Single track mind

Too much protein, too much carbohydrate, too much fat, and waaaaaay too much booze in the last few days, so I was glad to get out on the MUni to burn off a few of the extra 6 pounds I’ve put on. (Not that I’m counting, of course.)

I park at the end of the lane that leads into the forest. There are several vehicles there, and a few bicyclists preparing for a ride. I pump up the tyre, freemount and ride past the cyclists, nodding politely but not wanting to be drawn into conversation - I have calories to burn!

The gate to the forest track is closed, and fences and barriers have been erected on all sides to prevent cyclists bypassing it. I slow down to survey my choice of routes. A moment’s loss of concentration and SPLAT! I faceplant only 20 metres from the car, in full view of the bicyclists.

Blushing burns more calories than swimming, jogging, or going up quite steep stairs.

Once I’m past the gate, there’s a long gradual climb up a forest track which gives me chance to get used to the MUni again - I haven’t ridden it for weeks. I’m soon confident enough to divert onto a side track where I have to pick my route between puddles, ruts, slime and fallen branches. It’s amazing how unfit you get after a few weeks without riding. My heart is pounding like a thing that pounds lots and lots - for example the drummer in late 70s popular beat combo, Adam and the Ants, who famously had two bass drums.

Which leads me neatly on to the next bit which is a steep slimy singletrack, where I have to Stand and Deliver to get to the top. I’m really chuffed to make it up the hill because (a) it is somehwere near the limit of my pre-layoff ability, and (b) I have just seen a bicyclist on a
super dooper zillion speed front and rear suspension disc braked mountain bike take the easy route, then look back over his shoulder to see me take the difficult route.

Soon I am on the famous Desert - a vast area of sand, gravel and mud on quarry land. It is illegal to go on this area, which means that all of the moto-cross bikes, jeeps, quads, trikes and so on that are there every weekend really shouldn’t be. Every time something big is kicking off down the road (e.g. a murder) the police are busy on the desert arresting or impounding virtually everything except the sand, gravel and mud. But not today, because, full of Christmas goodwill, our boys in blue are no doubt sipping capuccino down at the nick.

I do some good climbs and a short but scary descent on the desert, and surprise myself with how well I ride across the sand. The sand is wet enough to bind together, but not soggy enough to be slippery, so I do better than ever before. It’s hard work, though, so it is soon time to move on into the forest, where I follow single tracks of slimy leaves and muddy ruts, falling off periodically, and getting my pulse rate up to about 400.

I manage another quite hairy descent (descents are not my big thing, what with me living on a flood plain) and I amaze myself with a couple of long climbs. On one, I am slip sliding up the hill, hauling on the handle, grunting with each pedal stroke. As it gets harder and harder, I start muttering under my breath, and this gets louder and louder until the final part of the climb sounds something like this: “Ah, ah, ah, yes, yes, yes, yes! YES! YES! YEEEES!”

I reach the top to find a small group of mountain bikers, all with startled expressions.

I find the Surprise Cafe, but it is packed. Unwilling to queue for a coffee, only to share a table with a common person, I go back out to the uni, only to find that a ‘wintry shower’ has started. I have about a mile and a half to go to the car, and it is mainly hard surfaced forest road, so I get my head down and go for it.

On the way, I overtake a family on foot. After the usual comments, one of them bellows to “Tommy!” who is far ahead on his mountain bike. Tommy doesn’t look back. Then father says to mother, “Oh well, he’ll see him when he catches him up.” A compliment of sorts.

A better compliment is that I DO catch Tommy up - because I am steaming up the hill that had stopped him. There is Tommy, about 12 years old, on a mountain bike with more gears and technology than all my last four motorbikes put together, stopped for a rest on a shallow hill while I sail past on my unicycle with a merry grin.

Back at the car, a small group of mountain bikers are unsuccessfully experimenting with wheelies. They studiously avoid eye contact. As I pack the uni in the back of the car I hear one of them say they should do ‘about 8 miles’ and the other replies, “I don’t think I can go that far.” I look at my computer: 8.33 miles. That’s a short ride, but I’ve done some harder riding than ever before.

Back home: I’ve lost about a pound in weight. :0\

haha good story. it’s always fun sticking it to the bikers.

Your a great story writer. That sounds like a rally nice ride. I’ve never really been able to race any bikers, but I’d like to try a steep uphill sometime. There’s a couple of really steep hills I’ve tried to ride with my uni and my bike. I think that if I’d start a race right below one of the hills and neither of us had a chance to pick up speed I’d win. I’ve once raced a runner, but I was extremely tired after that.

I have to say that all of the bicyclists whom I showed up were pretty poor riders. I would have had no problem riding up all of those hills on 2 wheels.

But it is nice to get respect from bicyclists, and it’s fun to make something look easy when they’re finding it difficult.:slight_smile:

Never say that the bicyclists you pass are poor riders. We don’t want to know that. If I discussed the specifics of the bicyclists I’ve passed you’d realize that the ones that weren’t already dead had one foot in the grave. That doesn’t help my story.

