It's early Friday afternoon and I'm finishing things up at work. Because the morning was so hectic, I didn't have time to eat lunch. But that didn't bother me, because all I wanted to do was take my first ride on my spanking new 98 Raleigh M80. From the conference room window I could see old blue hanging from my trunk rack, just beckoning me to hit the trails. Before leaving the building, I changed into some cut-off jeans, a t-shirt, and put on the old sneaks. Oh crap, I forgot my water bottle. No biggie, I'll just grab a cold soda and head for the trails.
The weather that day was incredible for September - it was close to 90 degrees but the humidity wasn't too bad. I hopped in the car and started off for the trails. I was headed to Camp Mack at Brickerville to try to find some good trails. I was at Camp Mack about 3 years earlier with some friends from college. One guy was a pretty serious rider and he took a group of us to an LBS and we rented like 10 moutain bikes and rode most of the morning at Mack. It was an awesome ride and it rekindled my interest in riding (I rode BMX for years before turning 16). So naturally, not knowing any other trails, I was headed back to Mack for some afternoon exploration.
I get to the main parking lot and get ready for the maiden voyage. Spare tube ... check. Pump ... check. Helmet ... check. Polarized sunglasses ... check. Feeling totally stoked, I'm ready to tear this forest apart. I start up the first hill and hit a T intersection. So I bang the first left. Oops. Dumpster. I turn around, and look the other way ... brush trash pile. OK, so I rode up a dead end to the camp dump. Big deal, nobody saw me and besides, I have these polarized sunglasses on. With pride in tow, I head back down the hill past my car and start up the next hill.
I'm now on my way to a fabulous ride. The heat is only starting to take it's toll as I'm picking my way up this short hill. I'm working on pure adrenaline at this point, so the fact that I have no water doesn't faze me a bit. I think I hit an intersection and kept going up a slight incline along a ridge. I was probably riding about 15 minutes and was ready for my first downhill run ... if only I could find one. It seemed like every intersection I chose kept sending me further up this hill. Finally, I turned onto a trail that showed some promise.
The trail started going over the ridge at a pretty good incline. That's when the trail starting getting really rocky. I started bouncing my way down these rocks with my sweat covered glasses trying to find their way off the tip of my nose. Like a farsighted grandpa looking over his bifocals, I spot a huge rut right down the middle of the trail with rocks flanking either side. In panic, I grab a handleful of brakes and proceed to take my first trip OTB. After the initial shock wore off, I picked myself up and looked around. No damage, I've still got all my gear, and there's still plenty of hill left. OK, let's show this hill who's boss. After flailing about for 2 minutes trying to get into my clips/straps while holding onto a tree, I resume my descent. I might have made it about 25 yards further before my next encounter with some huge rocks and a rut big enough to park a car in. I tried to push my way through this one but no dice. This time I really went OTB and started rolling down the hill. The hill was so steep at that part that the only way I could stop myself from falling was to spread my arms out and lay flat on my back. This time I got up and there was some blood coming from my leg. I'm determined as ever to get down this hill and I would never think of walking it because after all, I'm too new to recognize a trail that is way beyond my abilities. With legs quivering, I mount my aluminum stead for one more shot at downhill glory. This time I would strap into my pedals and make it down to the very bottom of the hill.
The excitement and victory of that last 50 yards wore off quickly as I proceeded to turn off the trail, into some loose stone, and wash the front wheel out. I get up thinking, I couldn't have been thrown down by some lame turn ... there must be another explanation. While getting up, I notice that my front tire is almost completely flat. Apparently, I had pinched the front tire on the downhill and it was losing air. So, I whip out the spare tube, swap em out, and starting pumping that bad boy up. By this time, the adrenaline had wore off and the reality of the heat and exhaustion were starting to set in. When I finally had the tire pumped up, I was soaked in sweat from head to toe and was dying for a drink of water. I decided it was time to turn around and head back towards the car.
I found a trail which looked like it would lead back to the parking lot, but it was an uphill climb through some pretty sandy sections. I make it up the hill about half way and notice some camping sites and ... and ... a water fountain! Oh can it be! I drop the bike and head over to the fountain. I think to myself, oh please let it be cold. I push the button and ... nothing. That baby was dryer than a Swanson sawdust brownie. With fading hope, I look around the camp area and suddenly spot an old rusty spigot on the end of a pipe sticking out of the ground. I walk over and turn it on and out comes some water! It tasted really rusty, but at this point, I'd rather risk dying of tetanus than dehydration. After drinking my fill, I started to feel some chills. I stand up to walk over to a picnic bench and my vision starts to fade. Oh boy, steady now ... get your butt on that bench. Boom, I plop down on a picnic bench before I feel like I'm going to pass out. After recovering for about 20 minutes, I made it the rest of the way up the hill and pretty much coasted back down another hill and found my way back to the car.
While I was completely wasted, I couldn't wait to get back out there again. Next time, I would bring some friggin water, ditch the jean shorts, and lose the Joe Cool sunglasses. I bust a gut every time I think about that ride. I bet I went a total of 5 miles in like 1.5 hours time. LOL!