I headed up to the Twilight Trails near Mt Charleston with Holly, Ashlie & three other kids from their bike crew or posse or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Holly & Ashlie & Rick have kind of taken me under their collective wing (well, Rick has me under both his canyoneering wing and his biking wing….err…this is beginning to sound really awkward. I’m gonna stop) and seem determined to take me from “girl with a cheapo bike who doesn’t know anything about the sport & just rides around on dirt roads” to, well….a mountain biker. I love it. I didn’t think I’d like biking so much, and I also didn’t think it would be so hard! It’s awesome to have people to go out with, even better that they know what they’re doing & can help me improve. The downside (it’s not really a downside) is that they’re really good, so if I want to tag along, I also have to be really good. Well, that’s kind of a lie. They invite me on trails that I’m capable of, and they’re reaalllly awesome about waiting for me & not making me feel crappy for being slow. But the trails are enough to give THEM a good workout, so for me they’re really tough. Which is good, I need that. But I push myself to the point of throwing up at least three times whenever I go with them. Just sayin’.
I was worried about going because I feel bad making people wait for me…especially people I’ve never met before. But since Holly assured me I’d be fine & the group was patient, and because the name of the trail was Twilight, I went. Now I’m no Twi-hard but I do fancy myself some Edward Cullen and I can’t help but get romantic feelings whenever I hear the word Twilight. In addition, the word is able to inspire me to do things I’d be too scared to try otherwise.
So I’m driving to the trail and in my head I’m picturing a few hours of dreamy, peaceful riding through Forks, Wa. This is not what the ride was like. First of all, I was still in the Vegas desert, but that’s a’ight. I can get down with some Josh trees. We were a little higher elevation so it was in the nineties, 98 by the time we finished riding. Nobody with us had ever done this trail but were going by word of mouth and also the very obvious bike trail.
It was hard. A lot of uphill. See, cross-country trails are kind of a mystery to me, because a loop always seems to have way more uphill than down. One thing I like about mountain biking is that everyone bitches about going uphill. Even people in perfectly good shape start groaning when they see a hill. They still do it, they just complain about doing it. I like this, because that’s how I am. I think complaining gets an unfair rap so that’s why mountain bikers are cool….they’re willing to break the mold.
After a mile and a half, the trail sporked off in three directions. We tried all ways….one turned into a crappy road, one didn’t really look like a trail, so we took the third one. It was right, technically….just the wrong way, going the wrong direction of the loop. There was a long section of fun downhill weaving through desert plants. I rode through some horse shit too fast and it splattered on me, and I got smacked in the face by a Creosote bush. I almost took a face plant but somehow vaulted over my bike and landed on my feet in front of it. (Where did this coordination come from?!) But anyways, what goes downhill must always go uphill, and I wasn’t the only one walking my bike up the next part.
We took a break in a tiny spot of shade. The trail was harder than expected, partly because we were going the wrong way, but it wasn’t killer. A lot of us were low on energy, either from hard workouts the previous day, hangovers, me being new & getting my ass handed to me, etc. Plus, it was hot. We’d started a bit too late for this long of a ride, but we hadn’t expected it. I hadn’t brought any food, thinking we’d ride for 2 hours and go home like we had the last time. I had 3 liters of water but I’d already sucked down 2/3 of it like it was a strawberry margarita.
The trail was a lot of fun though, with a little bit of everything…except downhill sections. There were fancy technical parts that would have been more fun if my bike could’ve absorbed ANY of the shock. I did a lot of hike-a-bike but the hills were steep & technical enough to make almost everyone hop off & walk their bikes at times, and pushing a bike up a hill isn’t as much of a break as it seems.
Last time I’d checked, I’d had .5 liters of water left. There is nothing I hate more than not having enough water when working out. I would rather finish my workout hungry, sick or cold, but feeling thirsty brings my moral to a dead stop. I don’t know if it’s a discomfort thing or if it’s a survival mechanism telling me to stop exercising or I’ll die. People who’ve been stranded without water say it’s the only thing you think about, and you can’t drive the thirst out of your mind. I’m like….”I KNOW! I once had to ration a half liter of water over two hours of mountain biking in 100*!!!!” I think people can train themselves to work on less water, as long as they hydrate before and after. I wonder if they get that thirst feeling and just push through it? But I’m used to guzzling water…during the summer at work I drink at least a gallon a day, even if I don’t do much. So I’ve the opposite of trained my body to work on less water. Which is just inconvenient. Because now, for the second bike ride adventure in a row, I was rationing out sips of water.
Except yesterday I was 4 miles from my house at night on a paved trail with a functioning cell-phone and a shopping-center a hundred feet away (those 4 miles were all uphill, alright?). Right now, we had no idea how much further we had to go, we were’t sure which of the few trails branching out in front of us we were supposed to take, and we were hot. Troy biked ahead to scout out the trail while the slower kids caught up to the superhero kids. He said he’d come back but hadn’t yet, so we figured we’d catch up to him.
Thankfully, the last section back to the cars was downhill coasting, which was a nice treat. We didn’t catch up to Troy but we’d gone slow and figured he’d gone back to the cars. I managed to stretch my water til the end, and even saved a few sips for emergency-use only! So proud 🙂 Holly got a flat, but besides that it was smooth sailing back to the car and my Gatorade. And lunch! We’d been riding hard & hot for hours (yeah, you like that?) and we were pooped.
We got back to the cars, and Troy wasn’t there. We definitely hadn’t seen him on the trail, but if he’d taken another trail wouldn’t he have stopped to wait for us like he said? Everyone insisted that it was really unlike him to go ahead without waiting for the rest of the group and they were genuinely worried about him. We had no cell service, not enough energy to bike back out yet, but we did have lots of cars. We split up and drove down the dirt roads that had intersected the bike trails. After looking for about 45 minutes or so, we decided to go back. We’d exhausted all the road options that didn’t risk us getting cars stuck. If he wasn’t back yet, we’d call the rangers for help.
By the time we got back, he had managed to call someone from the group to let him know he was OK. A half hour or so later, he and his rescuer arrived. Troy had picked the wrong trail and after going back downhill it hit a major climb. Troy was like….F that, I’m lost, so he grabbed the trail we’d been on and went back the way we’d come. When this old guy (Chuck) came across him, he’d run out of water and was cramping pretty badly. Chuck gave him some water and brought him back to us, safe and sound!
(SEE?!!?! Running out of water sucks! )