Friday, September 26, 2008

My nemesis: Gaines Ranch

Seth and I got in a 2 hour ride last night after Seth got off work. We started on the Gaines Ranch trail which is my nemesis. It's my nemesis because it has a couple of really long descending technical sections. It's not an easy trail but we must take it to get to the other trails from our place. From start to finish, it has pretty hairy rock gardens, some even stretch about 100 feet (or maybe less but it sure seems to last forever). They're mainly what I call washed out creeks where it is nothing but a sea of fist sized rocks the perfect size for wedging your tire and causing you to fly over the handlebars - the dreaded endover or endos for short. The most confident riders and those with full suspension bikes love these sections because they can blast down them. For those of us on hardtails, and who, like me, are trying to hone their handling skills and gain confidence after being off the bike for so long, it's a nightmare. I'm hoping that I will come back to this post a few weeks from now and laugh. Laugh because the trail has all of sudden become a piece of cake for me. But for now, it sucks.

Anyway, by the time we got to the river, I was gaining momentum and ready to explore new trails. We decided to head toward the Hill of Life and ride along the riverbed. This trail is a lot of fun - wider singletrack and manageable technical sections. We made it all the way down to the HOL but decided not to do it because my legs were shot and the sun was beginning to set. Instead, we ventured down another sidetrail that turned out to be sweet singletrack, superfast and twisty. It was superfun. We then turned back and hightailed it back home where I got passed by a three riders who all but jumped the gardens. Even though I didn't clear the sections in one jump, I didn't have any touchdowns.

Now back to the dreaded GR rocky climbs which I hoped to conquer without a touchdown or worse, walking. I didn't do so well. I encountered a hiker on the long climb and rolled to a stop which proved to be disastrous because I couldn't get rolling again. It's one of those climbs that you cannot stop on because you can't get going again. Or at least, I can't. My legs were so tired. I certainly tried but inevitably my front tire just couldn't roll over the rocks and my back tire spun out. I had to get off and walk the bike which sucks because I conquered that climb the last time we were out.

The bright side is it that I spun up the second climb and overall had a really good ride. I didn't crash and I only had a few touchdowns. I must be getting better.

Seth on the other hand is a total rockstar on the bike these days. He descends well, climbs well and he brilliantly maneuvers over rock gardens and rooty sections. I'm so proud. I can still recall the first time I took him on a mountain bike trail and how nervous he was. I kind of left him alone and blasted down the trail so that he didn't feel the pressure of having me nearby to watch him. Over the years, he has gotten better and better and now he's better than me!

We were rewarded by a tasty treat at home - homemade crab salad and spaghetti with turkey meatballs which I had prepared earlier. Lately I have been jonesing for a lobster roll but of course, we can't afford lobster nor is there any "fresh" lobster here. So, I created my own recipe using imitation crab instead. For those of you who have never had imitation crab, it's actually made from a white fish and is found in the refrigerated section at the supermarket. Usually costs $2-4. Here's the recipe.

JEN'S CRAB DELIGHT (serves 3-4)
1 package of imitation crabmeat (chop into bite sized pieces)
The Juice of 1 whole lemon (remove the seeds!)
4-5 Sprigs of Fresh Cilantro (finely chopped, season to taste)
1/2 cup of mayo
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix it all together and refrigerate. Serve with crackers, on a bed of greens, or make a sandwich - lobster roll style! You can also substitute plain yogurt for mayo, lime instead of lemon, and mint instead of cilantro.