Sunday, April 8, 2007

Poison Bob, a Wyatt Earp Burger, and some Humble Pie

Today I picked a route that said 'advanced: 4-5 hours'. It was a one way route that required a shuttle to get back to the starting point (which was a short drive from the hotel). I looked at the distances (17 miles of single track and 9 miles of dirt road) and decided to start from my hotel and ride the route 'there' and back. My decision to extend the route was not because I wanted a 10+ hour ride or because I thought my skill level was beyond advanced. I looked at the distances, it just didn't make sense to me that it should take that long. I figured that perhaps the time guideline had been padded to keep city slicker beginners from getting into too much trouble. According to the lady at the hotel, 'there' was a small town called Washington. Perfect, I could grab some lunch and rehydrate before heading back. How hard could it be?

On my road bike, I have my nutrition and hydration down to a science. Absent unexpected wind or technical difficulties, I can tell you (almost to the minute) how long a ride will take. It is going to take me some time to do the same on my mountain bike. My hand drawn mountain bike trail map lacked several important features: scale, any indication of elevation changes, the sneaky little unmarked forks in the path, and the stretch of boulders across which I had to portage my bike.  When I saw the number 17 (refering to the length of single track), I thought to myself 'that's so short'. But then, that was in miles, so I needed to think of it as 27km. Still not too long. The tricky part that I hadn't figured out was how to accomodate for the fact that it's super hilly single track. If I calibrate the difficulty of that relative to the road, with the road being a 1, I'd say I could multiply the distance by between 3 and 4 to get the road equivalent. I'm hoping that, by August, I can reduce that factor to 2ish. I've got some work to do!

The trail itself was great, it just took me substantially longer than anticipated. It extended along one side of a canyon, which meant there were some great views, and also meant that I had a steep cliff on one side of me the whole way. Danger!

After almost five hours, I arrived in the town of Washington (population 150). Washington was (is?) a propecting town. The three buildings 'downtown' appear to be from the 1800s. There was a bar/cafe that seemed to be the place to go. Of course, that might be because it was the only place to go. Today's special was the Wyatt Earp burger. Something told me that's been the daily special for a while (perhaps because it was written on a deshevled, sun faded piece of paper tacked to the wall). My arrival caused quite a stir. The locals seemed eager to chat and I talked to two as I devoured my burger. The first to introduce himself was Poison Bob. He moved to Washington after he returned from service in Vietnam in 1969. I wondered if his nickname had anything to do with the drink in his hand, but I learned that he earned it after being bitten by two scorpions, a black widow, and a rattlesnake in the span of less than a month. He looked much older than his 58 years. The next to tell me his story was John, a local prospector. Last week he rolled his truck in the snow on some 'nearby' back road. His only choice was to walk back to town. He had taken his safety kit out of his truck to make room for some other stuff, so all he had was a blanket and three oranges to help him get home. Unfortunately, it got dark quickly. With no flashlight, he lost his way as he was cutting through the woods. 16 hours and almost 40 miles later, he finally reached a road and hitched a ride home. Doesn't sound like it was too much fun.

I was informed of how to get back to Nevada City a quicker way than how I had come out. It was going to involve an impossible six mile hill - and that was a warning I took seriously since I knew these guys were no wimps. Still, this seemed like an attractive alternative, as I did not have five hours of sunlight remaining and I was totally tuckered out.

In the end, I hammered out seven hours on my new ride and learned that I have a lot to learn before Transrockies.


Blogger Mical Dyck said...

Way to go Tori, that's awesome. I hear there's some good riding down there.

April 8, 2007 at 11:10:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet Poison Bob lived his whole life without being bitten by a bobcat? Amazing! Those things are a menace and I hear they're everywhere out there...

April 11, 2007 at 7:52:00 AM MDT  

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