It was a snowy Saturday evening in November, the streetlights showed glistening specks falling like stars. There is something ethereal about getting geared up and going for a fatbike ride in the fresh-fallen snow. It’s dark out and the world around you is typically quieter at night than during the day. I could hear the snow making the combination of squish/crunch under my tires, simply because my body weight put enough pressure on the tires to compact everything.
We headed up Quarry Hill to our usual route, some people probably thinking we were nuts. Not only for riding at night, but for riding in the nighttime on fresh, snow-covered trails. Everything started out normally and I, again, had some hard lessons with learning how to successfully ride the fatbike. My back tire spun out more than I wished it would, I had to walk more than I wanted to (up hills) but other than that? I enjoyed myself. It was also great to be outside and feel comfortable with the layers I had chosen. Apparently dressing appropriately for the temperatures wasn’t too difficult, yet!
After we got to the end of Little Big Horn, we were about to head onto Fred’s when we saw a light ahead. Lucas had text me earlier and had mentioned he planned to go out, too. Ironically even tho we had a head start, we managed to meet up. The trio of us continued onward onto Fred’s and I’ll admit I felt a bit more nervous about riding down that trail- mainly just the one spot before you make your way down the hill and to the hairpin turn.
I inched my bike slowly over the snow-covered rocks and roots, my heart felt like it was in my throat and I couldn’t breathe. It was intense. It was the same feeling that I battled the first few times I rode down Fred’s after a rain. As I made my way around the turn, I held my breath until I made it around the half-moon and started down the hill. YEAH! I didn’t slip out! No walking! I exhaled and let myself smile a somewhat shaky smile of relief.
We decided where to go next, originally my thoughts were to go on Lower Randy’s-but Lucas thought Old Randy’s would be fun. Well, okay! I knew my accomplishing the hill would be a long stretch, but if I rode up part of it successfully I’d be golden. Well, how about we make that a literal part....
I was a ways up, but not what I would consider the middle by any means, but further up from the bottom of the hill than not. My pedal struck a root or rock, not sure, but it put me off balance and I stopped to re-situate myself. I put my butt back on the seat and moved the pedal up in hopes to have a successful takeoff. Apparently my pedal wasn’t up high enough, my foot slammed down, I stepped off the pedal and my foot was right on the edge of a berm (or the trail)…and (WHOOP) my foot slips.
I don’t just slide off and onto my butt in the snow, nope. I take a more dramatic tumble than that, because I wouldn’t be “Biffy the Singletrack Slayer” if I didn’t add excitement to my falls. I am pretty sure I went head first, somersaulting, hitting my knees on some cut trees (of smaller size), a branch whipped me in the face, (instantly making me worry about my teeth), and I slid a ways down on my back. Bike following me. I’m sure it went something like this: “OwOWowOWowdangitow**&%%$#$##@&*^OW!”
I sat up, having to sit for a long moment because I felt nauseous…touching my teeth with my tongue to make sure everything was intact. Yup. Travis made his way down the hill to bring the bike back up, then reaching down for my hand after I had crawled up to a point where he could hoist me up. My knees bloody hurt, as I had re-hit the one knee I had banged up two weeks prior. Dangit.
The walk up Old Randy’s was one of sheepish embarrassment. I was rattled a bit and working to quell the uneasy feeling in my stomach. I assessed my knees and figured that I could ride around some more without too much trouble. At the top we did the Dunning’s Loop, went down Captain’s, over to Upper Randy’s, down Backside, and Lower Randy’s. During this time I did slide out once on the Dunning’s Loop, but was happy to successfully go down the switch backs and ride up most of Upper Randy’s. Bum knee and all. Our finale was the Luge, which I did not ride fast, but was happy to come out the end of it without falling.
The ride this night had given me a lot of lessons as well as a moment of humbleness. I can’t say that I particularly love falling off the side of a trail in the dark (ha!) but I feel it could’ve been a lot worse. Also, having to deal with myself psychologically and emotionally after a tumble like that. Travis questioned on whether or not I would enjoy fatbike riding, to which I said “You’re building me a fatbike, so I’m going to ride it.” I will admit I’m feeling a bit more like I felt when I first started mountain bike riding. I feel my nervousness, I have to work hard, and I’m not “as good” as I once was. (The snow is challenging for me.) Well, what did I do months ago? I made myself get out on the trails by myself and rode them. And I liked it.
And so it begins, a new chapter with my skill-building and mountain bike adventures.