My intended morning mountain bike ride today turned into a high noon ride with Big Cottonwood Creek being the destination. It was a little hotter than I would have liked. (Mid 70’s) but still just fine. I clipped my cell phone on a waistband instead of stuffing it in my camelback so that I could get to the built in camera more readily. The first two miles of Cottonwood is not all that inviting or fun. It feels exposed, hot, and the trail is often loosened by those who like to ride their horses on the trail. Today wasn’t too bad however, as the trail took some rain a couple of days ago and it appeared only one horse had been there before me and had only gone in about a mile.
The character of the trail changes dramatically at two miles in as the canyon narrows and the single track starts skirting the edge of the creek. I should say the creek “below” because there is a steep drop off, in many sections, to the creek below. It wouldn’t kill you to fall of the edge, but you would tumble and roll either all the way to the water, or get tangled and scratched up in some juniper trees. (I have some experience in this realm. I am intimately acquainted with both living and dead junipers.).
Today was my 3rd straight day of riding. I selected Cottonwood because I remembered it to be less challenging than some of the other trails I have been on lately. My memory was faulty however, as it frequently is. After two miles the trail is full of challenges that I either forgot about, or only recognize now because my riding ability has deteriorated so much since the last time I was on the trail. I remembered 1 “king of the hill” challenging section, but for me today, there seemed to be about a dozen of them. Oh well, the endless challenges that mountain biking present to you is part of what I enjoy most about it.
I wish I would have had on some shin guards today though. I haven’t hit my shin so hard with some reverse pedal action in a long time!
Though I had to clip out and walk several times on the way up, and once on the way down where a bush decided to take over the trail right up to one of the ledges, I only fell once. So much of balancing when at a ledge, seems psychological. The more one worries about tumbling off, the more one starts to lean away from the ledge which just puts you out of balance and gets you all wobbly. At least when I fell, I tipped left and not into a mess of fallen juniper just over the ledge. Having the story that Walt told me yesterday, about how he had 11 screws in his elbow from a tumble he took off an edge on his last mountain bike ride, running through my head all day didn’t help me “relax” either.
On the way out I had forgotten my camelback and circled back for it. It was only worth the return trip for the spare tubes however since I only had, to my chagrin, two gulps of water remaining in the pack. I am not a big drinker and assumed I had plenty remaining from my last ride. I should have checked and not relied on this assumption.
Just as I returned to the trailhead a family of 5 was heading out on their horses. I am thankful I didn’t run into them on the way down. I have run into horses returning to the trailhead there before, without any problem, but there is always a a chance you will be coming too fast around a corner and not see them in time to avoid spooking some horses. I would hate to have a child thrown off a horse because I spooked it. Knowing there are horses on that trail however, has made me slow down and be more alert than I might be on other trails where I have never seen any horses.
Oh, I didn’t see any wildlife today but a big falling leaf startled me into a shout as it flew right at my face and hit me on the chest and leg. It seemed to come out of nowhere! Later this fall I am going to try to relive one of my favorite sections of this very trail where one can just ride on a colorful and crunchy bed of leaves for some distance. (Looking forward to it)
Below are some pictures of the trailhead, a beaver pond I spotted on the way down, a portion of the trail near some caves, and the family of 5 that left on horseback. On this blackberry wordpress interface I don’t know yet how to insert the picture within the entry.
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