On Sunday, I woke up at 5:30 am. The morning was dark and the thermostat read 28 degrees. I put my slippers on and told my cats groggily that I’d feed them in a minute. One glance over my shoulder at my sleeping husband, and I walked out of the room to get myself ready.
There was a coating of frost all over everything and I wondered it I was nuts for leaving my warm, cozy bed to do trail maintenance at Ceres Park. There was really no question in my mind though. I had committed to helping out at this local park, so I was going to be there.
I met a group of nine people and we divided up the tools. Our plans to build the bridge that connects the two halves of the park has been delayed. We’ve been told we must find out if a certain endangered species lives near the bridge site. It’s called Swamp Pink and tends to grow in swampy areas that never fully drain. Since this situation has to be figured out before the bridge can be erected, the group focused its efforts on finishing the new trail we built last session.
There was a great deal of bench cutting to do, as this trail had some descents that hugged the ridgeline. There were also fallen trees to cut out. The group got work quickly. Some of the guys used leaf blower to clear the trails. Others used tools to carve out the earth and make a trail surface that would be safe to walk and ride on. We all knew what to do and how to do it. There were periodic discussions about where to put the drainage nicks and whether a log should be removed or notched for easy riding.
I worked with a McLeod and got to work. It was hard physical labor, but I liked it. There’s something gratifying about an honest day’s work, especially one where you can back up and admire your handiwork when you’re done.
After about 4 hours of trail maintenance we headed back to the parking lot to eat some Christmas cookies and begin our ride. The group didn’t ride that long. After all the hard work, there just wasn’t much energy left for riding. I didn’t have the luxury of stopping though. Sunday was supposed to be my 2-hour Zone 2 ride, so my plan was to ride with the group for as long as they stayed. Then, I’d go off on my own and finish the ride.
I spent the first hour following the group through the park. I positioned myself in the back of the train because I knew that my pace would be slower than theirs. I did my best to control my heart rate, but it was a little difficult because I’d forgotten my heart rate strap. I knew from experience that every steep hill would make my heart rate spike to about 150-155 bpm, so I would always pedal easy at the top of the hills to give my heart a chance to slow down.
I learned a valuable lesson about balance and concentration that day. When I rode the skinny snake structure in front of people, I got to the 1/4 mark and dropped off. However, when I attempted with no one present, I got all the way to the end. This tells me that my concentration is lacking when there are people around. I don't know if I get distracted or if it's the pressure of watching eyes. Maybe it's because I rode the thing in the day light for the first time in months. Much easier when you can see! Ha ha!
Check in with me tomorrow for a story about what could have been the worst mountain bike crash I've ever had.