Some say three times the charm to suggest that the third time you try something you'll "get it" and everything will be much smoother. In general I can say that held true for me on the mountain yesterday though I'm not sure I would use smooth as the correct adjective to describe my evening of mountain biking. Just like last week there were four of us hitting the trails; Ed, Sean, Mike, and myself. Somehow, even though I left the office last, I was actually the first one at the park. I unloaded my bike (which had some service done on it at the local bike shop over the week) and stretched out my stiff legs (I had played about 3 hours of Ultimate Frisbee on Wednesday night) and then waited on the others. Ed showed up shortly there after but Sean and Mike were both delayed so we got off to a bit of a late start.
This week we decided to do a totally different line through the parks trails. We would circle around the lake then come up through some big field before ascending the mountain via a rough track. Once at the top we descended a gravel/paved road (it alternated surface types) before crossing the main road onto the first trail I rode in week 1. It sounded like a great plan because the lake trail is pretty easy and would give us all a great way to warm up before we had to climb the mountain and then face the descent. We headed down a dried riverbed to the lake trail and, before we even hit the trail I made a mistake. The dried river was fairly gouged. While trying to cross a large crevice I hopped my front tire nicely over it but my back tire hit really hard. My tire pressure was a little low and just like that I had gotten a "pinch flat" - of course I didn't notice it until i had made it down the lake trail a bit and by that time Ed was well ahead of me. Sean and Mike were actually behind me so they said they would go get Ed. They took off and I started walking my bike. Shortly thereafter a nice older guy (in his 50's) came down the trail in the opposite direction on his bike. I asked him if he had a pump and not only did he but he had a tool to take my tire apart with and a patch kit containing a "super patch" which is a self-adhesive rubber patch. By the time the other guys got back to me my bike was repaired. I don't know who the guy was but it was very, very cool of him to stop and help me and I really appreciated it. He wasn't sure I should try to ride on the super patch for long but we decided to risk it anyway and it held up marvelously throughout the ride.
The ride down the lake trail was a blast. Overall it is pretty flat with just some little whoopsie-do type risers; nothing to fancy. The trail gets narrow at times and there were plenty of little slalom type areas where you had to turn quickly between trees and rocks. On one of those there were three trees then a large rock so you had to go left, right, left, right really fast. I went left, right, left but couldn't make the right. Fortunately I wasn't moving very fast. A better cyclist probably could have popped their wheel up and rode over the large rock. I, on the other hand, came to an abrupt stop and went slowly over my handle bars. I was going slowly enough where it didn't hurt at all and my bike didn't suffer any damage either. I hopped back up and resumed my trek through the woods; at this point I was third in line behind Ed and Sean. At one point the lake trail actually encounters a desolate construction area where the park board is working in some new facilities. The ground was very uneven and generally uncomfortable to ride on. At one point my left peddle hit a upthrust stump that caused the tail end of my bike to kick to the right and the pointy part of the seat to get far too friendly with my booty. Fortunately I was able to keep my balance and carry on with nothing worse than a sense of violation.
By the end of the lake trail I was pretty tired - we had ridden pretty hard and fast I thought and we took very few breaks. However we had a nice casual ride across the field immediately after so we were all refreshed before having to climb the mountain. The mountain climb was a bitch. Mostly because I'm just not in that good of cardiovascular shape yet. My legs were actually doing pretty good but once I lost my momentum it was really hard to get rolling again so I had to walk up big chunks of the hill. By the time we all reached the top we were pretty winded and in need of a good rest. While we were up there Ed told us about a guy called The Fat Biker who loves climbing hills becuase he can climb hills nobody else manages to complete in one go and he rolls past them all; he views it as his own super power. After climbing the hill I and failing to do it in one sweep I kind of view it as his super power too.
The ride down to the next trail was cool and relaxing. We passed a couple beautiful overlooks so sometime I'll have to take a camera out there with me so I can share them with everyone who reads my tales.
The next leg was the downhill forest trail I had done in week 1 and I did phenomenally better than I did last week. It was really pretty amazing. I was hopping over trees and rocks and all sorts of other debris like I actually knew what I was doing. I was amazed. I was keeping up with the rest of the group (though I chose to go last in line down the hill so I wouldn't be a danger to anyone else). Being in last but keeping up actually caused me some new problems becuase some of the obstacles required some momentum to complete but if one of the guys in front of me had a problem I had to stop while they cleared. At one point my lack of momentum had me walking my bike through an obstacle and then I had to let some other trail rider go by. After that I tried to get my balance and get going again but I had trouble making a turn, my handle bar hit a tree, and back over my handle bars I went. Again, I was going really slow so it didn't hurt at all but it was frustrating because everything had been going really well.
I got my groove going again and caught up with the group before too long and we kept on cruising. Eventually we were almost done and Ed asked if we wanted to finish on the long, medium, or short trail. I called for medium becuase my arms were really tired. It turns out medium is also really, really steep. We hit that part of the trail and I discovered new levels of speed through the woods. I gripped my back break as hard as I could but the tire spun unimpeded and my speed kept picking up. I pulsed my front break and it had no effect. I started bouncing, and before I knew it my weight was too far forward on the bike and BAM I flew over my handle bars. This time I was going fast. I ducked my head and landed hard on the back of my left shoulder, rolled across my back, saw my bike fly over my body, slammed my right hip and knee into the earth and then popped up onto my feet. My bike was about 20 feet further down the hill. I walked down and got it, hopped on to finish the trek, and my shoulder shot with pain when I pulled up on the handle bars a little. Fortunately the parking lot was only a few hundred feet away by this point so I was able to casually ride with just my right arm holding the bars.
Ed helped me out and put my bike in the back of the car and then I drove home. My shoulder was still sending some sharp pains through me off and on as I drove and my finger tips were occasionally sparked with a shooting pain. Once I got home I saw the lawn was well past need of being mowed so I hauled out the mower and mowed the lawn. Suprisingly my shoulder didn't bother me at all while I did that though most of the time I tried to take it easy on my left arm. Once I got in the house I iced it up and told Lisa about the events. She gave me a pain killer and a medicated patch to put on my shoulder and my right hip (which, by this point, hurt quite a bit). I was not looking forward to going to sleep where I couldn't sleep on either my stomach (my back always hurts if I sleep on my stomach on our current mattress), my left side (painful shoulder), or my right side (painful hip). Thankfully, while I was trying to sleep the pain killer kicked in and I was able to sleep pretty well.
This morning I took a hot shower and, honestly, my shoulder feels pretty good. The spot that bore the brunt of the impact is very sensitive but it doesn't hurt to move my arm around at all and I seem to have full range of motion. My fingers haven't had any sharp pains today at all. My hip still hurts quite a bit so I imagine I bruised it pretty badly but overall I think it is OK too; I'm a little battered but no worse for the wear.
I may end up taking off next week if my shoulder doesn't feel better by then. However, I definitely will go back out. It was a lot of fun and I have progressed a lot in a small amount of time; plus now I know to put my weight way to the back of the bike (well behind my seat) while going down a steep hill! Ed offered that advice after my crash. Before I go back out though I need to get a small kit of bike maintenance supplies such as patches, a pump, a spare tube, and some allen wrenches. I really look forward to getting back out there and continuing to improve. Overall it is a lot of fun and some great exercise; I just need to stay on the damn bike!