Monotony in training routine has squelched many a well-intentioned workout plan. That’s why today we traded our scheduled bike-run brick workout for mountain biking in the Owyhees near Tiddie Creek. (I’ll give general directions at the end of the post) I knew I would get some good hill work, as well as practice balancing. Lemonade in my CamelBak and camera in my hip bag, I was ready to face the wild unknown, for such it always is when Greg drives me out to the spaces beyond the Snake River.
If any of you have ever been on an excursion with Greg, you have heard the words, “That hill is bigger than I remembered…” Today was no different. In spite of all my exercise over the past year, I found my legs utterly exhausted and non-cooperative over and over again as I tried to pedal up the hill in rocks and loose dirt. Every once in a while I would get off and walk because the bike was spinning in place and even threatening to go back down. It was helpful when Greg checked my gears and found I had failed to notice I was in the highest set of gears still… embarrassed… I still had to get off and walk once in a while, but made much better progress overall, until –
Bicycle riding is definitely an experience with physics and vector motion, something I don’t understand very well. I could feel the bike going feral on me, so I slowed and tried to put my feet down. It was all happening quickly, though, and the result was that the pedals smacked my right shin and my left calf. Oh, the pain. I tried to assure Greg I was fine, but he said to stop a minute. Walking stimulated deep aching, so he pushed my bike while I hobbled up to flatter ground.
Here we were closely examined by a swallowtail butterfly, who was sure Greg and my bike were flowers. As the flimsy yellow wings flitted haphazardly from non-flower pink bike to non-flower yellow shirt, my pain subsided and I said I could continue up “the (hour and half long) hill that was bigger than (Greg) remembered.”
About 5 minutes later, as is common out in the Owyhees, we met up with a horseback rider. What was uncommon about this rider is that he was accompanied by about 8 full grown, tough, border collie looking dogs. He, a bearded mountain man looking fellow, directed his horse just into the sage brush to let us pass, but his dogs didn’t have the same idea. They surrounded us and one by one began a chorus of menacing growling. He looked unperturbed and said somewhat impatiently to us, “None of them are mean.”
I am still wondering why he bothered to say this. Finding myself one more time in my life faced with a pack of seemingly fierce dogs, I briefly wondered how anyone conceived of the idea of keeping them as pets! Of course, Greg was there this time, which brought some comfort, but didn’t stop me from starting to sob. FINALLY, the man thought to actually call the dogs. Did he think we just needed to take the first step to making friends with them?? Once they had gone on their way, Greg smiled and said, “I would have let them bite me first!” and “Isn’t this a fun adventure?!”
Greg was correct in saying the increased adrenaline would help me ride up the hill faster. I wasn’t careless, but I was focused and energetic. And, yes, I was smiling and having fun again.
There was some downhill riding here, then we found the happily bubbling Tiddie Creek and crossed it. Periodically, the people on ATVs and dirt bikes passed us. One young man on a dirt bike passed us carefully, then hit a rock such that he careened and got stuck near the side of the road, which went steeply down to the creek bed. I evaluated the full body suit that the riders were wearing and wondered if that is what I needed… Another rider warned us of a rattlesnake he had just seen. At this point it made sense that I might be accosted by my first live rattlesnake, but we never saw it.
The road turned into a rock pit of gallon sized sharp rocks, so we turned around. After I crossed the shallow, rocky, 4 foot wide creek again, Greg said, “Do that again. I want to take a video of you.” It hadn’t been easy the first 2 times, but I went back across and around the corner until I got the call to action. Slowly I pedaled across, but there was a small muddy hill at the other edge, so I needed to pick up a little speed to get up this. Gravity was not with me this time. I got part way up, then began falling. I tried to put my feet down, but was too late. I fell sideways, but backwards, bouncing the back of my helmet (and head inside) into the raised bank of the road.
I yelled angrily, “Did you get THAT?!” The answer was “yes,” so, here for your viewing pleasure, my ridiculous crash:
I really had had enough fun for one day, but we had to get down the hill and to the truck. Hope it doesn’t disappoint you to know that I made it without further significant incident 😉 It was a good “workout” and learning experience. I didn’t break any bones. I have learned that I can nearly balance a bike when it is standing still. Going uphill was an interval routine with variation of terrain to make it interesting. Overall, I managed my bike both up and down hill, gaining expertise (with counsel from Greg) about how to distribute my weight to avoid having the uphill wheel pop up and over me.
So, directions to Tiddie Creek: Head out HWY 45 and take HWY 78 towards Murphy. Turn on Old Highway 45 St, and proceed until it turns to dirt. On the left you will find a sign.