I decided to ride the short/easy course since I really didn't know what to expect on the long/hard course. The short course was 18 miles so I figured even if it was difficult, it wouldn't take me all flippin' day.
After paying my $25 and collecting my first card, I headed down the trail. I started around 9:40 so I was somewhere toward the back of the pack I think. I used some of the lessons learned from my Sparkplug experience so I ended up with a very enjoyable ride! One thing I did was wear my new Alpinestars Tech 3 boots (pictured below) and it was excellent for ankle/shin protection. It also helped keep my feet much drier than wearing the crappy work boots I wore last ride.
The down side was shifting. The boots are so stiff that I might as well have been wearing skiboots. I couldn't flex my ankle much at all so I often had to move my entire leg to shift up. I do believe that over time it will get easier as the boot softens up, until then I'll just have to do the best I can. Maybe I should wear them everywhere to break 'em in? My wife would love that.
After about 5 miles on the trail I came upon a lady riding with one kid on the back of her Suzuki and another kid riding in front of her on a little 80cc bike (possibly even smaller). She was doing great! The trail was easy but I'm not too sure how I would've done with someone on the back of my bike. I was impressed and I thought it was cool that they were out having fun. She let me by as I was a bit faster. I wasn't in a hurry but it was a nice gesture. A mile or less down the trail I was passed by a guy and his wife/girlfriend who were both good riders. Shortly after that the girl crashed on a corner. I stopped in order to not hit her and make sure everyone was ok. While I was pulled over, the mom and her kids came up and just rode on by, which was totally fine. The funny thing was I heard her say to her kids, "see, sometimes slower is faster". I just about crapped my pants. If you read my Sparkplug experience you'll remember that I was using that same theory during much of my ride. It was just really funny to me at the time hearing her tell her kids that.
The rest of the ride included fun trails that were hilly and muddy but nothing too difficult. In fact, I didn't crash once! I'd like to tell you that it's because I've become a much better rider in 2 weeks but the reality is the trail was just much less challenging. I have to say I never encountered a tree root that rivaled the many I ran into during the Sparkplug. I was actually kind of hoping to find ONE so I could stop a take a photo to include here in the blog but I only came upon easy ones. Maybe next time?
I came upon the first checkpoint, which basically is just a place to pick up another card for the poker hand. I selected a KING of Clubs and was thinking a couple things. 1. I've got a good start to a promising poker hand and 2. Why is the first checkpoint nearly 14 miles into an 18 mile course? Don't we have to get 5 cards?
The next checkpoint was just a few minutes away and this is where things started going to hell. I drew a THREE of Diamonds. That definitely didn't help my hand at all.
On the last couple miles of the trail I started to recognize a few things. I realized that I was riding very near where I found the abandoned puppy (Lola). I briefly thought about how little and dirty she was and how difficult is was for her to breathe. I remembered tucking her under my sweatshirt and riding back to the truck. I then thought about how absolutely freakin' crazy she is now, and big. She's a ball of energy and just wants to play constantly until it's time to just drop. It's a bunch of work for us but considering how she's almost fully recovered and she seems very happy, it's worth it.
I pulled into the "Finish line" and realized I only had 3 cards. I thought that maybe I'd missed a checkpoint. Not really sure if I did or not. The dude said to pick 2 cards so I did. I selected a SEVEN of Hearts and a FIVE of Clubs. After starting out so well, my poker hand turned sour. I felt like I was in Vegas.
I decided I'd had enough and decided I wasn't going to wait 3+ hours for the awards ceremony. I loaded up and headed home.
I had a great time and was happy about the entire day. I ate better and brought water. I still didn't use my Camelback but I didn't ride long enough to need it. I've decided that it's mandatory that I lower the bike. I had multiple occasions where I nearly crashed because I had a hard time reaching the ground. That will be my next modification to the WR.
Had fun and didn't get injured... and NO tree roots! Woo Hoo!