The Dirt

Aside from all the fun holiday celebrations, my absolute favorite thing this past week was getting back to the dirt. Some women like perfume. I like the smell of dirt. The sting of the crisp, cool air. And the sound of the reeds rustling in the wind. I got it all when I went for a trail run on the afternoon before Christmas Eve. It turned out to be 4.33 miles and it felt just right. I had to walk it in a couple of the steep spots, but overall I was able to run. And I’m very happy to report that it didn’t feel like I needed to borrow a lung. I was truly surprised that it felt that good. I did not expect that YET.

So the day after Christmas, I did it all over again. Both days, I went out in my new XTERRA XR 1.0 shoes. They felt super-comfortable out there. No complaints whatsoever.

On Sunday, I had my monthly trail patrol for the California State Parks. My third time back. Keith, the Governor, lead the way. I started out great and made it up a mile climb without too much trouble, although I’m sure I was quite slow. When we hit “No Dogs” I couldn’t make it up the second hill, and I didn’t clip out fast enough. I didn’t want to land on my knee and instead I kind of hyper-extended my left leg and fell backwards. Next thing I knew I was on the ground on my back with my Santa Cruz Blur stuck between my legs at an awkward angle. A little embarrassing trying to extricate myself and get back up, except no one witnessed it. Ha! Keith and Dan were already waiting at the top. Falling is just part of mountain biking. But I could feel the disparity in my quad muscle strength as I attempted the climb. It’s a little bit of a bummer, but I know it will get better.

It messed with my head for the rest of the ride though. We went on a new singletrack trail that was built with Keith’s help while I was away – Ticketron. Normally, it would’ve been no problem. Okay, maybe I would have popped off the bike in a couple of places. Instead, I walked a lot of it with my bike. The steep climb out of Deer Canyon usually called for some hike-a-biking, but I was doin’ way more hikin’ than bikin’. When we arrived at the first stretch of single track on Fenceline, it was no problem, but the second stretch, I had to clip out so quickly and so often that I gave up and walked the rest of the way. My knee ached a little – enough to give up on the idea of doing a brick workout with a little run afterwards. I got through it. I went to places I haven’t been to in a long time on my mountain bike.

And I had a lot of fun hanging out with the guys. Dan thought for sure that he would slow us down. Nope, it was me. When we stopped for some nutrition, I mentioned that I really liked the Hammer Gel Apple Cinnamon flavor. I said, “Wow, this tastes just like apple pie.” Dan replied right back, “Oh, I’d need ice cream with that…” Which pretty much gives you the flavor of the conversation that went back and forth between three immature trail patrol volunteers. When we arrived back in the parking lot, we had a visit from 734’s Dad who rode across a couple of mountain ranges to meet up with us and say “Hi!” What a guy! Next week, I get to do it all over again. Hmmm, maybe I’ll take a different route. Would you believe Slow ‘n Easy? Yup, that’s a trail. A winding mile-and-a-quarter fire road.