Bikes Are Made to be Ridden

The new bike did a great job yesterday.  It was an excellent walker.  As I mentioned, I’m involved with Geocaching, and in preparation for an upcoming geocaching event (GC3W3QG if you’re interested), I had to map some trails in a couple of satellite parks.  Upon arrival, I unloaded, got all set up, and took off right away with no idea what the trail had in store for me.

First, I took the inner-most loop around the lake.  Most all went well until I came upon some serious ruts in the trail.  I dismounted the bike and began pushing it.  It was probably just as well because I was getting winded.  The ruts ended and I got back on the bike and finished the trail.  1.1 miles and I was dead.  The sun was having a much stronger effect on me than I planned and the terrain was nothing like the groomed trails I rode yesterday.  I would have to take an extended break before heading off to map some of the spur trails.

Mostly rested now, I hopped back on the bike and set off again, with no idea of how far I’d be going.  Branching off from the original trail, I didn’t get very far before things got extremely difficult.  The trail had become all sugar sand and the bike wheels were sinking into it, making progress either difficult or impossible.  So I hop off the bike and start pushing it, expecting the trail to get better soon.  It didn’t.  I now had a 40-lb. walker to manage on my hike.  I considered hiding it in the palm bushes, but figured if I was making a loop, that’d be all the further I’d have to walk to get the bike back.  So onward I trudged, pushing the bike through sugar sand in the blazing heat.

The trail got more overgrown and then eventually stopped.  Stopped.  There was no cut trail surrounding the other lake. Rather than backtrack fully, I took a path along the property boundary, which was all sugar sand as well.  The GPS showed I was getting further away from the parking lot and the comfort of the picnic tables with their nice flat bench seats that were so nice to lie down on.  But I pressed on.  Onward until I could see that I was going to intersect with my inbound path.  So it wasn’t really a loop around the lake, but a loop nonetheless.  I began to feel some relief.

Then, water.  I tried to stay above it by walking on the tall grass and using the bike to stabilize myself.  It was no good, so to keep myself above the water, even through one shoe was soaked already, I hopped on the bike and started pedaling.  I went nowhere and had to land both feet into the water up to my knees.  Great.  I slogged myself and the bike out of the swamp and weighed my options.  The GPS showed I was very close to my inbound trail as long as I was willing to do some bushwhacking to get back to the trail, or I could backtrack the full way.  The decision was easy, even if neither choice was easy.

Bushwhacking doesn’t have to be difficult.  Bushwhacking while hauling a 40-pound bike is.  Through clusters of palms, down into a culvert, over fallen trees, up and down the culvert walls to avoid obstacles, then finally, right through a mass of sand spurs.  And I’m back on the trail!  At this point I ‘m wobbly on my feet and burning up from the sun.  I’m taking tiny sips of water because I can’t stomach larger gulps.  I check the GPS and see that I’m .7 miles from home base as the crow flies, but the trail is nothing like a straight line.  Not much I can do about that.  Start walking.

Eventually, I make it back to the pavilion, take off my socks and wring them out, take off my shirt and wring it out, then lie down for a while.  That was 4.4 miles of hell according to the GPS.  And the funny thing was, I wasn’t done yet.  I packed up, got some lunch, then stopped at a store and bought some clean socks, undershirts, and a hat.  Went back to the trail and mapped out another 3 miles (sans stupid bike).  And there is more to be mapped for another trip, but that will be much easier because I won’t bring my walker that time.

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