope I can retain some of my sharpened skills for next summer. Our technical features are different in Alaska. Damp roots and rocks are pretty much the opposite of slickrock (which is anything but slick).

Ultimately, any bike trip is really about the company you keep and the fun you have. In that sense, I had a week of epic good times. But anyone who doesn’t try to learn from riding new terrain is a fool, and the Moab/Fruita region is like a college of mountain biking.

I hate being in remedial classes.


Grill Meister said...

I can atest to your new found skills. After those couple days of "training rides" it was great to consistenly hear your bike rattling along right behind me. I too had great improvement in my "hucking" skills. A lot of it was just trusting the line Monkee took and either just letting off the brake and let myself fall through the cascading rock, or trusting in the putting the power to the pedals and just pound it up and over.

Vito said...

I'm looking forward to attending class sometime soon.

bikegirl said...

I'm the same way for the first few days of a Utah/Co/Az trip. Jon always reminds me that I have traction. I also have to keep in mind that the bike can handle more than I think I can when it comes to dropping off steps & little ledges. I have to work my way back into it during the trip.

Of course it takes a while to get used to not being at sea level too..

Welcome back, you hucker.