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Thread: Great Stories of Adventure - This is why we ride!

  1. #21
    Shop Owner/Frame Builder CBaron's Avatar
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    Here you go, pull up a chair, and get ready for a long read...


    I've been to Durango CO in the summer for mountain biking and camping about 12 times now. Over the years I've acquired some good stories that have taught me a lot about high-country riding. This one is my go-to story for what can happen in the high-mtns when you underestimate mother nature. I kept this story hidden from my wife for a year (until it was leaked by my friend at my dinner table during the next years planning session).



    This was my probably my 4th summer (2001) trip to Durango for a week of camping and riding. There's a great little campground that sits at the ending spot of the CT (colorado trail) just outside of town. The previous 3 yrs were highlighted by our "big epic" ride of Kennebec Pass. To be fair, we would ride it from our campsite up the forest road and then intersecting the CT just below the pass. At this point in my travels, we'd not actually cross over the pass. But it was still a huge ride for us. It consisted of a 1.5hr climb up the fire road that gained over 3k ft in elevation. Then you'd descend some pristine single track along the CT down thru the high country canyon. At one point you cross an old wooden bridge and proceed then to do a super steep 1200 ft climb that feels harder than the previous 3k+ ft fire road climb. At the top of this climb its essentially all down hill to the end, arriving at the campsite safe and sound. Hopefully. Historically, this ride would take us about 6-6.5hrs.

    I tell you all of this because this is how it was sold to our 2 new greenhorn attendees. You see, 2 of us had done this trip before and then for the other 2 it was their first time. We had been talking about the big Kennebec epic ride for months now. The problem was that due to a slightly wetter than normal July, we were beginning to run out of days to get it done. We usually hit it about mid-week, after getting acclimated a bit. However, our initial attempted was thwarted with rainy weather from sun-up to sun-down. The next day we left the campsite and began the climb, only to be turned back with an unusually early pre-afternoon storm to come thru. The following day we decided to ride something on the other side of town where its dry and arid (Horse Gultch). Thus we were down to our last day of riding.

    The night before we checked the weather conditions via our campsite hosts radar feed and everything looked good. We got to bed early and likewise got up and onto our bikes earlier than normal. As usual it was a long grind of pedaling trying to find your "happy place". The trail rarely ever leveled off for over an hour and a half. You could watch the valley floor of the Durango basin disappear and you began to rise into the high mountain peaks. All of this while the air gets thinner and thinner. Kennebec pass is about 10.9k ft and we summit our ride at around 10.2 ft.




    The climb to the top essentially follows a very large set of ridge lines counter clockwise as you turn away from civilization. And there is a specific point where you cross "over to the other side" and begin to get a view of the series of ranges that make up the San Juan Mtns. This occurs towards the top after you've invested about 1 1/4 hrs into the climb. Its also the spot where we realized that, yet again, another early afternoon storm was beginning to move in off in the distance. Its also the spot where we stopped to make some decisions. The four of us gathered up and essentially cast lots as to what we wanted to do. I myself offered to push on in hopes of beating the pressing storm to the CT single track. My idea was that once we hit the CT, we'd quickly descend away from the storm into lower elevation. However, my compadre from previous years said that he'd had plenty for this week already. He was offering to simply turn around and coast back down to the campsite. This left the 2 newbies to decide what they wanted to do. One guy said he was going to go back, and Clark (who later became my TF frame builder partner), opted to join me in moving on. Clarke and I scavenged extra food, water & other supplies off the scare'dy cats who were turning back. But we had to move quickly because the storm was building.



    We departed ways, and Clark and I pushed the pace a bit in hopes of beating the storm to the CT intersection. The problem is that even though the inclination had toned down quite a bit, we were essentially still climbing. Our eyes had deceived us. What looked like "just over there", due to an open-vista sight line, was really much further (time-wise) than anticipated. Thus we converged with the storm at about 10k ft elevation in the CO back country. The wind picked up, the sky darkened and the rain began to come down. Then came the lightning. We contemplated turning around and taking the road back. But we both felt that we had already committed to this direction and didn't want to be exposed along the fire road edge of the ridge line back.

