If I keep doing “the longest mountain bike ride of my life”, I’m eventually going to run out of trails. Yesterday’s ride was truley EPIC, at least for me. At 25 miles and over 3000 feet of elevation gain, it definately qualifies as a “long ride” as my friend Jeff put it. Unfortunately for Jeff, he was the only one who knew where I was, so when I was 2 1/2 hours overdue from my projected return time, the staff workign in the ED at the time laid all the responsibility for my whereabouts on him! (Sorry, Jeff).

Check out the map posted below…I’ve posted the full resolution version (you just have to click on it) so you can really appreciate the monster of a ride that it was. I’m not even sure where to start the story!

My original plan was to do this as a shuttle, turning the 25 mile ride into about a 12 mile trail ride. Getting up to the start of the forest service road was a climb of about 1250 feet alone. So there went my legs. On up I went, up the appropriately named “Puker Hill”, to what I recall being the FUN part of the ride, rolling forest service roads with few rocks and lots of ‘whoop-de-doos’. Except I was going to wrong direction. Up I continued until making a sharp left at Pierson Park, down into homestead meadows.

A welcome sign…I’m on the right trail.

The true “Pierson Trail”, however, is a narrow singletrack, with monster switchbacks on the far side of the mountain. A phrase from the guidbook went through my head, ‘even the best of riders have been known to put a foot-or a head- on the ground here.’ Later I realized that I wasn’t even to the trail section that they were talking about.

A brief thought went throug my mind as I teetered down the rocky switchbacks, “Geez, this is really stupid to do this trail by myself,” and not a minute later, I was on the ground, a true launch over the handle bars, including somersault and crash landing. I recall in the moment before impact thinking what the sound of my own bones breaking would be like, and if I had any splinting material I could improvise in my pack. Spitting the dirt out of my teeth, I did a quick body survey. Fortuneately, only my ego and elbows were bruised.

On down into homestead meadows, and the trail finally leveled out into some nice rolling single track sand. I looked forward to finishing the ride on ‘cruise control’ after having fought for all that elevation on the other side of the mountain. Little did I realize that my ride was only about half over.

One of about 8 old Homesteads in this little valley.

As I followed the old, humble signs, simple saying “-Trail->” I continued to lose another 1000 feet of elevation as I (mostly) carried my bike down Lion’s Gulch. Down, down, down I continued, my legs already shot from the climbing.

A cool shot, misleading in it’s humilty.

Finally, I spotted the road through the trees, but the trail was so treacherous, it was still another 30 minutes before I was at the trailhead. Jeff told me to give him a call if I was to trashed to ride the 6.2 miles (per guidebook) back to town. (It’s actually 8 miles). I pulled out my cellphone to discover…NO RECEPTION!

A typically sized obstacle, this is around mile 18…I was truley fed up by rocks at this time.

A pair of 20 somethings in a VW van cruised by, honking, and giving me a peace sign…apparantly in approval of seeing a woman mountain biker at Lion’s Gulch trailhead. The least they could have done was offered me a ride.

Well, I was 2 hours overdue and I was more worried that my friends were worried about me than I was about getting home. I climbed on my bike and hit the road…and climbed…another 1000 feet before I finally reached my well-earned descent that lasted all of about 10 minutes.

THis morning, I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window as I walked to the coffee shop…”Finally,” I thought to myself, “I’m getting bikers legs.” I guess it’s all worth it.

Amazing scenery makes it all worthwhile.

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