A mountain biking addict reflects on the hazards of being a hero
By Sarah Hansing
Well, this time it was my fault.
And by my fault, I mean it all started out with me playing the part of the hero: Thanks to a phone call to the super accommodating (and always rad) Shuttle Smith Adventures, my two friends from out of town and I were dropped off by the one and only Dave Smith. The drop point is as close as you can get to the top of the Soquel Demonstration State Forest (SDSF, colloquially known as Demo) before the uphill pedaling begins. Well, it’s the closest you can get without battering down gates into the park, anyways. (Which I suspect would be very much frowned upon).
Show my friends the once whispered about and now shouted about, soon- to-be-famous, destination location Demo Flow Trail. Because what better way to show off to your friends than the Flow Trail, right?
Well. Sort of right.
Look, I’ll be honest. I work at the Epicenter shop on Mission Street, so I know the West Side trails like it’s my business. In Demo, however, I only really know (and by know, I actually mean recognize) the trails my ex-boyfriend used to take me on; I never really paid attention, because I didn’t have to.
Lesson 1: Pay Attention.
So, I did manage to guide us to the Flow Trail and all of its glory: amazing turns, swoopy fast curves and delicious berms. I totally got hero points for that. But then … then we had reached the end. The end of the Flow, and the end of my Know, so to speak.
Back in the day, the (*ahem*) affectionately called “Sadist” and I pretty much always rode up from the lower parking lot (and climbed until I wanted to die) in order to reach the trail head. Then we would drop down into the trails, do some loops and laps, and then GENTLY climb back out on the fire road to where we were parked. As such, I was only familiar with riding into and out of that particular parking lot.
The route we had committed to in no way had anything to do with that parking lot. So. It was time to figure out how to get home
Lesson 2: Be Prepared.
I was not prepared. I am, however, good at keeping a straight face when people who think I know what I am doing are staring at me, so that was a start. The ‘ol “follow me! I know the way!” thing was in full effect.
(I didn’t really know the way.)
Lesson 3: Pretend that everything is ok, even when everything is NOT ok.
So, I pretended everything was ok, as I began to take us up a death march to the only place I knew would lead to home. I very much needed to get us back up to the top of Ridge Trail. Then I could get us to the fire road leading back to Epicenter Aptos, and sweet, sweet … survival?
Yes. Survival. And beer. (Synonymous, really, isn’t it?)
At any rate.
Lesson 4: Your real friends will still be your friends even when you accidentally take them on an uphill death march in the woods.
Yep. We made it back the only way I knew how, and we were all still talking to each other when the ride was over with. We were tired. We were scathed but triumphant. We were super stoked on the Flow Trail. And we were all fairly certain that I should probably not be in charge of leading the ride the next time.
Lesson 5: No matter what, riding bikes is awesome. Sometimes the most awesome after the ride is over.
Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singletrack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)