    In the middle of the very poor weather conditions we reached the CT intersection and immediately dropped in to our left in hopes of descending down "away" from the storm. We were in a narrow high altitude canyon with high walls on both sides. The lightning was so intense that it seemed like old timey camera flashbulbs going off. The light would flash as it would light up both sides of the canyon. Then the thunder would be immediate. I was truly fearful of my life. Never-the-less we were still trying to out descend the storm. The rain water was running downhill inside the same single track that we were riding. It effectively "filled up" the trail and caused us to not be able to see any dips or rocks or features. Occasionally a wood water bar would route the water diagonally (usually to the right)away from he trail. The problem was that you'd have a tendency to want to follow it "off the trail". Your eyes were just trying to follow the same textures because conditions were so poor. My glasses were wet and muddy, my hands were freezing cold and my feet numb. Obviously it couldn't get much worse right? Wrong. Next came the hail.



    It began hailing so bad that the ground was now all covered in white. This also meant that the water rushing down along with us was full of white pebbles of ice. This made riding the trail even more treacherous. With the lightning still ripping off around us, Clark and I decided to take shelter under a tree. We ditched our bikes, hiked down off the trail about 50ft and huddled up under the canopy of a tree. We were pretty anxious as the lightning and thunder continued to roar. Clark managed to snap off a few pics for a momento of the occasion. Then the hail stopped, the rain eased off a tad, and the lightning slowed down. We decided to make a break for it.



    With our v-brake pads worn down so much, it made descending a bit more treacherous. But we didn't care. We wanted to get to lower altitude. Then as we made our way around the point of a little cove, we could look down a few turns (of the small canyon) to see 2 guys riding horses. It was an odd sight, but also a very welcomed one. They were completely loaded down with camping gear. They looked like old school back-country cowboys and they even had a pack mule in tow. In some very real way it made us feel like we were no longer alone. No longer just 2 of us against mother nature. We now had some back up. Or at least, someone who could vouch for the fact that 2 lycra-clad and frozen-wet mountain bikers had made it thru the rough stuff. Coincidentally, this was also about the time the storm eased up and we began to make better time. For what its worth, we said nothing more than "hello" and "thank you" as the horsemen pulled over to let us pass along the narrow singe track descent. Clark and I had finally arrived at the old wooden bridge.




    (continued on next post)
    Last edited by CBaron; 06-09-2017 at 11:30 PM.
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  2. #22
    Shop Owner/Frame Builder CBaron's Avatar
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    This bridge meant a few things. It meant we had descended about 2k ft of CT single track. It meant someone else had figured out some crazy way to get some serious wooden supplies up here to build this! It also meant that we were crossing over a stream. And as we all know, crossing a stream means you will now begin to climb. The next 1200 ft climb is tough. Very tough. Its granny gear steep and so narrow in places that you can stop and simply stick your hand out and hold on to the side of the trail to rest at times. This climb is not to be taken lightly; its can be dangerous. The first half was pretty uneventful. We were both grinding away, spinning like hamsters, essentially still running on adrenaline from our recent storm experience. As for myself, I could hear the thunder off in the distance. I was painfully aware that during this climb we are not really making "forward" progress. Rather we were going up, not really out and away. This could give the storm a chance to catch up with us. The thunder seemed to be getting gently closer. And it seemed to be saying "boom"...."I'm going to come down there and get you again". As I was kinda lost in my fog of thoughts, I heard Clarks voice call out for me. It was a quick yelp "Cody!"...and it faded away. I turned around and didn't see anyone! My neophyte CO camping trip buddy, Clark, had stepped off the bike on the wrong side and had FALLEN OFF THE TRAIL! I quickly, but gently, got off my bike and ran back looking for him. The bad news is that both he and the bike had fallen down the ravine. The good news was that he had managed to stop his slide by grabbing a big sapling with one hand, while holding onto his bike with the other. It really wasn't as bad as it sounds. The ravine wasn't sheer or anything. It was more like a 60 degree slope and all dirt. But it *could* have been very bad. We dodged a bullet on that one.



