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Bloody Trail Karma-part 2
When we made the decision to give it another shot, it had been two years since I had the chance or felt the need to tackle Lake Lurleen again. There are mountain bike trails scattered all over these Southern United States that have taught me hard lessons yet I keep coming back to the classroom for more schoolin. It is necessary, especially as I get older, to continue to challenge my skills. I can’t seem to follow any kind of anti aging routine except to keep moving my body in ways that some of my peers deem dangerous, a bit insane or possibly even stupid. Ow my hip.
Arkansas has been enjoying the coolest and wettest August on record for many years,record low temps have been set. But it was not so in Alabama when we visited, it was hot, it was humid, stepping out the door in the afternoon felt like stepping in front of someone desperately trying to steam iron a prom dress. And we decided to go for a mountain bike ride at mid-day. See above comment about stupid. As we were gathering gear I realized I only had a 20oz water bottle and no hydration pack or my beloved pineapple Skratch. I worried aloud that one bottle wouldn’t be enough for me in this heat. “We’ll be fine” the man said. “We’re not going to do all the trails, just 10 miles or so on the outer loop.” Off we went, speeding along the edge of the lake, flowing through curves over exposed tree roots and sand pits to the first climb up into the woods. It’s not exactly hot there in the shade of the forest but I’m working hard to keep up with the man on his new, cushy, fast ass Orbea Alma 29er. For several miles it seems we do nothing but climb. Climb, skirt around the ridges and tips, drop just enough to tease us into glee then climb again, never dropping all the way into the valley floor but staying up in the hills. And then just when I’m starting to feel like the trail is kicking me, it drops. Down into the lush green rhododendron forest, over the aptly named Bog Bridge and flying through well planned curves, banked and bermed to give those more skilled than I a chance to really build some speed. But wait, there’s more! How much would you pay for all that sweet flow? Would you pay three climbs? Maybe even four? There has to be payback for all the sweetness right? I only remember one climb. It isn’t a long climb, it is a little steep but not unmanageable, certainly no worse than any of the climbs in the first few miles of the loop. But it is where I unclipped, put my foot down, drank the last of my water, then sat down with my helmet in my hands and tried not to puke. Lurleen had beaten me again.
If I’m going to take a beating I guess I’ll take one from Lurleen. The name makes me think of a big cornfed Iowa farm girl with thick blonde pigtails and big biceps. Damn girl. One of these days I’m going to ride you clean, no injuries, no foot dabbing and certainly no sitting on the side of the trail crying like a kindergartner who just broke her last red crayon while trying to finish that love letter to the ginger boy who sits at the next table over.