So in the past few days a few Brian's riding buddies have been kicking around the idea of doing a long bike ride on the Kenai this Saturday. The idea was to ride up the Devil's Pass trail to Ressurection Pass and come down the Summit Creek Trail. It's about 1400 feet of elevation gain and a 23 mile ride. Since I haven't been riding all summer like they have, they tried to warn me that this is an experienced ride and that I should think about that before I come along. This just made me want to do it more.
So we woke up this morning and drove down to the Kenai in the pouring down rain. Aha! The perfect time to test out my playing in the rain is fun theory. We get to the trailhead and it's just drizzling, so we head off on the trail. It started out great, the first 6 or so miles you are gaining elevation, but then it levels off a bit and there is a section of fun rolling hills. I felt great and the hardest climbing was over. The rain was steadily getting more intense, but since it happened gradually it didn't really bother me.
We got close to the top and I realized that it was pouring down rain, blowing wind, and about 45 degrees, and I was soaked. At this time the trail started to get a bit more rocky, which is fine when it's dry, but I was having this problem of my wheel sliding over the rocks and taking the bike out from under me. I fell a bunch of times, but kept going. Then I did this sort of slow motion endo where my bike was vertical for a second and then instead of flipping over, I fell straight down over my handlebars and onto my face. I heard my neck go "crunch!" If you've ever been adjusted by a chiropractor you know the noise I am talking about. I got up and was fine, but I think I actually performed the first self neck alignment whilst mountain biking.
I was freaked out by the slippery rocks and my head was pounding. When I caught up to the guys I told them I thought it would be a good idea for me to start back down. Everyone was pretty cold and miserable, but two of the guys kept going and Brian was going to turn around with me. We kept riding for a bit up to Devil's pass and then turned around to face the wind and stinging rain for the ride back down. This is when I realized that there is a limit to the amount of fun you can have in the rain. After you pass that limit it becomes survival.
The ride down was just a race to get safely back to car. My hands were frozen, so I lost the ability to shift my gears. I literally could not push the shifters. I fell about 7 or 8 times and have to admit, one of those times I actually kicked my bike. Yes, I had a little mini temper tantrum on the trail. I got up and told myself that at 31 years this is not really acceptable behavior. :) I have to admit the ride back down was pretty grueling until we got back under the treeline. We made it back to the car shivering and happy to get some food in us.
Days like these seem to be more and more frequent since I moved to Alaska. Being out in the wilderness in Alaska has the power to break you. But you wake up the next day and you get back out there and you are stronger because of it. I just never thought I could be broken by the rain.. so maybe I spoke too soon.