    I used my bike as a long leash to extend down to him. When he grabbed onto my wheel, I simply assisted him in getting back up to the trail as he drug his bike along with him in his other hand. The adrenaline was now really pumping and Clark was shaken up a good bit. I think this was *his* moment of seeing his life flash before him. But truth was, we were safe. The storm was still behind us. And besides, we had all the safety of the 2 horsemen about 30 minutes behind us, right?!? Clark and I gave each other that awkward bro-type hug and both of us agreed to take it a bit more easy going fwd. We'd concluded that we had made it this far, we didn't need to make some stupid error now and not make it back to camp. From here on out, everything went fine. We crested the top of the 1200 ft climb at a place called "the high point" and from there its almost all downhill back to campsite. Even though we still had over an hour of riding ahead of us, it felt effortless and easy. We stopped to take some photos at Gudy's rest and the cruised on to the bottom trail head. As we rolled back into the campsite, we were greeted with legit hugs from our other two compatriots (that had made the wise decision to turn back initially). They said that they had sat there in the campsite for about 5 hrs listening to the lightning and thunder and rain move thru the valley-canyon behind them knowing that we were out there stuck in it and high altitude. They were very relieved that they didn't have to call for search and rescue to come get us.

    Like I said earlier, I tried to keep this story from my wife if at all possible. She's cool with what we go and do. She also believes that I'm a responsible level-headed person who is capable of taking care of myself (and sometimes others). But in the end, this was an example of me being to full of hubris and completely underestimating what mother nature can do. It was a mistake on my part and I almost took one of my friends down with me due to my over confidence. It taught me a good lesson about riding in the back country. And lucky for me, I've not had to be faced with anything this treacherous since.

    Good thread!

    Thanks
    CJB
    Last edited by CBaron; 06-09-2017 at 11:37 PM.


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  3. #23
    Shop Owner/Frame Builder CBaron's Avatar
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    Edit: double post


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    MoJo Mother Superior sherpaxc's Avatar
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    Cody, that was a great read! Ive heard you tell that story before but without the detail. Ive ridden that trail a few times now. That last climb is a total nutkicker! Ive also been chased by a storm there. Keith and i actually holed up at the very top waiting for Jackson to get over that ridge in the previous section. Good stuff.
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  5. #25
    Live Medium Bamwa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Tip View Post
    Okay, I'll play.

    A few years ago I ventured into the BC Greenbelt, the Jedi part, for the first time. I was alone with only an inflated sense of adventure to ride with. I quickly became totally lost. The sense of adventure started to evaporate as my water supply ran out. Okay, don't panic I thought, I can always call someone for help. This was before I had a smart phone so I couldn't use it to determine where I was. I could only use it to call in an emergency if needed. That is I could have used it if it had not run out of juice! So there I was in the heat of July, lost, with no water and no phone. I had several moments of, "damn it! I've seen that tree before." I started visualizing what the headline in the paper would say when they finally found my body. But my Boy Scout training from the past taught me to not panic when lost. I kept saying to myself, "I know I am only 400 yards from a house. I can do this."

    Obviously I survived, but I am definitely scarred for life. Not as far as mountain biking goes of course, but I do have a slightly elevated heart rate when I now venture into the Greenbelt.
    Just once?
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  6. #26
    MoJo Bishop throet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CBaron View Post
    Here you go, pull up a chair, and get ready for a long read...
    Fantastic read - glad you guys came out OK. That part about the horsemen added a great element to the story.

  7. #27
    MoJo Bishop throet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Tip View Post
    Obviously I survived, but I am definitely scarred for life. Not as far as mountain biking goes of course, but I do have a slightly elevated heart rate when I now venture into the Greenbelt.
    Just goes to show you - adventure awaits even in your own backyard. I've never ridden the greenbelt without somebody who knows the trails, but this makes me want to go out there and get lost.

