The first half of the week was spent in what I started calling "turn clinic." After Nationals, the caravan (with me aboard) headed to the lovely city of Minneapolis, where we got to spend some time hanging with the homey's, riding the local trails, and getting fussed at by grumpy locals. Good times, for the most part. Minneapolis seems to have a pretty strong metropolis bike culture, which is something I've realized that I miss, living in the North Carolina mountains. Anyway, "turn clinic" began at Nationals with the singletrack being a bit techy, but mostly turny, and extended into the trails in Minn.....not a bit techy and all turny. OK, ok, I get the message. I need to work on my turning skills. Done. I feel like a new turny lady. So much so that I got ballsy about all my new bike skills and rode across this ridiculously wide bridge even though it was long enough to make me question whether or not to 'commit' to it. After I was on it I thought duh, wow, girl, learn to ride a bike perhaps.
So next it was off to North Dakota, one of the few states I had yet to officially visit. Turns out (ha ha) it's a beautiful state with a huge variety of terrain and plenty of trails to ride through it. We parked at one of the campgrounds near the Maah Taah Hey trail- a 94 mile point to point that winds up and down these amazing mesa type structures and canyons that cut through Little House on the Prairie. Pretty sweet.
Our first ride of the day was more joke than ride. For some reason we got antsy and thought it would be a good idea to leave the trailer after the rain started. There are reasons why most people ride before the rain starts, or after it ends. All of these reasons and more became emminently apparent within 5 minutes of being on the bikes. Anyone remember the mud conditions at Dirt, Sweat and Gears this year?? This was like DSG on acid, or coke, or both, hell, whatever. Riding was almost impossible, then it was impossible, then carrying the bike was almost impossible. Then carrying the bike was impossible. Then I spent five minutes trying to clear the rocks, adobe and sticks out of my chain (yes, my chain), and off my tires, so I could move the bike with me on it, getting enough speed up to fling the poo off. Well, this worked for about 10 seconds, until the slip and slide I was riding down flung me into the sage brush. Oh hell. I caught up to Dejay who was wandering around like he was looking for the answer to life, the universe, and everything else, and we made our ways back toward camp.
Hour one= .5 mile out, .5 mile back.
Hour two= scrub the adobe brick from my bike and hope that I haven't ruined all the juicy parts of my steed
Now it was going on 3 o'clock in the pm, but dammit, I wanted to ride!! So Dejay and I (minus Fuzzy, who we had lost in the monsoon), headed off to pedal up the road and see what adventure we could get ourselves into...... 4 miles of gravel to 10 more miles of paved road....hey, at least we're pedaling and not pushing!!! Next thing we knew, we were at the other end of the piece of trail we started on this morning- but the sun was shining, the trail was dry and dusty, and the sky was blue. So we decided to head back on the trail and pray it didn't get mucky again. Fortunately the rest of the ride was brilliant. The landscape was amazing and constantly changing...... prairie meadows with double track and prickly pears- crumbly oreo cookie rocky cliffs- sandy plains like the face of the moon- loose, rocky switchbacks with trees all around. It was pretty dynamic to say the least. At one point we ended up in a near cattle stampede....I thought I might try running with the bulls, but they were cows, so I didn't feel nearly as Euro as if they had been bulls. And I was in Spain.
In the end we rode about 40-ish miles and made it back in time to clean up in the 30 degree water pump, before eating a big plateful of salad and goat cheese spread. It's all love. I couldn't ask for more.