Get Off The Path

I have wanted to give the trails at Shuniah Mines up in behind Centennial/Trowbridge a try for some time and finally got there this afternoon. Sal dropped me in the parking lot on her way to work and I rode in confidently, under the expressway and started up Hydro Hill. About half way up the steep rocky path I started slowing down as Bridget's back wheel was spinning in the loose rock. I pushed her a bit and then resumed the climb only to have the same thing happen shortly after. I had picked the Blue Trail but had no idea how difficult it was or even where it went for that matter, about 2 miles in I knew I was in over my head. I turned back and went for the Red Trail which was tough but rideable.
Real mountain biking is much harder than I thought. I've read lots about the techniques of riding trails but not really done much. The trails at Shuniah Mines feature smooth narrow singletrack, steep climbs and descents, boulders and roots galore, and mud, lots of mud. Once I got the hang of things I wanted more but without a map I was a bit worried as Nathan Petrie had warned me it was easy to get lost. I never felt I was getting lost but nearly got tossed a few times.
I was riding along and heard some trees cracking in the distance, thought nothing of it, and continued on to a fork in the trail. As I decided which path to take I heard more cracking right over head and quickly spun back away from the fork in the direction I had come. Crash! a large section of a dead birch landed on the fork where I had been pondering just seconds before. When my heart resumed normal functions and I started breathing I grabbed a few pictures. The top arrow indicates the tree that broke, the middle a section about 8 inches in diameter and probably 10-12 feet long and the bottom arrow some of the branches that broke off. The steep climbs had told me I was in over my head and now the trees were telling me to get off the path so I headed back but not before taking one last small trail. I came so close to going over the bars. I ended up on my feet with the bars at my knees and caught the top tube as Bridget swung around behind me. I had gotten too far forward and the front tire hit a root and stopped dead. The rear wheel came up as I kept going forward, any faster and I would have been flying. I guess I'm a roadie after all. But I did enjoy the challenge. You have to be watching both 6 feet in front of the front wheel for the close obstacles and 30 feet ahead for the path of least resistance. Bridget came home muddy and limping a bit from my messing with her gears.

August Miles:35 miles
08-01, Molly:8 miles
08-02, Bridget:17 miles
08-02, Molly:10 miles

1 comment:

dwadson said...

Sounds like even more "fun" then the experience I had back there. Figured I'd ride from Trowbridge to the Cascades based on 20-year old memories of an "easy" trail that goes along the river. Ended up being at least an hour of hell trudging up gravel-covered hills and dodging around mud puddles covering the entire trail while futility trying to swat away mosquitos.

"Escape" was coming out of the bush in the middle of the highway with a nice ride on the gravel shoulder to Balsam Street while transports went buzzing bye. Suffice to say, in no rush to go back. The ride from Centennial to Trowbridge is enough trail riding for me. :)