When it’s August and the humidity is low with the temps sitting in the low-to-mid 70s, and the sun is dropping golden treasures upon you as you point your squishy bike down the trail, passing over rocks that will slice your knobbies in an instant as you maneuver through the sometimes sandy washout descent, white-knuckled and with drips of adrenaline stinging your bloodflow, you find life in those multitudes of seconds on end where the split second presence to smile and say to the inner self, “I hope I fueled up enough to keep pedaling for the next 2 hours” puts you on the edge where confidence and risk meet up: flow.
That may not seem like such a task, two hours of pedaling, but when Mee-SHOW is where you are, you need be prepared. Call me biased, after all they are my “home” trails, but if mountain biking is to be about riding a bike in the mountains, and if the perception of such is that it should be difficult and a little on the stupid side of “why would you do that?”…well, Michaux might be where stupid mountain bikers go to ride difficult trails in mountains.
Stupid in love.
I dabbed out in one continuous motion and made it up the switchback that I had always previously hike-a-biked. Does Indiana road riding make legs ready for big time gnarled Appalachia ridin’? Or was it about the golden treasures casting upon me and being back “home?”
An almost hour into the ride, and I was cleaning up. “Relax Jim. You got some rock gardens that aren’t groomed rosies coming up.”
At the trail intersection, I stopped to take a photo. Unbeknownst to me, 16 years of riding there, and I had no pics. Now I do:
Sure enough, the garden-grown rocks knocked me off kilter in the first crux. Though the trail isn’t what it was 10-15 years ago as a result of increased traffic and the races, if you follow the original line, it’s a muscle-your-way-and-close-your-eyes line as you huck your way over a bash guard pounding rock and up between two trees in one fluid motion.
Not this time. Smiley faced, “I love Michaux!”
I rolled on. Eventually, on the back side where it drops to the reservoir, I came to the always ego-killing rocks. Am I using the word “rocks” too much?
I licked my wounds, yet another time, and dropped out to the reservoir. I was greeted by a wonderful kiss:
Despite the dualie cush, my arms were worked over, and nothing could be better after leaving the ridge and arriving to the water, than knowing that the trail that wraps most of the way around it is like red velvet cake that in spots smells like sunbaked pines:
Around I went, saying HI to some kayakers along the way, and a “Buenas” to a Latino fisher family, reveling in the sweetness of flow, but not of the confidence meets risk kind.
Flow of bike and body as one meets trail, and oneness is found.
I made way to the forest road and climbed my way up to one of my favorite little quick downhills. Fast. Lean into the turns.
Not too long after, I was back at my car. I gathered some clean clothes and walked over to the stream.
Thirty minutes later, we met up at the campsite.
La Taqueria Rattlesnake Ridge was open, and we were the only ones at the table.
Fire. Tacos al Pastor. Libations. Friends.
And a chupacabra in the middle of the night…
…and Grave Ridge one last time tomorrow…