After Sunday-Funday at Nassahegan, the Preserves fit my mood. It’s a hard ride. Where rock gardens don’t grow, it’s steep. The climb ratio is between 150 feet and 200 feet per mile. The trails are narrow and often overhung with mountain laurel and hemlocks. Not much about it flows except for the streams at the four crossings. It’s old-school mtbing. I have never cleaned it, but it’s not so hard as to prevent me from thinking that I might.
I sessioned some harder stuff. I cleaned a couple of sections for the first time, and came damn close on others. The results were a combination of frustration and satisfaction. The satisfaction is obvious – You get up something and you feel good. The frustration runs deeper. It’s all me. I know how to get up that. But I don’t put everything into the pedals, or I’m geared too low to maintain momentum, or I’m geared too high and can’t get the pedal over, or I glance away from the line and the bike follows my eyes off the trail, or I don’t get far enough over the bars and the front wheel comes up or I get too far over the bars and the back wheel spins out. But it’s a process, and in that process is satisfaction also, in that I’m beginning to understand the why of not cleaning trails.
I won some and lost some. It was hot and it was feeding time for the deer flies and mosquitoes. When I rode out of the woods, sweat slimed my body everywhere except for where the dust on my shins had absorbed it. Bug bites itched in a dozen places. My quads burned. Oddly, I wasn’t bleeding anywhere.
Good enough though. Despite the non-sanguinary nature of the ride, my Calvinist soul was sanguine enough to justify a dip in the Shepaug. If you’ve never finished a hot ride with a swim in free-flowing water, you haven’t really lived.