MLK Day: Honoring a great humanitarian. Is a ride possible?As I awoke during the pre-dawn hours, many thoughts were running through my mind. Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. April 4, 1968. A great man taken from us way too early. What he could have achieved as an advocate for equal rights for all Americans. Peaceful resistance. Legacy. Do we do enough to honor him? We certainly need to do more to truly accomplish equal rights.
For many Americans, this also means a day off from work. I am part of that group. I must admit, somewhat selfishly, that I hoped for little to no rain as I was planning a ride, weather dependent, of course.
Once the sun began to rise, I very quickly and joyfully realized it was going to be a glorious January day, probably the only one we would have this week. How perfect for it to fall on a free day, a day in which our country honors a hero!
What goes up...Pulling into the parking area at one of the Cold Creek trailheads at about 8:45 AM, the question on my mind was "where is everyone?" Not that there were any plans to meet some of my riding buddies. No, I was going to do this one alone. Well, actually, Wyatt and I would be making this run. How others would let such a beautiful morning go to waste and not be out here somewhere on this trail, I could not fathom. I was at the same time grateful to have the whole place to myself.
For me, the trick to making this ascent is to not think about the roughly 2200 feet of vertical from the trailhead to the summit of Larch Mountain, in about five miles. That thought is just too daunting. Knowing that I can make it a section, a switchback (there are plenty of these), a rocky portion at a time is the only way I can get out of the car and unload my gear. Wyatt is oblivious and just wants to go. He doesn't seem to be worried about the climb.
It was quite evident that my conditioning and skills are better each time I ride this trail. There were steep and technical portions that I cleaned this time. I still had many hike-a-bike moments, but certainly fewer. I shouted for joy inside a couple times.
...must come down. The race is on!
After a snack, a couple of pictures, text messages sent home, and a short walkabout at the Larch summit, Wyatt and I turned to make the brake melting descent. It seems the final 1000 feet of elevation are in the last mile of this climb and starting down what is mostly baby head sized scree on such a steep descent is unnerving for this newer but seasoned rider. I have other offroad vehicle experience in the forms of snowmobiles and motorcycles but this past summer was my introduction to serious mountain biking. I know I must not over think it; just stay loose, keep my rear end behind the saddle, and let the bike roll over and through. I see and feel the suspension working but getting a workout. It's happening. I haven't gone over the grips yet. The auditory sensations are the thud of my tires, the jingle of Wyatt's tags, and my heart pounding up in my throat.
Eventually, the intense rocky section gives way to some amazingly fast and flowy downhill. Root and stump drops provide the air fix. I am impressed with how this four inch XC bike handles what is really an all mountain trail. It is taking good care of me. Can't get too comfortable, though. There are too many switchbacks that snap you to attention, real fast! On the brakes hard, rail the berm, watch Wyatt pass me on the inside, and shoot off down the next stretch. This is so insane, such a rush that I'd swear it isn't legal. I hear Cold Creek in my right ear and have the sensation that we are running neck and neck. There is not much that can be better than this.