Zen On Dirt

A lesson in expectations


Both Scott and I were a little worked over after the White Rim trip, but neither of us are particularly good at sitting still. Plus, we knew we only had two days before Scott’s dad and brother were going to show up, so if we were going to ride some chunk, we should probably do it in the next 48 hours.

Lounging in the Scamp the day after White Rim, we scrolled through our mental list of options. Something that was fun. Something that didn’t require a whole lot of energy. Something with rocks. Hymasa/Captain Ahab? Sure. Why not.

Never mind that I really need to have my Big Girl pants and A-game on to really ride that loop well.


I set my expectations appropriately low for the afternoon ride. (Pro tip: No one rides Hymasa/Ahab in the afternoons. Post 3-pm, you’ll get the trail to yourself.)


And I surprised myself with my level of competence, riding not only the stuff comfortably within my skill level, but riding nearly everything that is right on the edge of my ‘that scares the shit out of me’ level, which is pretty good, because some moves are definitely touch and go for me.


So to do it tired was pretty cool. I actually fancied myself a pretty good mountain biker as we coasted back to the car.


We left satisfied and with the confidence to tackle the Gold Bar singletrack and Portal the next day. This ride has been on my bucket list for a while now, and we figured out a good way to loop it from the campo. Gold Bar just looked amazing, and I wanted to see how bad the exposure on Portal was. Stories of people falling off the 500 ft cliff and dying made me a little nervous, but I also figured that many people had ridden/hike-a-biked it without incident, so I’d probably be okay.

Scott failed to mention how technical Gold Bar was, so I went into the ride planning on riding lots of it.

We started up Gemini Bridges Road.


And were soon into the meat of the climb.


And then, when the climb topped out and the tricky riding started, the wheels started to fall off the bus for me.

The miles passed slowly with off-the-bike, hike, on-the-bike, ride 10 feet, off-the-bike. Repeat.

It was far harder than I had expected.


But spectacular. It truly was as spectacular as I’d expected.

By the time we made it to Portal, my Adrenaline Points had long run out, so I went for a nice walk with my bike along the exposed cliff edge.


I was pretty stoked to make it down to the highway in one piece, but completely shambalized by the day of rocks. I no longer felt like a good mountain biker, and probably, if we didn’t have mountain bike riding visitors coming the next day, I probably would have laced up the running shoes for a few days to get the head sorted out.

Expectations. Never a good idea. Checking off Bucket List rides. Always a good idea.



2 thoughts on “A lesson in expectations

  1. How hot is it in mid afternoon this time of year? Great pics, as always. Jo

    • It’s starting to get hot now…100 degrees forecasted for the next couple of days. I think the end of May can go hot or not…but by June, it’s definitely summer in the desert.

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