Follow my line

So I'm laying in the dirt, 20 feet below the trail with my bike on top of me and my only thought is "I'm happy I wasn't on my Camber!" Funny how our minds work at times... Usually Nick lets me ride which ever bike I want. Usually - sometimes he'll over rule my choice. For Saturday's ride, I really wanted to ride my Camber. Nick said I was gonna want the 2x on the Stumpy and so that's what I was riding. And as usual, Nick was right. But I digress.

When I told Nick I had a four hour ride, with plenty of climbing scheduled, he immediately had a route in mind. All I had to do was follow him, pace myself to ride strong the whole time and have fun. We rolled out of the house with loaded packs, warm clothes and sense of adventure. I knew we were headed towards Manitou, thru Red Rocks, but didn't know more then that. The first hour went smoothly. We got to ride the new entrance to Section 16 - good for climbing but not as much fun for descending... Then we rode up Section 16 to Intemann trail, and dropped down into Red Rocks. The trails were much quieter then I'd anticipated and we were able to keep riding hard all the way across Round Up. I was feeling comfortable on my Stumpy and riding everything so far. Before the last segments of Round Up, Nick turned up again for a fun little descent. Then we climbed back up to Intemann trail to keep riding towards Manitou. I'd never been on that section of trail, but was feeling pretty confident. It was fun - narrow and rolling with plenty to keep me focused on the trail. Two very tight switchbacks - didn't make either one, but almost got the second one. And then Nick paused, turning around to tell me about an upcoming rock feature. "Follow my line over this rock," he said. Okay. Should be easy enough. I stuck to his wheel as close as I could. We reached the rock and he repeated "follow my line."

High left on the rock, close to edge of the trail. What was so difficult about that? I wondered as I approached the rock. I didn't catch the little wheelie or body throw Nick added as well as the high left line. So I went left, pulled up my front tire to clear the first rock and... Oh shit. There was more to this rock then I'd thought! Instead of having enough speed and upward throw on my front wheel to clear the second rock, I'd only prepared for the first rock. Almost made it, trying to force my wheel over the gap between the rocks, I could see exactly what was going to happen. My front wheel stuffed in small space and it was all over. I tried to recover from the impending flight, but couldn't. The bike tipped one way, I pulled a foot out to brace the fall but found only air. After that, my only thought was "don't land on the cacti!" That itself was a tall order as the entire area below the trail was littered with prickly pear. I'm not entirely sure what happened between that thought and finally coming to a rest below the trail with my bike on top of me. It must have looked bad because when I rolled over onto my side, Nick had a look of horror behind his sunglasses. He was quick to encourage me to climb back up onto the trail once I started moving. I knew I hadn't managed to avoid all the cacti and was very focused on the spines digging into my left index finger. It took me a few minutes to get organized and drag my bike back up to the trail. Physically, I was fine. I'd whacked my left shin hard on something - still not sure what, and had cacti in more places then I cared. But other then that, I was okay. Nick pulled one of the spines out of my finger and I turned my attention to my bike.

Huh. That's not good. After a crash, the first thing I always check is my brakes - after all, getting back on a bike without brakes is a good way to crash again! And while I had brakes, there was something seriously wrong with my rear rotor. We finished out the section of singletrack - I walked the one of the two sets of stairs trying to get my head back together. I was talking to my self again and not worried about anything. Finally on the road, we got a chance to look at my rear brake rotor. Wow. Somehow in the middle of my flight, I'd bent the rotor completely out of whack with a noticeable wiggle-wobble during every revolution. That would make for a long day for sure. We still had more then two hours left to ride and I didn't really have solid rear brakes. And of course I hadn't brought any money with me to be able to buy a new rotor. We rode to Manitou and stopped again. Nick pulled my rear wheel off and worked some magic on the rotor. Better. I could actually pedal the bike again. I could feel the wobble in the rotor every time I squeezed my rear break lever, but it was rideable. On with the climbing!

And there was plenty of that to come. We rode thru Manitou, up Ruxton and then onto Ute Pass Trail. Just before the water tower, I was off the bike walking. My shin was throbbing, but my finger was hurting more. I hadn't gotten all the cacti out - and I could tell there was some cacti behind my right knee as well. When we reached to turn off, I finally got the last spine pulled out of my finger but chose to ignore the ones behind my knee. We took Ute Pipeline down, popping out right at the base of the Incline to the amazed stares of all the tourons. Then back to Intemann to finish out the ride. We didn't take all of Intemann - skipping the part where I'd gone flying on the way to Manitou. Into Red Rocks, where I opted to stick to the easier trails for the end. I was getting tired and wanted to stay safe on the bike. Clean through the Hogsback, down the new Section 16 chunk (not fun going down at all...) and on to Gold Camp. Usually when I hit Gold Camp at that point in a ride, I'm dead tired. Tongue hanging on the ground tired... This time, I wanted to finish out strong. I kept the tempo up, surprising Nick with one of the small accelerations as we climbed to the entrance into Stratton. For the first time, I'd kept the focus and held the pace on the final climb. My legs were tired, but responding well. The descent through Stratton was fun as usual and soon we were finished. I'd gotten in a good ride despite a warped brake rotor, had my ego well checked by a rock and generally had fun. The best kind of ride. I still need to work on holding those wheelies a little longer to be able to clear rock gaps.....

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