Friday, August 6, 2010

Rewarding Night Ride

Trying to get caught up here. We had a couple late nights so I never had a chance to update the blog! Wednesday brought us to Buckwallow Cycling Center. It's very popular as it has a balanced mix of moderate technical rock and fast flowing singletrack. A great challenge for a weekend warrior and just tough enough to keep an advanced rider occupied. This place has a welcoming committee. You arrive at the parking lot and within minutes someone is there to greet you. Well I think it had more to do with they wanted to collect the money for the trail fee, but nonetheless it's different from the typical 'honour' system of a drop-box. At $10 a head it's a steep price to ride trails, but these trails are very well marked and maintained and these guys have earned every penny. The ride started off on the most technical singletrack. It probably wasn't a good choice for a warmup, and in retrospect it was technical but a lousy technical with no obvious good lines. Perhaps after seeing it once or twice it would help as you know what to expect. I failed miserably at this section, or maybe I was tired from the day before. Regardless after that things looked up! We got our rythm back and were knocking off trails left and right. It was our second time here so we knew enough of the trails to peice together a great flow. Surprising we ran into a few famillies out on the trails. Some were in the intermediate trails which I suspect was way over there ability. I'm guessing the seen a 'cycling center' in a tourist brochure but didn't understand that bikes cand do some amazing things on rocks and logs. In the end we found the one family didn't even bring helmets. It's mandatory bike helmets here obviously. Helmets save lives. I'm guessing his daughters didn't want to mess up there hair or something, but ultimately I strongly believe in bike helmets. Obviously wearing one is not foolproof but it's so easy to bump your head on the silliest of falls and your life is changed forever. Not worth it in my opinion. I feel naked on a bike without one. The plan was to do a lap, picnic our lunch and then head out again. Our first lap took quite a bit longer than expected and we didn't get our night ride in the night before so instead we just picnic'd and headed back to the hotel for rest in prep for Torrance Barrens. Admittedly I was a bit nervous about the whole night ride on trails we didn't know very well. Fran was downright scared about the wildlife. We had a bear bell but I don't know what we would do if we ran into a wolf or something. The place is super dark and somewhat deep backcountry trails on wide open area rock. When we night ride around home you can see a crazy amount of glowing eyes looking back at you from the reflection of the lights. There is always a ton of wildlife hiding in trees that you can't see in the day. It's spooky. So being up North, we were a bit worried about what's behind the glowing eyes as there are much bigger wildlife to worry about up here. Well we fired up the lights and headed out. The trailhead had a few cars in it as it looks like a fair number of astronomers were here to take advantage of a clear sky on an official Dark Sky reserve. Right off the bat we took a wrong turn. I was following my GPS course that I downloaded of the internet but made missed a proper turn. Once we were back on track it was smooth sailing. The trail was surprising easier to follow in the pitch dark as the trail markers were paint on rock which reflected just enough light to see where to go next. Remember this is open rock landscape so there is very few trees or anything to connect a sign to. We stopped a few times to turn off the lights and look up to see a crazy number of stars. It was a perfectly calm warm night, we couldn't have asked for better conditions. Fran freaked out a few times about sounds of 'things following her'. I think she watches too much TV. I reassured her that no matter what happens, I know I can run faster and bike faster than her so I know I'll be fine. :) We did half of the figure 8 trail route. There was no sense doing the other half and risk batteries burning out. Plus I had a bad experience on the other half last time we were here (daytime). I went over the bars into a disgustingly swampy bog. It wasn't pretty.
Anyhow - Once back to the truck, we pulled out the lawn chairs and I had a beer under the stars. Perfect end to an awesome mountain bike day.

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