On Saturday, April 4 2009, I was one 7 riders who left the Pickering Brook general store at 8 am for the ‘Dirty Dell’ 35km mountain bike ride. It was slightly chilly but we soon warmed up as we got riding. After a short section of road (all downhill), my reintroduction to mountain bike riding was a moderately steep, long uphill section with some soft gravel and obligatory rocks. I was pretty winded by the top and wondered what I had gotten myself into. At that point I started to wonder if I would be able to make the distance.
The track settled down a bit after that with a mix of uphill, downhill and flat sections some hard packed, some soft sand and some deep dry gravel. I actually managed the soft gravel ok and the downhills earlier in the day, but struggled up the hills.
By morning tea at ‘the Dell’ I was pretty tired and thought about bailing (I knew the short way home) but felt better after a break and some food. I was particularly boosted when some of the other guys started talking about walking some of the steeper hills on the way back.
I started out the return journey pretty fresh and managed well at first. I started to struggle up the hills again though and had to walk short sections of a couple with another rider. I also got caught out by the deep gravel a couple of times. The tireder I got, the slower I had to go downhill too, because I ran out of energy to control the bike.
On the upside the weather was fantastic! It was sunny but cool. There were long sections of awesome track – flat hard packed or slightly downhill. The single track sections were fun, fast and challenging for me. The other guys chatted while they waited for me to catch up, so didn’t seem too annoyed. In some sections I nearly kept up with some of the other slower riders too.
Unfortunately one of the riders had to pull out at the 5km mark as he was not feeling well. The good news is that he made a speedy recovery and by the time the ride was over had let us know he was ok.
The ride was a really great workout for me as I did struggle up those hills, but I am so glad I didn’t quit. It was great to push on and finish the ride. I had set myself a challenge to complete the ride and guess it would not be much of a challenge if it was easy and would not have been very satisfying to complete. As it was, it was awesome! Sign me up for next year…