Blood in the Woods

I’d planned on a long outing on my bike today, but found that Mother’s Day wasn’t working like that, so instead I rode over to the hardest trails in town. I planned to focus on my weakness, which is maintaining speed on technical sections, and definitely got some good practice. I wound up doing ten laps of a short loop that demands a lot from me if I want to go fast (or at least fast-ish)  – a stretch that has one rock garden, some sharp ups and downs, a few hairpin corners, numerous tight passages between trees, and several narrow bench-cut ledges with loose dirt and stones.

Overall I did well, riding more smoothly than I did last year and feeling like I’m on a training path that will pay off with better results at the Cheq 100 in June and the Marji Gesick in September. I did push it a little too far a few times, grazing some trees and even once riding off the trail into the thicket. I scraped up my forearm, but it’s just a flesh wound, a bloody little reminder that if you’re not crashing, you’re not trying. 

Just as I turned for home, I noticed that my bike computer wasn’t on my handlebars anymore. 15 minutes of slow walking around the loop paid off when I spotted the device in the weeds. See the yellow nicks in the tree from my handlebars?


Sweat and blood are familiar aspects of mountain biking to me, the off-season equivalents of ice beards and chapped lips. The oddest part of the ride had come earlier, as I rode into the heart of the trails. Just after one tough switchback, I had to stop sharply because a massive old tree had fallen across the trail.  


I had ridden through this same trail late on Saturday afternoon, so I knew this monster had fallen in the 18 hours since then. I wonder if it made a sound?


I broke off enough smaller branches to allow riders to pass along the trail, but cutting the main trunk back will require a chainsaw. A little human intervention will hasten the tree’s return to the dirt it shadowed for decades.