Riding in California on holiday, Ed Oxley discovers a little more of the local wildlife than he’d like…
A good bit of singletrack, a nice bike and a sunny sky do not guarantee a great ride.
The truly great ride must be an experience that transcends the everyday and becomes a personal legend. Some rides are good because of the company or the solitude, the views or the riding thrills. This ride was great because it was unforgettable.
I was in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. After six weeks of rain at home in England, the dry dusty conditions, strong blue sky and temperatures in the mid 80s laid a good foundation for greatness. Riding alone with no idea of where I was going, I started following a jeep track and soon spotted what looked like a singletrack path. It plunged down fast over roots and rocks, the trail drifty thick with sand. Everything was unfamiliar and my senses were overloaded. The air was dry in my nose and the drama of mature pine forest set against glimpses of granite mountaintops dazzled my eyes. It was too much and I laid the bike down to stop myself disappearing further into the abyss. Fearing I would never return I shouldered my bike back out of the gully. This was big country and it felt exciting and dangerous.
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Back safely in the truck with my bike in the back I felt deeply privileged and quite out of my depth. Here I was on my own in another country way out in the forest, just riding along. When you’re on your own there is no one to tell so I stated the obvious to myself, “This is not like home, there are animals that could eat me out there”. The only threatening beasts I usually have to contend with are the midges. I had brought lights with me on this trip thinking I might do a spot of night riding. Those lights stayed safely in the box.