Last December, I found myself in a bit of a panic. I needed two things before I headed down to Arizona for the first time to ride: A cute pair of pants (turns out, after you live in a mountain town for several years where you hold jobs that don’t really require you to look excessively nice, you stop owning nice clothes), and rock riding skills. The first problem was easily remediable with a trip to the mall, the second required a frantic call to Jj: We need to go ride Bergen. You need to teach me how to ride rocks. Stat.
Somehow, as is my general life motif of pulling together some amazing stuff when push comes to shove, I showed up to Tucson looking presentable and with some semblance of skills. Enough, at least, to convince Scott that I was a worthy riding partner.
I’ve tried unsuccessfully to embrace Rock Monkey-ing as a lifestyle, since some of my favorite riding partners are full-fledged primates, but I think that maybe they’re starting to rub off on me. A little bit. While I still prefer riding at a pace that involves moving in more than 200 foot increments, I’m finding myself fascinated by learning to get up and over rocks.
With Arizona looming again, I felt like I needed a refresher course from the Rock Monkey master herself. It was time to spend three days learning enough skills so I wouldn’t make a complete ass of myself when I got down to the desert.
After an early morning blood draw in Boulder, I pointed the car west to the desert of Grand Junction and headed out for a quickie loop before the sun set. Well, it was meant to be a quickie and turned into a quickie + an I’m lost at Lunch Loops loop before I successfully located the car again. My second mountain bike race ever was out at Lunch Loops and to this day I’m impressed that a) I didn’t die with no skills and 40 psi in my tires and b) I stuck with mountain biking after the traumatic experience. I scoped out a handful of lines that had scared me in the past, rode a few of them, chickened out on a few of them, and scratched my head at a few of them.
When Jj had asked if there were any trails that I wanted to ride, I had replied the Ribbon. There’s just something about bombing down a giant slab of rock while you’re 2,000 feet above GJ that makes me giggle. So we made that our main mission for Saturday, with some extra trails thrown in before and after.
After over four hours of riding rocks, sessioning moves that seemed impossible and went pretty easily after I stopped unclipping halfway through, and bottoming out my suspension more times than I’d like to admit, I started to feel the skills starting to come around. I also felt like I’d gotten away with murder on a handful of moves that I had no business riding.
Day Two was more of the same Lunch Loops goodness, except this time on the other side of Little Park Road.
“Have you ever ridden Butterknife?” Jj had asked.
“A long time ago, I don’t really remember it.”
“It hasn’t existed for that long…”
“Well, it was spring or fall of 2011. Two years ago. That’s a really long time ago!”
I paused to think of all the cool places I’ve gotten to ride since then. What a fun trip it’s been.
We played on rocks. I started to gain trust in the friction coefficient between my tires and rocks. And then my cranks came loose, a fact that I luckily didn’t notice until we were all but done riding for the day. Lunch loops is good for shaking any loose parts even looser, that’s for sure.
Am I ready to face the rocks of Tucson? Well, if nothing else, I’m a whole lot more ready than I was before the weekend.