  8. #28
    MoJo Friar robert w's Avatar
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    My submission - perhaps not a epic as others, but one of those stories... A few years ago, I had to go to Anchorage, Alaska for a conference. I'd never been to Alaska, so I figured I would pack in as much adventure time as possible. I had a trail bike rental planned in Anchorage on Monday at the beginning of the conference, a DH bike rental scheduled at Alyeska Resort on Thursday and a kayak rental on Friday at Whittier. I didn't have a car the first few days, so on Monday I navigated the city bus system to the bike shop and out to Kincaid Park. Kincaid is on the edge of town and has lots of fast flowy trails. I followed the trail map to one of the flowy loops that had lots of tables and berms. The rental was a Scott Genius, and was a great bike, but it didn't have a dropper post. Since I was riding solo on new trail, I started off pretty cautiously, but as the flow just kept coming, I got that "this is why I ride!" feeling and started jumping tables and amping up the speed. In the moment, the fact that the rental wasn't set up like my bike, particularly the lack of a dropper, was forgotten. I hit a nice table, and the seat came up and launched me OTB. I landed on one side and slammed my head into the dirt - I literally saw stars. I got up on my knees and my collarbone was out of place - I thought it was broken but it was just dislocated and popped back. I had trail rash from my shoulder to my hip. I sat on the side of the trail for a while, dazed and hurting. The bike was fine, and after a while, I started pedaling and after a while, got to feeling a little better.

    Hotel gift stores aren't geared for trail rash, so I had to cut and piece band-aids together to cover the scrapes enough to not bleed through my dress shirt. I couldn't hardly move my left arm, and couldn't sleep on that side for a month. I cancelled the ride at Alyeska and the kayak. But in the end, I rode some cool new trail and saw two moose in Kincaid Park, and later in the week, hiked to a glacier and watched the salmon swim upstream. Despite it all, it was a success.

  9. #29
    MoJo Mother Superior TheSarge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robert w View Post
    so I had to cut and piece band-aids together to cover the scrapes enough to not bleed through my dress shirt. I couldn't hardly move my left arm, and couldn't sleep on that side for a month.
    I love sitting in a work meeting savoring the pain from the previous day's bike crash. It reminds me that there's more than just work. And occasionally it's OK to bleed through the dress shirt.
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  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by robert w View Post

    Hotel gift stores aren't geared for trail rash, so I had to cut and piece band-aids together to cover the scrapes enough to not bleed through my dress shirt.
    I guess that sucked not having your "favorite" ER to go to.

    (June Bug's thread about that still makes me laugh)
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  11. #31
    MoJo Bishop throet's Avatar
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    My last story worth sharing. Upper Priest River Falls, ID.
    It was Fall 2013 and I was preparing for my first serious ride since having my shoulder reconstructed five months earlier. I would meet my friend Ted in Coeur d'Alene, ID and then drive north past Bonner's Ferry into the vast Northern Idaho wilderness. Final destination was the trailhead for Upper Priest River Trail. By all accounts, this would be an easy ride, and perfect for my first ride in nearly 6 months. Reaching the American Falls at the end of the out-and-back (just a mile or so south of the Canadian border) would afford a great opportunity to refuel and then head back before dark.

    Activity Type: Mountain Biking
    Nearby City: Nordman
    Length: 20.4 total miles
    Elevation Gain: 600 feet
    Trail Type: Out-and-back
    Skill Level: Increasingly strenuous as you ride up the singletrack over many tree roots and wooden bridges to reach the falls. Technical difficulty: Easy to moderate. Singletrack is smooth and buffed in many places.
    Duration: 4 to 5 hours
    Trailhead Elevation: 2,900 feet
    Top Elevation: 3,500 feet

    My friend Ted was a serious back country hiker, but not a mountain biker. His bike resembled something you'd expect to see in an LL Bean catalog, but this was going to be an easy ride and there was no reason for concern. In fact I was wearing long cargo pants, hiking boots, and an insulated jacket myself for the ride. My pack had plenty of food and drink. Ted had his camera gear and a .357 magnum. I had ridden many trails in Washington's black-bear country, but we were now in grizzly bear territory. I asked Ted if the .357 would kill a grizzly bear. His response - "With a good shot it might but plan B would be blowing my brains out before being eaten alive".

    As expected, the ride was smooth and easy. The cool damp air was pleasant and the scenery surrounding us in every direction was phenomenal. I'd never seen so many ferns in my life. With Fall in full force, they created a thick golden canopy underneath the towering evergreens. Very little sunlight reached the moss covered ground. We stopped multiple times for Ted to catch his breath, and take pictures. He complained some along the way about leg pain, but it didn't seem concerning. After a few hours, we reached the last section of trail that required us to leave our bikes and hike about a mile to the Falls. We enjoyed a nice lunch while taking in the scenery and of course taking more pictures. We hiked the mile back to our bikes and still had not seen another soul, despite being out for around 5 hours by then.

