Stubborn or Stupid

Coming off a good solid road ride in Chico last weekend, I felt I deserved a good week of mountain biking fun.

Tuesday it was up into the Ashland Watershed for a 30+ mile loop with Eric.  The almost hot weather in the Valley meant warm and comfortable temps for most of the ride.  Leaving Lithia Park, we took a right at the “Hippy Swimming Hole” (sorry, that’s what a guy at work calls it) and headed up Horn Creek Rd.

After a good warm up over several miles of climbing we settled in for a long gentle descent.  I really enjoy the ride from Horn Gap to Four Corners as it is mostly just a slight downhill and if you pedal hard you end up with a really fun workout.

From Four Corners it was the usual suspect trails back down to Lithia Park.  It was a great time with some quality conversation.

Wednesday, it was right back on the Toa for more singletrack action.  Meeting up with Shawn, we blasted around the Britt trails before heading up John’s Peak for some more serious work.  Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I realized my knees weren’t having a good time.  It must have been all the climbing from the day before.  Pushing on, we climbed up to the left of JP to try out a newer trail named Claim Jumper.

Overall, it was a fun trail.  However, a lot of the new trails on John’s Peak are being built with so many tight switchbacks, you nearly have to bounce on one tire to make it around them all.  I try and ride everything though so it was inevitable I would get to a switchback, not be able to make it, and come off the bike.  Ugh.

My knee pain was becoming more than a nuisance.  I just smacked my leg on the handlebars and received a fun, new pain JUST ABOVE my left knee.  And, that’s when I found two ticks climbing on me.  I figured it was time to call it a day.

After Wednesday night’s drama, a knot just above my left knee and both knees feeling like they could use a rest, Thursday I abandoned the mtb for the road bike.  Alan and I did a quick 30 mile ride with minimal climbing and then headed out to the race track to watch the second round of the Champion Thursday Night races.

Saturday’s plan was mildly ambitious.  Shawn and I drove out to Applegate Lake and parked near the Seattle Bar Day Use Area.  The idea was we would ride a lap around the lake before dropping into California to ride Cook and Green Trail.

Well, Applegate started out fast and we both set PR’s on the West Side segments before deciding we should take it easy so we had something left for the second half of the day.

At one point I took a bad line on the trail and Shawn made a comment about it.  I told him my lines were determined by the poison oak I was trying to avoid.  It is EVERYWHERE around Applegate right now.  Despite my best efforts of avoidance and a scrubilicious shower with Tecnu, I am fighting the urge to scratch spots on my arms and legs as I write this.  I’m hoping it’s psychological.  I don’t think it is.

Anyway, we felt pretty good after our 17 mile trip around the lake and after refueling, we rode South and crossed the border just a few minutes from our parking spot.

The climb up to Cook and Green Pass is not for the faint of heart as itt’s a steep 2600′ climb up from the Applegate River.  I don’t know how accurate my Garmin is, but one of the times I bowed my head to pray that my legs wouldn’t fall off, I saw the grade reading as 29%!!

For much of the climb we were exposed to the sun so we welcomed a short break and a quick drench in a small waterfall along the road.

Luckily the climb is worth it.  The ascent finally ends where the road crosses the Pacific Crest Trail.  Cook and Green Trail also starts at that point and we wasted little time hitting the narrow single track.

What goes up, must come down and we were ready for the 7 mile descent through the forest.  The trail was in good shape with the exception of a couple downed trees and a couple stream crossings that were just slightly too deep to cross while riding.  Other than that it was a blast!

Oh.  Not the part where I crashed again.  Geez.  I really need to get better on the mtb.  This time I tried to avoid some mud and came to a dead stop when I hit a hidden tree root.  Needless to say I was over the handlebars once again.  This time I smacked my right calf on a log.  I’m still limping.  What a loser!!!  So frustrated.  Moving on.

Despite that, it really was a good day. 

Sunday rolled around and I wasn’t even sure I could pedal as I couldn’t walk without keeping my right leg straight.  But I was gonna find out.  Turns out I can pedal.  The REAL problem is, my knees are still hurting pretty bad from earlier in the week (they hurt all day Saturday as well) and I could barely get stand up on the pedals when I needed to.  I only did a 30 mile ride around the Valley and avoided all the hills I could.

Recently, a friend of mine, Becky, said, “There is a fine line between stubborn and stupid.”  With the Davis Double and the second part of this season’s main goal only two weeks away and my body feeling like I was riding bitch with Evel Knievel at Caesar’s Palace, stubborn and stupid may be the  only two attributes I have going for me right now.

Aaron

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