Bob and I started last weekend in the best of all possible ways: a mountain bike ride.
I picked Bob up and we made our way to a trail I’ve been on only once before: Crop Circles. It’s an interesting trail — it’s as if a group of people got together and said, “OK, we’ve only got a few acres of land here. Let’s do what we can to put as much trail as humanly possible into it.”
The trail starts by spiraling inward (thanks for the link to the satellite photo, NobbyNick), up and down very short hills, over roots and rocks, with constant quick turns and careful navigation around trees. You’re never going fast, but you’re having a great time just maneuvering. Amazingly, the trail was not a boggy mess, in spite of a month of near-continuous rain.
Once you get to the center, the trail doubles back on itself and spirals back out — though you’re riding a parallel trail, not the same one you used to ride in. Ingenious.
Bob and I were having a great time. It felt great to be back on mountain bikes; this was the first MTB ride either of us had been on since Fall Moab.
Flo is Go
This was the also the first time I’d had a chance to ride the Dahon Flo offroad, and so far I’m very impressed. I had hoped it would be a good bike to lug around for when I’m out of town. It turns out that this is a good bike, period. The saddle is far enough back over the rear tire that I was climbing without slipping. The steel frame felt just right — not harsh, not flexy. The components were top-notch: Rock Shox Reba fork, Avid disc brakes (especially nice when it’s wet outside), SRAM shifters.
Before long, I stopped thinking about the fact that the rear triangle can disconnect from the front on this bike. I’m no longer going to think of this as a travel bike. Instead, I’m going to think of it as a great mountain bike that travels.
Blackberries = Evil
As we got toward the center of the Crop Circles trail, Bob and I came across a section where some people had been doing some trail maintenance, cutting back blackberry bushes. Part of me was grateful to whoever had done this, because blackberry bushes have to be cut back frequently — they’re an incredibly aggressive weed (blackberry bushes are not weeds for only one month per year, when they’re loaded up with delicious free fruit) and would otherwise choke off the trail in short order.
This grateful part of me was overruled, however, by the part of me that noticed that the trail was now littered with blackberry branches, which are thick and thorny.
In hindsight, Bob and I should have got off our bikes and portaged. But we didn’t.
Within a couple hundred yards, Bob got a flat. Within another ten yards, he got another. At about that time, I had a flat, too. Within a couple minutes, my front tire joined the club.
We were done.
I Accept Fate Philosophically
We didn’t have stuff to repair four flats — not on a ride like this. We started walking our bikes back, tempted to call the ride a dud. After all, we had only been riding for half an hour or so. We were just getting started.
Sometimes, though, you take what you can get. This time of year, any mountain biking at all seems like feels like a windfall. And now, at least, we know that the trail’s in good shape, even this time of year. So yeah, we’ll be back, later this week.
And next time, we’ll know to carry our bikes through the bed of blackberry branches.