Friday, June 5, 2009

And Then It Happened Again

Last weekend I decided to ride Poto. I thought it was about time I did, since it's supposed to be "the" mountain bike trail in Michigan and no one seems to take you seriously if you haven't ridden it. Besides, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and to prove to myself I could do it. I sent an e-mail to my teammates, judging that after the Hanson Hills experience it was probably not a good idea to ride by myself on a unfamiliar trail. As it turns out, a few of them were already planning a trip to Poto that day.

Saturday started out okay. I was planning to hang out with my brother, nephew and mom later at my parents' house in Jackson. I went down a bit early and dropped the puppy girls off with my mom, since they have a fenced yard and I wanted them to get some exercise. I had gotten a text from Jake earlier that morning that we were meeting at 8 at Best Buy in Jackson to car pool out to the trail. I was running a bit late, but luckily my mom is the type of person who just swoops in and takes care of everything. I did a hand off at the door and she fed the puppies and got them settled and put away the food I had brought for dinner while I headed over to meet my team.

I was a bit apprehensive before we started, but I was also excited. On the way there, Nichole told me in passing about some steps at the beginning of the trail. I thought I would have to walk up them, but when I got to the first hill, I realized I was supposed to ride over these steps, which were more like landscape timbers. Yikes!

Needless to say, I walked the first hill and many more after it. The hills were big, but that wasn't what made them so hard. Poto was by far the most technical trail I have ever ridden. The number of obstacles in the uphills, combined with the fact that I was crawling up them, meant that invariably I ran into a rock or a big root and had to get off my bike due to a complete loss of momentum. I fell over a lot.

My teammates knew I had never been there and they were great about waiting for me at every intersection. I started to feel guilty about it, though, not wanting them to have to wait for me all the time. When we parted ways, they left me with the instructions to "go left wherever there was an intersection." That seemed easy enough.

Up to this point I was having a good ride. I was walking a lot, but I was still riding quite a bit, too. The trail was hard, but it wasn't impossible. And that was when I made my first mistake.

The trail split in three directions—left, straight and curving off to the right. To the left was a huge drop. It seem like something that should be ridden, but then again, I thought that about a lot of things that other people rode. The middle trail went practically straight up, but other than that, it didn't look like it went much of anywhere. The trail to the right I didn't pay much attention to, of course, because I was supposed to go to the left.

After much standing around waffling, I finally took the trail on the left. I hadn't gone too far before there were other intersections where I was again unsure of what to do. The trail didn't seem much like a mountain bike trail and I started to get worried.

To be continued, since this post is already way too long

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