Get Out! Breaking out the bike
First ride a chance to shake the nerves
Anticipation. That’s the feeling that comes over me with the first ride of bike season every year. Butterflies start fluttering about in my stomach, and I start thinking about every drop and ledge on the route I’m about to tackle. This year was no different.
My boyfriend and best biking buddy had already been on their first rides of the season; I was feeling behind without even being on the bike. So, when Adelle suggested biking after work Wednesday, I jumped at the chance. Usually my first ride is on Rustler’s Loop at the Kokopelli trails in Loma, but for time’s sake we decided to head over to the Lunch Loop trails.
No biking for about four months, and my first ride was going to be on the technically challenging Lunch Loop trails? Believe me, I spent a large portion of the day thinking about two specific trail obstacles I knew I’d encounter: the drop at the beginning (or end, depending on how your ride it) of the Ali-Ali Loop and a last tricky rock curve on Holy Bucket on our way back to the car.
I really don’t know why I was nervous about those spots. I’d ridden them plenty of times before. Still, I think when particular obstacles still give us pause it shows we’re only human. In the end it’s all about having fun and conquering a little bit of fear at the same time. So, off we went to celebrate more light at the end of the day.
The parking lot (apparently no longer “secret” parking lot) was packed. Then again, it’s a dirt circle, so “packed” is a relative term, I suppose. Dogs ran here and there, excited to be out and ready to run with their riders. People took bikes off racks and trail runners stretched by their cars. I pedaled around the parking lot a few times to remind myself that, yes, I was indeed clipped into my pedals.
My boyfriend had given my bike its spring checkup, something I highly recommend you do, so I knew my tires were pumped, chain cleaned and lubed, and brakes in proper working condition. I adjusted The Daily Sentinel’s new GoPro camera and we took off.
Wobbly. I’m so wobbly! Look farther ahead. How did Adelle get so far ahead of me already?
I’m biking slow. I took a deep breath as I approached a steep section on Clunker that can sometimes have loose dirt and rocks. Awesome. It’s tacky and packed down and perfect. Rode that like it was nothing. There ya go. You’re good; no worries. Just have fun.
With my mental pep talk complete, I caught up to Adelle, and we rode Clunker to the switchbacks that lead to Miramonte Rim. I think, for both of us, the reasoning here was: If we rode part of the rim, we wouldn’t have to ride the hill leading from Holy Cross back up to the ridge. In any case, the views from Miramonte Rim were spectacular. Getting to ride while watching the changing light over Colorado National Monument is definitely something special.
After climbing up Coyote Ridge, we made a triangle by turning right to ride down Raven’s Ridge and then turning again back onto Ali-Alley to go back over to Coyote Ridge. If you’re short on time and just want some fun riding in the afternoons, making little loops like this keeps the ride entertaining.
Then we arrived at the four-way junction of Ali-Alley, Coyote Ridge and the Ali-Ali loop. It was crowded. There were people coming from every direction. We could see a line of about a dozen guys (probably a bike group like Endoholics) heading our way, so we waited as they climbed up the end of the loop and zoomed past us up Ali-Alley.
Then, it was our turn. I took a deep breath, turned on the GoPro, and followed Adelle down the rock ramp, made the sharp turn to avoid a pinyon tree and dropped over the last ledge to the Ali-Ali loop.
Phew! For a minute there I was staring at the patch of dirt in front of the ramp just imaging picking myself up from there after an endo. Fortunately there was none of that.
For the rest of our ride, we cruised along, rolling down the Holy Cross hill, turning left onto Clunker, then Bunker and then Holy Bucket to make it back to the car.
That last tricky spot got me once again on the climb out, but it’s not going anywhere. I’ve got time to master it. Heck, I’ve got a whole bike season ahead.