Met son Chris and his dog Cooper at Levis last Friday to get some riding in before the Cheq 100. Levis is an IMBA rated EPIC Trail. It has just about everything. Like the BALLS ride last weekend, this was going to be a test to see how the broken foot bone would hold up, but under different type of riding, While BALLS was an endurance rail to trail ride that didn't require any power peddling, riding Levis was going to test the foot for power stroking.
Low speed powering up hills, high speed tight downhills, trash on the trail eager to get hung up in, stumps and rocks always ready and willing to hook a toe, foot or pedal. Always present is an occasional unintended dismount while clipped in. Nothing like laying flat on your bike with your feet solidly attached to your steed.
Furthermore, beyond all the "normal" shenanigans that can go on out on the trail, if I screwed up and crashed, it could cause enough damage to start the healing process all over again and maybe bring a few more injuries to the party.
By the time we both got there and fot lights working and saddled up it was somewhere close to 10/11PM. Rode one of the steep sidehill trails up to the top of the mound. At one tight spot I stalled out and couldn't get unclipped. I fell to my left up against the wall of the hill. Keen sandals were now in a bind making twisting them even tougher to get unclipped. My left foot felt ok, but this was exactly what I'd been dreading as I figured this would cause the healing bone to break open. It didn't, it held.
At another spot, due to the slow speeds and poor lighting and general over caution due to the dark and shadows, I screwed up and couldn't get unclipped again.
I had forgotten to rub a little chain lube on them, as they were very dry and this was the first time out with the Gary Fisher HiFi this season, so there may be been some corrosion/rust on them. This is a common sign of worn parts as well, so I should replace my clips as I wore the Keens 100% of the time last year.
So, over I go again but this time I went over on the down hill side. I popped out as I tipped and had time to grab a small 6" tree before I rolled down the hill. With the other hand I grabbed the bike to keep it from tumbling down the hill. Again, the foot held up. All this time Chris was ahead of me just hanging out. He may have seen my headlamp doing strange dances in the night but he never said anything and I didn't tell him all of this as he'd have probably yelled at me for being out there and risking more injury. He never reads my blog so I'm safe here, I think!
Rode out to a couple of the view points....different experience in the dark. After turning off our headlamps the lights from the surrounding farms and distant small towns from our elevation was like being in an airplane. The 1/4 moon was shrouded behind some low clouds so although there was some ambient light there was not enough for any distant pictures, beside, no camera was taken. The stars that were out offered a suggestion of no rain during the night.
We wound around the top of the mound some and headed back down with Cooper in the lead, the light on his collar dancing at varying distances as he ran ahead then came back to see that we were still coming and often to either side of us, sometimes bearing down on us or racing away, as the singletrack twisted and turned it's way back to
Got back to camp and setup the tent, got a fire going and started putting down a few brews. The plan was to grill some burgers from the same 1/4 of a beef I had brought over to Chris late that afternoon and we had grilled at his house before we left The Cities. We both decided we weren't hungry enough for that. So with some chocolate milk as a recovery drink of sorts, some chips and berries, we sat around the fire catching up on things.
As we crawled into the tent, Chris told me it was 3:45 or some such nonsense, but we both figured his watch was wrong....the next thing I remember after getting inside the sleeping bag is Copper stomping me with is paw, then standing on my with his front feet. I tried to get him to settle down and I could see it was getting light out. This is his way of asking to get outside. I figured he was doing the same to Chris and I rolled over.
I fell back asleep and woke up with the heat of the sun coming through the tent. No Cooper pestering me and then I noticed Chris was not in the tent, either.
Chris and Cooper were up and outside the tent. I found my way out of the bag and the tent only to wonder why I shouldn't go back in and sleep some more. But it was around 8AM....time to get back out on the trail as I had plans to leave for home around noon.
Kinda choked down a banana and forced a banana nut muffin down with some chocolate milk.....by the way I felt, this was going to be a tough ride, I thought.
After doing a quick romp through the skills park we headed down the trail. It only took a few hard strokes on the pedals to get the blood exploding in my temples, like inmates hammering on steel bars trying to escape a prison, to know how bad the hangover was and would be.
We worked our way out to the furthest trail, Goat Dance, climbed the steepest of the sand hills, walking some of it due to the sheer impossibility of riding them coupled with the couple of wind falls that crossed the trail. This gave me an opportunity to drain most of my water bottle and get some hydration back. We moved what trees we could, but a chainsaw would have to be the best method to remove the obstacles.
As we crossed the apex of the climb and headed back down it was sheer joy remembered why mountain biking is so much fun. The alcohol from the night before had been disposed of somehow by my body and my mind seemed sharp and clear.
We made our way over to a couple of the trails Levis is known for, Sidewinder being one. Wish I would have remembered the camera...coming down Upper Hermosa with the big banked switchbacks would have made a great video due to no summer leaves that would have obstructed the view of Chris making his way down the snake with Coop in the lead.
We made our way back to camp to grill burgers and cook mushrooms and asparagus in tin foil as we enjoyed the morning and time well spent together before Chris returned west and I headed out east.
Right before I left the parking lot friends from Madison with their wives showed up to enjoy the day at Levis as well.
To see pics and videos of past Levis trips, look over to the right for LEVIS and click on the LABEL. They will all load, just scroll down to see them.