A few weeks ago, I got an email from my doppleganger. Rhiannon lives nearby, is about the same age, also has a boyfriend named Peter (who went the same college as my Peter), has piercings, used to have purple hair, and also owns an ’05 XT225. Would I like to go to Metcalf together sometime, she wondered? Oh yes, yes I would.
We met in the park’s registration office yesterday morning (both of us were amusingly fifteen minutes late due to the inability of the XT to make up for lost time on the freeway). We’d assumed that we’d recognize each other immediately, which we did.
After a few minutes of jumping up and down and squealing — much to the amusement of the ranger in the registration office — we got ready to ride. We aired down to about 10psi; I have no idea if that was the correct amount or not, but it’s what the ranger recommended for general use, so, hey, OK. It took us an embarrassingly long time to figure out the air pump (more jumping around and squealing).
Once we’d more or less successfully aired down, we took to the trails. We did trail 2 twice, I think — that’s the one I really hate because of the huge ruts in a downhill section. I didn’t fall, but I went off the trail into the weeds once. Oops. I think I just need to learn the trail better so that I remember where those ruts are and stay to the right in that section.
We did trail 3 a few times, which I liked a lot better than trail 2. Trail 3′s excitement comes from a steep uphill climb right at the beginning and then a few S-curves partway through. I loved the curves — I could get up high on the embankment and sort of scrub off speed via engine braking. One thing Rhiannon taught me was not to use the clutch really at all. “Pull that clutch in and you’ll be freeballing down the hill!” she’d say, and she was right. So, no clutch in the S-curves. Way fun.
The TT track is up at the top of trail 3, right where it connects back with trail 2, so we paused to see how crowded it was.
It amazes me that I can look like an overweight 12-year-old no matter what I wear.
So anyway, we looked at a trail map and decided to take the long loop of trail 3 (from the beginning of 3, you can either connect back to 2 and head back to the parking lot — what we’d been doing — or go out into a much longer section).
I was in the rear, happily toodling along, when suddenly, I rounded a curve and the world fell out from under me. I went to put my foot down and lost my footing…bam! Crash number one.
The worst part was that Rhiannon had already made it down the monster hill, so she started walking back up to meet me (they’re one-way only trails). I got the bike up, got the sidestand down….and it prompty fell over onto the other side. Doh! By now, I’m laughing so hard I can’t do anything useful. Fortunately, another rider came along right about then and helped me get the bike up. We found some level ground (somehow) so I could mount the bike and head down the hill. ZOOOOM! Holy downhill, Batman. Nothing like heading straight down a single-track rocky, dirt path at eight million miles per hour, thinking “nice, I’m going to fall and break my neck on my birthday!”. I did, however, not fall and die, and I parked near Rhiannon to stop and celebrate this fact for a few minutes before carrying on.
We geared back up and continued on. At some point, the trail turned rocky and uphill. I gave ‘er some throttle to get over a rock and – bam! I’m in the air! Holy crap! I think my exact thoughts were “oh shit, now what?” I actually landed pretty well; unfortunately, I also landed with my front wheel on a rock, which turned the wheel and CRASH down I went. Rhiannon heard me fall and yelled back, “You OK?” Laughing again, my response was “Oh, shit, I got HELLA air!” “No way!” There’s something about dirt riding that brings out the Bill and Ted in me.
I got the bike up on my own and rode up to meet her. About five feet later, we head towards another uphill and I get halfway up before wadding it. I must have still been shaky from the previous fall. Sadly, I couldn’t get the bike up this time as it was stuck in the hillside.
A very nice man named John came along and not only helped us get the bike up, but he turned it on and walked it up the rest of the hill (with the bike running and in gear) for me. My tiny little inseam appreciated it! So, hey, thanks, John at Metcalf yesterday.
While resting there, we decided that perhaps we needed some lunch. We decided to stop at the next flat section and figure out how to get back to the parking area.
Between us and the next flat section ended up being a huge uphill rock-strewn path. I DIDN’T FALL! “Damn,” Rhiannon said when we’d parked, “I can’t believe you fell when it was flat and you didn’t fall on that part. Go, go right now, and take a picture of that hill you didn’t fucking fall on.” So I did.
It should surprise no one that we got totally lost in a closed loop trail. I am capable of great things.
Eventually, we made it back to the parking lot and had lunch. Metcalf has a little RV food stand thing (AKA a Roach Coach) which, I must say, makes a good cheeseburger. Yum. We chugged water and Gatorade and did a lot more bouncing and squealing.
After lunch, we decided to head towards the TT track and practice jumping. On the way there, I went ahead of Rhiannon to get some pictures of her ascending the steep hill at the beginning of trail 3.
The TT track was fun. We went around a few times — it’s a pretty small loop — and then went one at a time so that the other could take pictures. I did most of it in 1st gear and then upshifted to 2nd to go over the jumps. Woo! It felt like I was way in the air, but of course I was only a foot or so up. Next time!
After we finished at the TT track, we decided to call it a day. We headed back towards the parking area to air back up for the ride home. It was definitely a great day — lots of laughs, lots of fun, and I even have a couple of bruises! Very exciting. Yup, I’m liking this dual-sport thing.