    At this point, Ted tells me that he doesn't think he can bike the 8 miles back on the trail to the trailhead. I explain that it is virtually all downhill and that we could make it back in 1.5 hours without stops. He wouldn't listen and insisted that he knew of a trail that would take us up a 1 mile climb to the gravel road that we parked on, and that we'd be able to coast all the way back down to the car from there. I grudgingly went along, and greatly regretted it later. The "1mi climb" ended up being a series of switchbacks up a 13% grade covering around 2 miles. There was very little riding - mostly hike-a-bike. Around 3/4 of the way up, Ted could go no further. He proclaimed simply that I must go on by myself. The plan would be for me to get to the gravel road, coast down to the car, and come back for him. During that time, he would muster up enough strength to make it up to the road.

    I left him with the only flashlight we had, figuring he would need it more than me. Later I recall thinking that I should have argued for carrying the gun with me since I'd be covering much ground on a backcountry road while he would just be pushing his bike up the rest of the single-track climb. With adrenaline kicking in, I raced up the rest of the hill, and just as Ted had said, there was the gravel road at the top. What I didn't find however was any semblance of downhill. I rode mostly uphill for a few miles with the sun quickly setting. I stopped and checked Strava on my phone to make sure I was heading back in the direction of the car. I was but now with every small incline it was me whose legs were giving out, and I found myself walking sections of the road while losing daylight fast. Finally, after about 4 miles on this up-and-down gravel road, I got to the point where it was literally "all downhill from there". However, by that time the only light I had was from the moon and the temperature had already dropped into the 30s.

    Not having to pedal was great, but since I couldn't see any of the huge potholes that littered the entire stretch of road, I was riding the brakes virtually the entire way down the gravel road. My hands and face were numb from cold and all I could think about was being a fatty snack for a hungry grizzly bear desperate to fill its tummy before a long winter nap. Or being tracked by a pack of wolves that would rip me apart for sport alone. I just kept on trucking. It appears that I covered around 5 miles of straight downhill coasting and probably spent a good hour doing it given my slow speed in pitch darkness. Finally out of nowhere appeared my black Acura MDX, looking like an abandoned vehicle in the middle of nowhere. I hurriedly started the car, packed my gear, and cranked up the heat. My ordeal over, I suddenly thought "Ted"! As cold and scared as I was, I couldn't imagine what he was going through. I immediately started up the hill, suddenly feeling much more heroic in the comfort of a warm and capable AWD SUV.

    I went 6 or 7 miles before seeing a glow from the flashlight. Ted had made it up to the gravel road and was walking his bike along. I quickly scooped up his gear while he warmed himself in the car. Out of harm's way and heading back towards civilization, we were able to laugh about the whole ordeal. This is why I ride. Attachment 11932Attachment 11933Attachment 11934
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    Last edited by throet; 06-13-2017 at 07:32 AM.
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  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by throet View Post
    This is why I ride.
    Nice - you should come to R&I at Walnut and share your stories!
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  13. #33
    Live Medium Bamwa's Avatar
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    That looks steep. Elevation gain doesn't equal elevation climbed.
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    This is one example (story) of why I ride.

    My wife had recently gotten a new 29'r and was really starting to appreciate and enjoy it. She had done several of the Texas Cycle Works evening rides and was enjoying them. So much so that every Thursday morning she reminded me we were riding that evening. At the start of one of those rides it was decided we were riding the Travis Country Entrance of BCGB. I didn't know which trail we would be riding, but I was sure my wife wouldn't like any of them for long. I pulled the ride leader aside and said that I would sweep and when she didn't like the trail any more, she and I would drop off and I would lead her back. That was my plan any way.

    So we get to the entrance and take the White Rabbit trail. I just know she is going to balk at some or all of the drops you have to commit to before you can see the landing zone. She doesn't slow down a bit. She sees the rider in front of her ride it so she knows she can ride it. Meanwhile, I am at the back helping the riders who do balk. Or lose their momentum and can't make the next climb. Eventually the group stops to catch up and split into smaller groups. The wife is KILLING IT! She is riding with the lead group and enjoying herself while I am at the back coaching new(er) riders.

