Furry Lewis is back on the trails, having picked him up at United Cycle the other day. Try as I might, I could not seem to get the shifting right after changing the front crankset, putting on a new chain and a new rear cassette. Having received gift certificates to United Cycle from the MS Society, I thought it was time to let a pro mechanic have a go at the gears. And what a great job they did setting up both sets of gears. During the last training session, my chain had been wanting to pop off the 5th and 6th gear and I knew that that would not be cool during the tour, where you are constantly shifting as the terrain coming at you changes quickly,rapidly and frequently.
Never having ridden the trails at Terwilligar by myself, I was pleased to have a colour map from River Valley Cycle to refer to if needed. I chose the perimeter trail to start off and because I have a tendency to lope along when I'm alone, I decided to hit the trail as fast as I possible could - if only to mimic the speed that one of our instructors, Stew Hutchins would ride at. I turned a sharp corner and nearly got my head chopped off by a newly downed poplar - judging from the fresh teeth marks on the trunk. It took sliding the bike nearly horizontal to clear that obstacle.
I was a little nervous about other riders on the trail but after some reflection, I came to the conclusion that at 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning of a long weekend, there were not going to be any traffic jams on the trails. I moved my bear bell from underneath my seat to the handlebars so that it would ring louder and warn other cyclists of my approach.
There is a hill, bald of growth that we tried a few weeks ago in training which only two people managed to conquer (one of them being Al, our instructor that night). I thought to myself "I'm here, my main Saturday obligations are done, I've got all day - what the hey?" It took several tries and on my third attempt I made it - Oh there was a bit of fishtailing of my front wheel, but I made it! I was so proud of myself and learned something about how far forward I needed to shift my butt on my seat to climb a steep hill.
My confidence was so bolstered that I decided to try the Rollercoaster Trail towards the Anthony Henday bridge. Now this is a trail that defeated a few of the riders on last week's training - mind you it was the mud that defeated them. Their tires were so clogged with mud that their wheels wouldn't turn. So it was not a lack of skill that stopped them.
I figured the trail would be dry but if I did come across a puddle, I knew from listening to advice from Al that I should ride through it and not try to skirt around it which would probably cause my tires to slip and put me right in the puddle. After a somewhat technical jaunt, I now know why they named it the Rollercoaster -but I made it to the Henday without any spills. It was at the Henday that I discovered the pedestrian bridge underneath that the River Valley Cycle map had mentioned.In all the times I've driven a vehicle over the bridge, I never knew of its existence.
Down the short paved section leading to the Henday bridge, a skateboarding time trial was taking place and after some wild gesturing from a guy down the trail holding a walkie-talkie I got the idea that they wanted me to stay off the trail while one of the skateboarders whizzed down the slope. Impressive stuff. Graceful too considering the speeds and the small piece of wood holding everything together.
By the time I had paused to snap a picture of one of the racers, the park was beginning to fill up and the skies were threatening imminent rain so I decided that it was better to quit while I was ahead and I knew that I could probably handle myself better during next week's training session - the last one before the tour itself.