I've been meaning to get to Northshore Trail ever since I got my husband's mountain bike fixed. Northshore Trail is pretty much THE premiere mountain biking spot in North Texas. I mean, The Colony Lakeside is alright, but it's pretty flat, so I wanted to challenge myself. You know, to see how I would do on a "real" trail. I've been putting it off and putting it off, mostly because I put off my rewards indefinitely to discourage myself like any normal, healthy person would. *ahem* This morning, I hauled myself out of bed, ate a good breakfast, got my hydration backpack filled up, and drove the thirty minutes to Grapevine Lake. I was thinking to myself, "there's no mountains in Texas. How hard could it be?"
Ha ha ha.
I parked at the trail head, readied my gear. and headed out. The first fifty yards were fine. "Oh how pleasant!" I said to the squirrels who had gathered to watch the newbie. "Such a lovely wooded...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAA!!!" Do you know how many times you can fit the phrase "oh sh*t" into a mile? I sure do. Okay, so nobody told me about the ROCKS and the ROOTS I'd have to contend with. If I had the requisite body parts, I'd have been singing soprano. The downward slope wasn't that bad, actually. It was just all the roots and rocks that made it treacherous. Then I came to a nice little sandy patch and coasted along for a bit, shaking and catching my breath. I turned a corner and there was a sheer drop (at least it looked that way to me). This is the part where my personal soundtrack cranks up "O Fortuna" from "Carmina Burana" as I stare into the abyss and it stares back.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know some of you people laugh in the face of danger and live in the Rockies. Good for you. As for me, I wasn't about to take that, so I walked it down. YES. I VALUE MY LIFE, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.
Oh, my children, but there is more. For you see, in my infinite wisdom, I did not bring a trail map, and therefore had no earthly idea where I was going, and wouldn't you know it, my GPS wouldn't work. Typical. I stopped at a wide part on the trail to orient myself and also take a picture of a flower.
After I took the picture, I happened to glance down at the trail. There were some older dog tracks, but in a clear spot, there appeared to be an unusual looking track. "That's odd," I muttered as I examined it. "It's the size of a dog, but there aren't any claw indentations. And the print is more squat. Kind of like... a cat... only... bigger..." I could smell deer in the area, and also something else. (Yes I am a redneck and track by smell in the woods. Sue me.) This other scent was not a dog. It was not coyote. Raise your hands, kids: how many of you are aware that Grapevine Lake has had mountain lion sightings in the past? WELL YOU ARE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!! I was not entirely sure that it was not bobcat, but it sure looked like a big print to me, so I decided to hustle on out of there. I mean, you know, so I wouldn't disturb it in it's natural habitat. Not because I was concerned it would eat me. Because that's not what I was thinking. At all. (And no, I did not take a picture of the print because I was in a hurry.)
Cue more Carmina Burana:
And then after more scraping of pedals and chain ring on rocks and trees, being covered in inch worms and still butt-lost, I came to a bamboo forest.
I got stuck on a rock and had to get myself unwedged. As I looked around in the eerie calm, one word sprang to mind. And that word was VELOCIRAPTORS.
Clearly the effort was taking it's toll on my fevered brain.
I was reaching the end of my energy reserves, though I had plenty of water with me. I still had no idea where I was, and was getting worried as the trail got rougher and muddier. I gouged my leg a couple of times, had to wade through mud and water, climb a near-vertical hill (seriously, I saw tracks going up that rocky, gnarly mess and I declare witchcraft). I was overtaken by some lunatic who I recognized from the DORBA website as one of the officers of the local mountain bike association. I shall refrain from telling you what I thought. Mostly because I don't really remember, but I'm pretty sure it was unfriendly, since he nearly ran me down. I did learn that I can hop up embankments carrying a mountain bike, though. I trekked on, sometimes walking the bike, sometimes riding, feeling really disoriented and worrying that I was going to end up on the far side of Grapevine Lake, when suddenly a clearing opened up and there was a small parking lot and a bulletin board with a map. Glory be!
I discovered I had been on the EASY trail, which made me really wonder what the more difficult ones were like, and declare that mountain bikers are in fact insane and have every right to make fun of roadies. Y'all crazy, fo realz. I stood being buffeted by the breeze off the lake and realized that if I followed the rest of the route, I'd have another three miles of punishment. Or I could take the unauthorized access paved road and be back to my car in two. I looked at my phone and saw that I had seven e-mails, three phone calls, and a text message. I decided to risk the wrath of the Army Corps of Engineers and take the paved road. The hills were monstrous, but seemed so much easier than what I had been through.
I coasted back to the car and parked the bike, noticing that the shifters weren't working as well as they had been (the bike had taken a serious beating), and that the front brake was scraping a bit. Nothing to terrible for a first outing, though. The wind, however, had other ideas. While I was lifting my bike rack out of the trunk, a gust of wind caught my bike, blew it over, and BLEW IT ACROSS THE PARKING LOT. I have never seen such a thing in all my life. And then I realized that my sunglasses were gone. Lost. I'm sure one of the mountain lions or velociraptors got them. When I retrieved my bike, the front brakes were completely bent, the paint on the fork was scraped clean off, and the front wheel was crooked. That, friends and neighbors, was a mighty wind.
This is what I looked like when I got back to the car, two hours after I started. I sat there for a long time.
Blood, dirt, but miraculously no sunburn.
When I got home, I had a good hot shower and some lunch. I sat down to record my exercise and vowed that I would never ever EVER go mountain biking again.
At least not until the bike gets fixed.