    On Jedi, the lead group decides to go ride up the Hill of Life. I know she would not be happy going up the HOL, so I take a group to show them Easy Up to get back. Only I miss a turn and end up on American Byway. By the time we hit the cedar stick bridge, it is getting dark. We pull out our lights. Her light comes on the second it is plugged in (never hit the switch) for about 2 minutes and dies. My lights won't even turn on. It seems I forgot to recharge my battery after the last night ride. So now we are riding Am Byway, in the dark. Fortunately, another rider had a spare light they loaned my wife. And I found that there was enough moonlight for me to see as long as I stayed away from the group. I pulled out about a 50' lead and kept listening for them. Long story short, at about 9:30, we hit Travis Country again.

    Why is this story indicative of why I ride? Because as we were loading our bikes, my wife that I was sure would hate that trail, asked when we could ride it again.
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    Shop Owner/Frame Builder CBaron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by throet View Post
    My last story worth sharing. Upper Priest River Falls, ID....

    This is why I ride.
    Good story. Having been in situations where decisions have to be made, and sometimes with consequence, I can easily fill in all the little nuances that you left out. Your story could have gone badly on many levels. Glad it all worked out in the end.

    Later,
    CJB
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  16. #36
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    I give you mine as a haiku:

    Lone ride, Germany.
    Rows of File Cabinets?
    Wrong. Bees. Allergic!

  17. #37
    MoJo Mother Superior notyal's Avatar
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    I'm not going to lie, most of these stories make me want to quit riding more than go out and find an adventure.

    I've been trying to come up with my best story, but there is a stark difference between adventure and #thisiswhyIride. I ride for the weekly, boring rides where nothing goes wrong. We ride for a few hours, drink a few beers in the parking lot, and smile the rest of the day. I've also ridden a couple of IMBA epic trails where nothing went catastrophically wrong. We had a great, long day in the saddle, more beers, and bigger smiles. This is why I ride.

    I think my hardest/most adventurous day was last year on a trip to Angel Fire. Day 1 in the park was awesome until the last run of the day. I took a spill on an easy segment due to a momentary lapse of attention. I found out when I got back home and got an xray that I had cracked a rib, but for the rest of the trip, all I knew was that it hurt like shit. The next day, we planned to do the Lost Lake trail in Red River (https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/700...k-to-lost-lake). It starts with a 2400' climb, then traverses crazy scree fields with butt puckering exposure, and ends with an awesome descent. I wasn't even sure I could leave the condo in the morning, but with the choice of riding or sitting in a condo alone while my friends go ride or nutting up, I decided to eat a handful of Ibuprofen, smoke a bowl, and see how I felt at the trailhead. (After all, what's the difference between waiting in the truck or waiting in the condo?)

    This is where I wish there was some sort of bear encounter or something. Instead, I dragged ass, rode very timid, walked a lot, gritted my teeth, but finished the ride. That was the most challenging ride I have ever done. Not necessarily from a difficultly perspective, but mentally. The truck (and more so the cooler full of beer) was the best sight I could have imagined. I had a couple Vicodin in pocket that I promptly took, and after drinking a few of the aforementioned beers, we found a bar in town where it happened to be Taco Tuesday. Memories get a little fuzzy from there...but they are all warm and happy. After that, the rest of the trip was never in question. We did SBT the next day and the last day in the park after that. It was a great trip, but I honestly could have done with a little less adventure.
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  18. #38
    Sakajahcreepa Ernest Borgniner's Avatar
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    ^You forgot all the cool stuff.
    Last edited by Ernest Borgniner; 06-13-2017 at 09:26 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by notyal View Post
    I'm not going to lie, most of these stories make me want to quit riding more than go out and find an adventure.
    I know, it's kind of strange. But maybe the point of the stories are that even with the adversity documented in them the riders still ride. "Sure I almost died, but it's worth it."
    That's why we ride.
    throet likes this.

  20. #40
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    Oh I misunderstood. You wanted a tale of adventure.

    Last September we did a trip to Moab. One day a buddy and I were riding Moab Brands and I kept hearing something wrong in my front end. I took the bike to the shop and they said there was a problem inside the front fork. I got my buddies to postpone our Porcupine Rim ride for a day to make sure my bike was fixed and back. But the shop there in Moab had the parts and turned around my fork rebuild overnight. Talk about good service!

