Shouldering the fall - and the fun

Another warm weekend with nothing to do but ride my bike. Awesome! I was even luckier that Nick wasn't riding with the guys on Saturday and could ride with me. We both wanted something different, so decide to head up to Ute Valley Park. I've only ridden there twice - once many years ago when rocks scared me and during The Dirty Du Duathlon last year. Way back when, Nick stuck to the easy trails so I wouldn't kill him and the race just used the outer perimeter trail. So I really didn't know what to expect in this ride. I asked if I could ride my HT - wanting the power numbers for a least one ride this weekend. Nick didn't say no, so I took that as a yes. The ride got off to a bad start when I realized I hadn't charged my Gamin and had no battery left (first world problems for sure). So after a delay to push as much power as I could and hopefully get all three hours of riding, we finally headed out.

Nick had the route all planned in his mind - Santa Fe north, then cut into Ute on the eastern end. We made good time heading north, managing to dodge all the other trail users. Once in Ute, it was all singlet track fun. Nick loves riding the rocks and technical stuff and he's gradually making our rides harder as I progress. I was a little out of it to start and slid our twice in the sand - having to unclip to prevent a fall. We took some new trails I didn't even know existed in the park. I was having fun, but riding slow - I would have had more fun with some suspension! Lots of talking to myself, but I managed to ride the first big rock drop without too many issues. Passed a lady with a dog that yapped at me in the middle of the park, and back into the trees. We did a small loop around on some of the main and smaller trails. I was working hard to keep up with Nick, but every time we crested a hill or hit some rocks, he was gone. As a result, when we looped back around into the center of the park, I was a bit behind him. And that distance would be more important then I realized. He passed a guy hiking, who stepped to the side of the trail. But I was far enough behind that the hiker stepped back into the trail. I swerved to avoid him and hit something. I think it was a sturdy tree branch, but not sure. Whatever it was, it enough to stop my bike. I however kept moving forward. Head over heels, supermaning towards the ground. I managed to tuck a little, but my right shoulder took the brunt of the impact. Nick didn't even see the crash - he was yards up the trail. After a quick shake up and check of my brakes, I went chasing after Nick. My shoulder hurt like heck, but it didn't hurt to ride. So we continued our explorations of Ute. I was a little shooken up, but did my best on the technical stuff. My shoulder ached every time I tried pulling my front tire into a wheelie or hopping my rear tire over a rock. One more big rock drop - which Nick gunned it to get ahead of some kids on big down hill bikes. I followed along, trying to be smooth and fluid over the rocks. It was all rollable, but I was still pretty nervous going down. Then out of the park to start heading home.

More trails I didn't know about - these in the Garden of the Gods. Yes, there are some legal mountain biking trails in the park, traversing the ridge west of Rock Ledge Ranch. I'm not sure how many trails are in that area, but the one we rode was pretty fun. I was just getting really tired, my shoulder really hurting and loosing some of my ability to throw my bike around. We still had to get through Red Rocks to get home and I wasn't looking forward to that. Luckily, Nick knew my shoulder was starting to really hurt and took the easiest single track route through Red Rocks. I think the pain in my shoulder was affecting my riding more then the fatigue from chasing Nick. I tried the big line on the rocks near the end of the Hogs Back, but didn't make it - cheated to the right and got stuck. Ugh. At least we were almost home. A few more water bars and railroad ties in Bear Creek to deal with, then I could ice my shoulder and assess the damage.

It didn't feel like anything was broken, but plenty of movements - including getting my shirt on and off - hurt so bad. It was nearly impossible to get my sports bra off! And I'd broken my helmet in the crash... Time for a new lid! With all if that, I was pretty sure I would be stuck on the trainer Sunday. I could ride, but didn't want to stress things. But warm weather and sunshine make people do stupid things. When I woke up Sunday, my shoulder ached but felt mostly okay. After Nick offered to bail on his planned ride and ride with me, I decided to heck with the trainer. Let's go find some fun and easy dirt! I might not make the whole ride, but it was better then being stuck inside...

If I look scared, it's because I was focused on NOT crashing! Second attempt at the rock garden...

Don't look at the rocks, don't look at the rocks - riding hard while worrying about crashing isn't easy!
So what does someone the day after a hard crash with a bum shoulder go and do for fun? Head north to Monument and ride Stupid Trail! Fit with the idea of riding that day... But it was great. The trails were fun, I was able to ride most things. There were some sections that I decided to walk through - both up and down - I just didn't have the strength to manhandle the bike up and over some of the bigger rocks and I was very timid going down. I didn't want to crash again and make a bad thing worse. There is so much fun riding up in Monument. We'd only done two hours, barely even touching the bulk of the trails in the lower preserve area. I wanted to keep riding because I was having so much fun, but my shoulder was starting to really tighten up. Add in the fact that I was riding like a wimp in places and it was time to head back to the jeep. And time for a few days off the mountain bike! To the garage I go, to let my shoulder and my psyche heal!
This is more like it - small rocks and smooth trails

Having fun! Can't beat a ride with my husband on fun trails in great weather!


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