Dirty Kanza is looming in just a couple short months. Right now I’m about 100 miles ahead of where I was from January to mid-March last year. That difference is small enough to give me mini-anxiety attacks when I think about it, though the majority of my early 2013 miles were on the trainer and the majority of 2014’s bike time has been outside on gravel, singletrack, or snow. I’m about 10-15 pounds lighter than I was last year, a more confident descender and slightly stronger on uphills. And despite all that I’m beginning to stress out over my lack of long-mileage days.
March is where I start feeling the pressure to be on the bike. March is also when Jacob starts spring soccer. After 15 years of being at every single game possible (I went straight from a soccer game to my college graduation), I’ve turned a little selfish. I’m making one weekend out of 5 for soccer. I can’t decide if that makes me a shitty mom or not; I go back and forth about it, honestly, but there it is. I guess the upshot is that Jacob and I spend the entire summer together and it’s worth it to me to miss a few spring soccer games in order to give myself a better chance at finally finishing DK.
The 22nd was my only Saturday home in this 5-week soccer span, and luckily the date coincided with both soccer and Pinewood Derby districts. Long-time readers may remember my lack of affection for the second round of the Pinewood Derby (and exhibit B), but being as I’m missing so much I was actually glad(ish) to be able to be there this year.
|Playing soccer and racing his Pinewood Derby car|
Jacob’s team lost their game, but he played great. It was really fun to watch him. He plays soccer a couple times a day at school every day, and it shows. And though he finished 40/50 in the Pinewood Derby, he went into it with a much more realistic attitude than last time.
After all the morning fun, I managed to convince the guys to come with me to Little Lost Creek State Forest. Way over in Warrenton, MO, it was kind of a long drive for what was likely to be a relatively short hike, but I’ve been wanting to check it out ever since seeing it on a map after the Lost Creek Road ride. We hiked about six miles on one of the main trails.
|Scenes from the hike|
It was a nice hike on a multi-use (hiking, biking, horseback riding) trail. Very little singletrack, primarily flat doubletrack. The trail followed the top of a ridge and the bottom of a valley, broken up by one good downhill and one good climb. I have designs of using this park as part of an adventure race (or non-race), and while the trail itself wasn’t too exciting, all of the contours on the topo map look promising. Jacob really wanted to explore further, so I promised him we’d come back this summer when we had more time. As it was, we had to speed up a bit to beat sunset.
I followed up Saturday’s family day with a long ride on Sunday. Well, it was supposed to be long. Mickey, Bob, and I met up at the Mound with intentions of riding a trifecta (three area mountain bike trails connected by the Katy Trail, around 50 miles of riding with a big chunk of singletrack in there). Other than the 12 miles at Lake of the Ozarks, this was my first time riding my new bike on trails.
Lost Valley was great. I rode much more cleanly than ever before, clearing sections I’ve always walked. I only fell once, and that was trying to ride a switchback where I always put my foot down. I’m always a little happy when I fall because it means I’m trying something instead of chickening out. This fall didn’t even hurt, except for the fact that I managed to break my brand new water bottle cage. Boo. Luckily, Bob’s multifunctional Awesome Strap came to the rescue!
|Maybe he won’t realize I still have it… 😉|
I still love the way my bike climbs. The gearing must just be made for me. I still have a lot of work to do, both with carrying speed and getting over my fears, but I left the park very
happy. Lots of high fives, as Mickey said.
|Still waiting on spring at this point, but the 28 degree morning felt plenty warm on the trails.|
Dealing with bike issues, Bob peeled off after Lost Valley, and Mickey and I headed down the Katy towards Defiance, MO, and Matson Hill Park. I was dreading the climb up the gravel road to the park, one that’s steep enough to make me nervous when riding up it in Chuck’s Jeep, but it wasn’t that bad. I mean, it was awful, but it wasn’t any worse than the hills we rode a couple weeks ago. More high fives at the top.
Unfortunately, that was the last of my triumphant moments. Any mountain biking mojo I’d had at Lost Valley must have evaporated on my way up to Matson. I had trouble riding things that I’ve ridden in the past, my legs were dead, and I fell pretty hard on some rocks trying to ride through them. The good news is that I fell actually trying to ride something rather than walking it and that I got some pretty sweet bruises out of the deal. My back was pretty sore (not from falling, most likely from my way too heavy pack), my butt is still adjusting to this different saddle, and the fall was the final nail in my intentions to ride all three parks. Mickey rode towards Augusta to bag his trifecta, and I limped back to the parking lot.
I’d expected to regret cutting out early, but my back hurt so much on the way back that I was very happy with my wimpy decision. Shortened ride or not, I still ended up with about 32 miles, I almost looked forward to the downhills…and I made it home early enough to spend some time with my family.