Sunday, November 27, 2011

A New Beginning

 Christine's new bike.
For those with a discerning eye, yes, we have crossed the line. New adventures in the wilderness. New trips into pastures. New, fearless treks on super chunky chip seal.
Roy's new bike.
Note, not once have I called the bikes Mountain Bikes. That is because mine is more of a Hill Bike, and can't even make it up some of the hills, much less any mountains.
No snickering from anyone from San Angelo. This was our first outing. You have to start somewhere. For those not from San Angelo, Strawberry Trail is a short, flat, winding course for kids and the cautious. I think I saw some training wheel ruts, but I have to admit, once I got over 4 mph, some of those curves were challenging.  
 Christine negotiating a turn on Strawberry Trail. (Editor's note: The uber-caution was precipitated by the falls on each the two previous mtb rides...otherwise I'm pretty much fearless.)
 With our feet now wet, we ventured off onto a nature trail that led to a bird watching station.
 When you peep through the fence, this is what you see. But if you ride back there, you scare all the birds away. Sort of defeats the purpose of going to the bird watching sanctuary.
 Back in civilization, Christine decided she was just going to stick to the paved areas. She was going to take it easy on our first outing despite the fact it is hard to take it easy in 54 degree weather with the wind NNW at 22 mph and occasional, interesting gusts of wind. She was trying out some of her new cold weather gear and it worked. (Now I think I hear snickering from other parts of the country such as Edie from Massachusetts or Wilbur from Minnesota  To them, 54 is a balmy afternoon. Not sure if they have wind up there, haven't heard them complain about the wind but have heard mention of snow drifts.) 
 I, being more adventuresome, decided to get off the paved road as I was now on an off-road hill bike. Winding Snake Trail was a little lot more challenging than Strawberry Trail. As the sign says, Winding Snake would just zig and zag for a longer time than Strawberry.  
The silly snake they named this after liked to zig and zag up and down hills.
 Forgot to mention. Rapidly way back on Strawberry Trail, I found you could not just ride along and take a picture of the scenery or surroundings such as you can on a road bike. On a "mountain bike," one is using the upper, lower, middle part of the body and hopefully have the brain engaged. So, the pictures posted are for the most part taken from a stopped position. If I recall this terrain correctly, I did not stop to take a nice picture. I stopped because my "mountain bike" couldn't make it up this hill.
 Huh? I was finally on some relatively flat terrain but the sun was in my eyes. I decided to "slow down" as I did not know the trail well enough to go "fast." I was blinded so I stopped--and in the sun--it appeared my trail just disappeared. How could the trail just end? As my eves adjusted, some tumble weeds had blown into the trail blocking it. I did a cyclocross maneuver and continued on my way.  
 It was way down the path when it dawned on me. Why didn't I move the tumble weeds? Another biker moving much faster than I was could round the corner for a big surprise. Could be an oweee.   
 Slowly I came out of the wilderness and almost back into civilization.
 I said slowly.
 Ta Dah. Civilization AKA Burkett Trail. Has a water fountain and rest room facility. A jumping off point for mountain bikers who know what they are doing--and can do it.
 Me? It was time to start heading back to the staging area. I took this trail. (Forgot its name). Christine, who met me at Burkett Trail, decided to continue on the paved areas and would meet me back at the parking lot.
 Going back was not all downhill and smooth trails.
 The obligatory fall.
All of our mountain bike friends tell their war stories of falling, bruising, bleeding, and landing in cactus/thorns. So now I have mine. One can see that the trail is on a slight decline with a curve. I was going pretty fast, probably 6 mph, and hit the sand on the outer part of the rut. Front wheel went out from under me and plunk! When I hit the ground, I slid backwards a little, just enough to slide into a cactus thorn.

Although I did not bleed or bruise, I now have my war story. And I hope that it is my worst one in all of the upcoming adventures on a real mountain bike.
All's well that ends well. And my end didn't have any remaining thorns that needed to be removed.

Post script: On the return route, Christine became adventurous and took a short cut back to the parking lot using Tasajillo Flats. She negotiated it quite well and may even join me on the next ride as I seek out flatter trails, fewer rocks, fewer hills, less steep inclines/declines, fewer thorns, fewer cacti, fewer tumble weeds, fewer tight curves, and less sand. And a spa at the end of the trail.


  1. LOL you deserve to be Mtn bikers, now just get fat it will be perfect fit, old fat mtn bikers that is what happens to old roadies that can't hang on the road any longer. soon you will not be ridding at all, if what you do could be called ridding at all.

  2. @anonymous: yep, mountain bike junk miles. : )

  3. Sweet hill bikes! I'm having enough trouble negotiating pavement so I doubt I'll ever venture onto something so treacherous as dirt.
    As far as having wind here, I think it's something we expect so unless it's trying to push us over or blowing snow into our faces, it's considered a part of the "fun."
    I'm glad you pointed out that bird sanctuary. I thought it was a high-end outhouse.

  4. @Edie: Only upscale Texas ranchers would have such an outhouse. It would easily be a three-holer.

  5. Thorns and cactus??? reminds me of my sister in Italy on "The Walls of Pain".

    She said as long as she was making forward progress, no matter how small, she stayed on her bike. Eventually she had to get off and decided have a pee.

    (Now the story gets rather visual--close your eyes, Roy). She was wearing an all-in-one lycra suit that she had to unzip and pull all the way down to her knees. She assumed the position, and the next thing she knew, she was doing backwards summersaults down the hill towards a two mile drop-off. She managed to throw out the anchors and stopped her rapid descent and near disaster, only to finally register the burning nettle stings all over her exposed tender parts!

    ah...biking stories!!!
    Enjoy your new bikes and slow down on the trails.

  6. Rosemary, nothing could top that image. I'm speechless. I'll never tell your sister that you've made her international entertainment. (Christine)

  7. Yay! Now come do the 9-mile loop with us on a Sunday afternoon!

  8. @Debbie: Looking forward to it. However, it will have to be Sunday after next. This Sunday will be the Ride Through the Christmas Lights. Hope you can make it. Always a fun ride.

    Santa on his new mountain bike will lead the kids-big and small.