You write fantastic prose, Mike. And you seem to be getting better. You probably lost a pound of adjectives in this piece alone. I wouldn’t worry so much about gaining weight. Thanks for continuing the story telling.

I don’t usually start my own threads, and am bad at writing about my rides. But I had one similar to Mikefule’s yesterday, so here goes.

I haven’t done any MUni riding since MUni weekend, which means more than a 2 month gap. Since then, I’ve gone on about two long Coker rides, with my wife and her sister on their bikes. That’s about it. Very sad. Combine that with all the junk food flying around my office, home, and everyplace I’ve visited, I’ve put on an uncounted number of pounds (I’m actually not counting, because I don’t want to know!). I judge it by the way my clothes fit…

So the weather was good and I had time to get away, finally! Sunday I headed out to the Salmon Falls trail, outside of Folsom. It was cold (for here). I actually started the ride with sweat pants and a jacket. 45 degrees or so. I rode through puddles with a film of ice on them on the way to the trailhead.

As I entered this popular mountain bike trail, which I haven’t been on in over 6 months, I got some great comments right off the bat. Two guys on bikes, close together:

  1. “You can’t be serious.” to which I replied “How serious could I be?” (he doesn’t need to know the whole story)
  2. “Now THAT is f**king impressive!” Ahh, words of encouragement!

At the beginning of the trail, you can take the high road, with a long rocky climb, or the low road, with less climb but a nasty rocky section I’ve never succesfully ridden over. The high road was added because of this little section, which gives you a bunch of angled rocks and a steep drop down toward the tip of Folsom Lake. I opted to attempt, yet again, the rocky bit.

20 minutes later, I’m no longer cold, my jacket, Camelbak, and butt-bag are laying on the side of the trail, and the bikers are watching me from the parking area below, across the water. I’m taking longer and longer breaks between my attempts, and starting to understand the riders who say the KH seat handle is too thin. But the stuff I’m trying to ride up would barely have even slowed down the fast bunch of riders we had at MUni Weekend. I don’t know if Ryan Atkins would even have noticed the section. So I wasn’t going to quit, even though I hadn’t attempted any of this type of stuff in a long time.

Finally, after many attempts, I made it! Woohoo! Nothing like conquering a section of trail you’ve never conquered before. I was empowered, but pooped. I vowed to back up and re-ride any section that caused me to dismount.

And I did. The main other hard section is a water crossing, which is followed by some uphill with rock notches and muddy roots you have to cross with a wet tire. But I did.

The Sacramento area trails are a lot more comfortable to ride during the winter months. In the summer, which has basically no rain, they’re rock hard. But we’ve had plenty of recent rain, and where the path wasn’t muddy, it was still noticeably softer.

I continued about 3-4 miles in, and stopped at a popular turn-around spot, at the top of a hill with a view. A group of about 8 mountain bikers also stopped there, and talked about what route they would take. They treated me like just another trail user. Several minutes later, a father an son came out. It seems they had been behind me almost since the beginning of the trail, and had not caught up to me! They must have stopped a lot.

The father asked me if I knew Ted Howe, one of our local riders. I asked him to say hi for me. Then I gave Jacquie a call, noticing the strong cell signal in that area. Very nice! The canyon trails probably aren’t as cell-friendly.

Then I headed back, even though I knew I could have gone farther, and had very few dismounts along the way. I finished up by successfully riding down the scary rocky section, after a few tries. I took an easy line, but the more scary lines will still be there the next time. Watchers on the rocks far down below shouted “You’re crazy!” to which I replied “Whooo!” when I successfully cleared the rocks.

Now that was a nice ride. I know I sweated off some weight, but our house is still filled with cookies, chocolate, leftover pies, etc…

Great stories, keep on writting. --chirokid–

On a much less impressive note, I just broke my distance record (set yesterday) of 450 meters with a 1 km ride around the parking lot. I also managed to ride down and up a shallow grade (3-4%) without any problems, 100 meters of uneven brick sidewalk, and did a 1" drop without crashing. (Seriously, it’s the best I can do so far…)

Not bad for someone rated as having “limited unicycling talent” by Klaas Bil’s ‘Unicycling Talent-O-Meter’


Great story, John, thanks. Well written ride stories are always fun to read. You, Steve Howard, Nathan Hoover, and John Childs have all provided some good ones. But eveyone’s an amateur when compared to Mike.

CyberBellum, you’re making fantastic progress. Don’t short-change yourself. Keep up the good work so we can meet you at a MUni weekend or in Salt Lake City this year.

My end of year feat is that I successfully rode down a flight of 25 concrete stairs that had owned me on my previous attempt. The tide has turned and that flight is now mine. WAY better than making it to step 13 and falling the other 12 like before (thank you, 661).

My ride report included photos. Who needs fancy words and poetic prose to describe a ride when you have photos?

Mike needs to include photos in his next ride report. I can’t quite picture his rides in my mind without photos. :slight_smile:

If this is the flight of stairs I saw you fall down after Step 13, then I’m VERY impressed. That’s one steep, mean staircase…