Just a woman on wheels – not
Having owned a mountain bike for, I dunno, five years or something, I finally decided to take a “real” mountain bike ride. It was more like a real mountain bike walk.When a friend of mine casually mentioned an upcoming Women on Wheels gathering, I decided a solo test run might be in order. No way was I going to humiliate myself in front of a bunch of Front Range ber chicks with single-track minds without gauging my abilities in private first.It’s sort of the same philosophy I apply to biking apparel – anything made of lycra should be tried on in total isolation and assessed with a critical eye before it’s worn in public.I’d been waiting for the city to finish building that new bike/pedestrian bridge across the Maroon Creek gorge so I could tackle the legendary Government Trail, but bypass the treacherous set of switchbacks down to the creek and up the other side. My strategy worked perfectly. Crossing the shiny new span allowed me to link up with the trail on the far side of the gorge and ride all of 50 feet or so before I had to dismount. That’s 50 feet farther than I’d have ridden without the bridge.I spent most of the rest of the “ride” pushing my bike up a dusty trail that was rarely wide enough for both of us.”Boy, this is fun,” I kept reminding myself sardonically.It was only pure stubbornness, disguised as pluck and determination, that kept me going.Sure, I did get back in the saddle on occasion, like when I wanted to sit down and rest.Now I’ve hiked up the Government Trail toward Snowmass several times, and it’s a pretty easy trek as hikes go. I figured I’d have some trouble spots, but I seemed to recall long stretches of trail that weren’t going to give me fits on a bike. I could envision my muscular legs powering me across the face of Buttermilk. I would zip along the trail, the tall grass and aspen groves passing through my peripheral vision in a verdant blur.It turns out I was delirious even before exhaustion set in.You know, it’s really hard to steer a bike in a straight line when you’re traveling at a glacial pace. My front tire was weaving around like I was drunk.I also had issues with my pedals. Though I’ve finally grown accustomed to clipless pedals on the road, I was far too timid to lock my feet in for a trail ride. Since I never knew exactly when my forward progress would inevitably grind to a halt, I kept my shoes unclipped so I could put a foot down quickly.While this approach prevented any embarrassing/painful spills – a high priority for me no matter what the endeavor – it also made effective pedaling nearly impossible.After more than an hour of pushing my bike, I was getting blisters on my feet and I had yet to exit West Buttermilk.I called it a day and turned around. I’m happy to report the ride back was much easier, as I got to walk downhill.Janet Urquhart’s next step is either a mountain biking clinic or a “bike for sale” ad in the classifieds. Her column appears on Fridays.
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Columnist Roger Marolt is learning to hold his breath longer during these hot, dry summers, he writes.