    The next day we rode another trail system but not Porcupine Rim. My forks were good but there was a funny noise when I was on the brakes. That night a checked my bike over since the following day we were riding Porcupine Rim (Hazard County was as high as we could go due to snow at the top elevations). I found the front caliper was loose on my fork. I tightened it up and the noise went away.So I quit looking for brake trouble.

    The next morning we shuttled to the parking area at Hazard County. Beautiful Aspen trees were changing color right by the drop off area. The four us us got ready and rode up the climb thru the Aspens. Glorious day to be on the bike. But at that elevation, all of us were taking it easy so we could climb and still breathe. Even so, we passed most of the other riders that shuttled with us.

    Then we got down to the jeep road double track at Kokapeli (sp?). Down hill. Lots of room. Tommy and I got off the brakes and let the bikes run. We were having a great time. But when I hit the brakes to slow down - that nasty metal on metal noise started. As we stopped to wait for the rest of the group I looked at my rear brakes. The pads were toast. I could not see any pad material left - just the backing plate. I found one problem on the front brake and quit looking for more. The brake pads had been worn down and had just now gone metal on metal.

    I had ridden Porcupine Rim once before. I knew I wanted some rear brake for the last mile. That is where the trail is narrow, exposed and sketchy as hell. Not where I wanted to ride when I didn't have good reliable brakes. So I started riding "different'. Since I couldn't slow down - I didn't want to go all that fast on the downhills. Yeah, Porcupine is mostly down hill. But I didn't want to hold up the group so I would hammer the climbs or the technical sections. Even then I was in their way on the downhills and they were in my way on the other sections. And I started cussing myself for not checking the rear brakes.

    Eventually, I pulled out enough of a lead that I stayed out front. That way I had a clear trail when I could hammer and I was not in anybody's way on the downhills. I would stop when I lost track of the rest of the groups talking / sounds.

    Then I got to the "adventure" section. You remember that section of about 100' of down hill slick rock that is so steep that you ride it with your saddle in your sternum? Yeah, I forgot about that section. I started down it - slowly - before I remembered it. Once I was on it I remembered it. Oh yeah, that was about the time my rear wheel lifted up because I was using the front brake only. I though about stopping to try to walk down it. Then I recognized it was so steep and my Sidi shoes so slick I probably could not walk down it. So I thought about laying the bike down and sliding down on my butt. Then I recognized that this "slick rock" was like 80 grit sandpaper. If I fell or laid the bike down, I would probably slide to the bottom and leave a *LOT* of skin on the rock. So my best bet was to use the superior traction of my tires and let them take any abuse rather than my skin. All of these thoughts probably took a second or two but that felt like an hour or two.

    While these thoughts are running thru my head, I have started down the ~100 feet slick rock with my saddle in my sternum, my arms fully locked straight and my rear wheel touching the rock every once in a while. My front brake is the only speed control because even though I am willing to use some rear brake, my rear wheel is in the air. As I modulate the front brake to try to slow down, the rear wheel lifts higher. If I let off the front brake a hair, the rear wheel gets lower but my speed increases. I made the whole section trying to keep from going over the bars as top priority with speed control as second priority. Fortunately, there is not much turning required and there is an easy run-out at the bottom. I just had to keep the bike straight and not go over the bars.

    I cleared that section without an incident (crash). But at the bottom I stopped to collect my thoughts, clear my head, and get my mojo back. At that point I had to remind myself that if I had had a rear brake I would not have ridden it that much different. I bet the other time I rode it my rear wheel had so little traction that I really wasn't able to use much rear brake anyway. I had just started into this section a little bit faster than last time because I didn't recognize what was coming up, not because of my rear brake. That made the rest of the ride go a lot better.

    I made the whole Porcupine Rim from Hazard County with no rear brake and no falls. I did walk a few places on the last mile. If I had a rear brake I would not have thought twice about riding some of those. There are still a few spots on that lower section I chose not to ride. And the Notch / Notch Bypass. I don't think I will ever ride those. The consequence of failure is just to high for me on some of those spots.

    If you can't tell - I am still kicking myself for not checking that rear brake before the ride.
    throet and CBaron like this.

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