Monday, June 19, 2006

The hills have eyes

I sort of live in the boonies.

Well, its not really the boonies, but its secluded enough to be one of those places that meth labs occasionally blow up around. And cars are left stranded on the roads for weeks (sometimes months) and only towed away after the local buzzards have stripped the carcass clean.

I am at home in the boonies. But only if its my boonies. And even then, quite frankly, sometimes my boonies creep me out. There are a few roads in my area that I am not all that comfortable riding alone on.

Such is how it is when you are a woman riding alone. Even though there might be nothing at all to fear...protective instinct is always in the back of your mind. I think its wise to be a little cautious and reasonably on guard. But then its hard to completely relax when out on rides by myself in areas that are a little secluded.

And yet, if you don't ride by yourself every now and then, you don't ride. And thats hardly an option.

And so it was, yesterday. My crazy man was racing Nevada City and I was not (crazy or racing). Instead I brought my mountain bike to take advantage of the great trails in the area. Because it was father's day, I had trouble finding any riding companions. But I was alerted to a fun little singletrack that paralleled Highway 20 into Nevada City.

Perfect. A singletrack next to the highway meant I could ride my little heart out, but not be too far into the boonies to worry much.

Of course, that would have meant actually staying on the right trail. Or finding the right trail to begin with.

The trail I was supposed to ride was Pioneer Trail. A well maintained singletrack that paralled Highway 20 for about 20 something miles.

I have no idea what trail I actually started on. It was the duffiest piece of trail I have ridden since the USGP cyclocross race at Golden Gate park. The trail had a giant rut in the middle and a foot of duff everywhere. I remember thinking that this was not fun at all and the guy in the parking lot who said it was rocky was a madman.

But I descended as happily as I could. And descended. And descended.

After much zigzagging on duffy stuff I eventually popped out onto a fire road. There were no signs of where to go. So I went left for a while and saw nothing but bland fireroad for days. I backtracked and went right. After a bit I came to an intersection of 3 fireroads and one singletrack. And no signs on any of them. And the singletrack appeared to go in the wrong direction.

And no sign of Highway 20 as far as I could see or hear.


I did what any self respecting mountain biker would do. I took the singletrack.

And then, in the woods and off on another fire road, just about in the middlest of the boonies that you could get, I spied 3 beat up pick up trucks. And heard the buzzing of chainsaws. Off in the distance were what appeared to be some local boys (with a presence that matched their pick ups if you know what I mean) poaching fire wood (or maybe they had a permit, but I was assuming the worst).

I needed to know where I was. And they were the only people I had seen in the last hour.

And yet, I needed not to be fed to the people under the stairs either.

I decided to go back to the intersection of the fire roads again just in case I missed something.

I didn't. It was as confusing as the first time I stared blankly at it. I decided nothing to do to do but buck up and ask the texas chainsaw massacre dudes for directions.

I caught one of them just as he turned off his saw (its safer that way I hear). "Umm....excuse me" I muttered as politely yet as confidently as I could muster. He turned to look at me and appeared for a moment to be a bit taken aback. I forgot that I was full bella'd out. And that seeing a pink and blue flaired out bella, on a kitty kat bike, with a giant flower in her helmet in the middle of the woods you are poaching (or not) might be a little.....odd.

And yet, after a pause for surprise, this man whom I had made so many scary generalizations about, was polite and kind. He told me that I was about 3-4 miles away from Highway 20, that I had probably gotten lost on the network of motorcycle trails and that I should backtrack on the singletrack to where I came from or follow the fireroad back to 20. He asked about my bike and told me of other great places in the area to ride. He was generally cheery and seemed to welcome the excuse to pause from his work.

Phew...I was relieved to have had my bearings readjusted (in more ways than one I suppose) I wished him a happy father's day spent oak "gathering". (Except I didn't say it with the quotes).

.........And took the singletrack back just in case.


At 2:08 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger marscat said...

hee-hee: And yet, I needed not to be fed to the people under the stairs either.

funny and creepy. glad you are alive to tell.

At 2:24 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Jed said: said...

Attagirl sabine. See? You're fine.

Duff duff duff.

At 2:39 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger PAB said...

i love a story with a happy ending.

At 2:42 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Miss Mary said...

nice story,

thanks for sharing.

At 2:52 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger X Bunny said...

i think that means you are in trubble too...

At 3:29 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

The real trail was not duffy at all. It was quite unduffy. But those motorcycle trails are super duffy.

I guess i shouldn't complain though since the duff makers put food on my table.

At 3:53 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

now i'm hungry

At 4:11 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger PAB said...

i like food...

but i hate the duff. and some of those duff-makers can be really...not-so-nice.

At 4:29 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

I ran into some duff makers during my backtrack.

they were very nice, and finished pointing me in the direction of the highway. Even offered water.

It was sort of a relief to see other people. I wasn't afraid of the motos like I was the chainsawers. Although I realize danger can come in any form and I couldn't out run the motos in forested single track the way I could pick ups...

funny how we get our generalizations of what to be cautious about.

At 4:34 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger PAB said...

i know, i know, there's a good apple in every bunch, or something like that...

At 4:58 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

I like to think of it the other way around...

At 7:17 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger PAB said...

you mean, like, one good orange in every bunch?

At 10:05 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger X Bunny said...

i have to admit that i hate trying to decide if i am going to ride or not based on whether an area is safe to be alone

there are so few people for me to ride with here that it comes up a little too often

oh well, there aren't too many cars either so you can't have everything

At 10:30 PM, June 19, 2006, Blogger L. Christmas said...

pioneer trail = yummy!!

At 10:44 AM, June 20, 2006, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Growing up in the boonies I was totally fearless of the people and the creepy-crawlies and everything.

Going back "home" these days those folks scare me pretty bad. The crawlies are still cool.


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