by Jesse Peterson, Mechanic at The Path Bike Shop Live Oak
“He knew how to handle pain. You had to lie down with pain, not draw back away from it. You let yourself sort of move around the outside edge of pain like with cold water until you finally got up your nerve to take yourself in hand. Then you took a deep breath and dove in and let yourself sink down it clear to the bottom. And after you had been down inside pain a while you found that like with cold water it was not nearly as cold as you had thought it was when your muscles were cringing themselves away from the outside edge of it as you moved around it trying to get up your nerve. He knew pain.” ― James Jones, From Here to Eternity
Although I know many things can be said about a simple ride through the Santa Anas, come Monday morning (a day after the Sunday Tour) I found myself short of words and still in thought. It is back to a busy life, enduring the tasks and responsibilities in this shared network we call "real life." Back to the grind. Seemingly uninspired I searched for a frame of reference that I could build a blurb about our Shop Ride with, and upon reading through a bunch of quotes about endurance, serenity replaced anxiety and my thoughts became simplified...making it much easier to type a short page on my MTB ride.
There's two ways to start a long ride:
- To begin with the idea in mind you must force your body catch up to your will
- To pull your body along with your will, operating closer to the speed at which your will feels like going
For example, sometimes you are dreading the start of a long ride, believing the trail will get the upper-hand rather than beginning a ride without expectation of "getting worked." Or maybe you begin a ride dreading the potentiality that you may be too slow for the group, therefore you ride in competition with yourself and the group. I believe that we sometimes don't understand what we are capable of and therefore are at a crux, with unknown outcomes in its different directions. I try to choose the road of least resistance; the road where I'm free to do my best, whatever my state - where my will leads the way for my body to follow. That's the place where my pain isn't a boundary but is much more a feeling and by-product of expressing my will.
Anyways, thoughts like this arise on rides or after rides like San Juan to Los Pinos.
Without any warming up the trail jacks up off Hot Springs Canyon road with four miles of sustained climbing until you reach "Coctail Rock", which is the usual turn-around spot of many. Sunday the 23rd of June, relatively equal to the longest day of the year on June 21st, was a day in which the sun was the highest in the sky that it would be all year long, and we felt it. Of course I forgot my sunscreen! Nevertheless, I rode in appreciation of our wonderful heat-lamp in the sky, and of this exciting time of the year- the beginning of summer. Although I couldn't help but to think how ironic it was that summer begins just as the days grow shorter and the doldrum afterglow of spring moves us closer to fall and eventually to the shortest days of winter. Anyhow, I enjoyed these thoughts as we pedaled up to Blue Jay.
Between Cocktail Rock and Blue Jay is a wonderful topographical illusion, where you think you're back on the valley floor. Needless to say, you're not; you're actually up on a high plateau, amidst native meadows and Oak woodlands...where Bambi lives. The pedal to Blue Jay from San Juan is nice because you get a surprisingly technical descent and then a gradual climb - which unlike the lower section of the ride, is under intermittent canopies. The ride on Blue Jay isn't that bad either, although you begin to start climbing up steeper terrain. The ride becomes very difficult to maintain your Zen when you get to "The Wall". The two miles of fireroad on the Main Divide is where the real hurt begins. But it's only two miles, so once you start to break down and die, you pop out on top and laugh; that is, until you jump the motor barricade and start your first hike-a-bike.
We all began to really feel the heat of the noonday sun on the way up to Pinos. Steve, my uncle (with the bandana) was beginning to get the twitch- as was Smiling-Tony- a predictable occurrence upon reaching the summit of Pinos (4,510 feet above sea level, 3,500 feet above the parking lot). After a short summit-gathering we headed back down - although the climbing was hardly over. There are about 15 climbs on Pinos ridge, most of which are hike-a-bikes. Once getting over every little peak the trail dumps you straight down another hair-raising downhill, littered with sharp and loose rocks, taunting your tires with their serrated edges. Surprisingly I was the only person to flat, and it was because I already had a slow leak and ignored it until it pinched.
Five and a half hours after we began our first climb, we made our last descent through Lazy-W Ranch and down old Hot Springs Canyon road to our cars, sitting still under the waving Sycamores. I couldn't believe it took so long to do just 22.5 miles, but Tony explained how we were only climbing at an average rate of 4 miles/hour. I became silent, pondering the rest of the equation. I was also wondering how much different my next ride up San Juan would be. Who will I be with? What will the weather be like? Will I be faster or slower? What will the next SingleTrack of the Santa Anas Tour take me on? Questions that really didn't matter as we sat drinking Tacate, but seemed to change the way I thought about the past, and the ride we just finished.
- Jesse Peterson