Muddied: a comeuppance in the Hood

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As is often the truth, the moment someone gets a bit cocky, a bit over confident, they get slapped back down to earth. And so it was with me this past weekend.

 

Coming off a good late winter/spring mountain biking season, I felt like I was riding well and ready to tackle something hard. I did and in the process I got squashed, flattened and deflated.

 

The site of my humiliation was the Post Canyon trail system just a bit west of Hood River. It’s a popular area especially among those of the “freeride” mountain bike persuasion. That means there are a lot of sketchy downhill sections, big air possibilities and all sorts of constructed stunts (teeter-totters etc)

 

The trail system’s builders have done an excellent job if you like to go big, enjoy wearing all sorts of body armor and have little fear of losing your life in an epic crash.

 

And if you ride Post Canyon, you gotta like skinny singletrack (about 6 inches on average narrower than trails in this neck of the woods) and mud.

 

Mud rules this time of year at Post Canyon and the ooze the day I rode there was super slick. So slick that on one long steep (read scary) downhill, I dismounted only to slide the entire length of the slope like I was skiing it.

 

My partner for the ride was a Hood River local who rode the trail with aplomb while I struggled to get used to the seemingly interminable sharp uphill switchback turns, the sudden sharp bumps, and the roots.  Exposed wet roots proved super slick.

 

We started out our ride with a climb of some 800 feet and then hit a trail that traversed the side of a thickly wooded canyon. I was riding cautiously when suddenly I was off the trail and doing a double cartwheel fall down a steep embankment into a thicket of ferns and bushes.

 

I survived but was shaken and rode the rest of the ride with trepidation to say the least.

 

As we started the long final descent back to the trailhead, a guy wearing a combat-worthy helmet and lots of padded body armor passed me. Seeing him only reinforced the fact that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Post Canyon is a great place to ride if you are not a charter member, as I am, of the WMBA (Wimp Mountain Bike Association). We wimps like our local trails to flow nicely, that don’t change direction every ten feet and are normally free of mud and roots.

 

We also like to come home with a clean bike and not spend an hour cleaning it thoroughly. Also not having to launder your bike clothes after every mud spattered ride is a plus.

 

But all excuses and complaints aside, I was humbled. Thanks to Post Canyon for making me realize that I still got a lot of things to perfect in my mountain bike riding.

 

Postcript: Two days after my disaster in the Hood, I decided to try a local ride in hopes of redeeming some self-esteem.

 

A friend and I rode the lower Mrazek. I came back full of gratitude to COTA and particularly to Phil Meglasson for designing a trail that not only put a grin on my face but made me realize that I can still ride a trail that flows.


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