Through an unexpected turn of events, I ended up coming on this trip alone. Alone, as in no husband or children. Alone, as in no responsibility to any other person. I have to tell you, while I miss my family, I could definitely get used to this! I left my return kind of loose, either Thursday or Friday, but I also know that this is my one shot this summer to have some extended time to myself, so I wanted to actually do something with it (besides N's volleyball tournament, the reason I was in Minneapolis after Hannibal). Since yesterday was another volleyball/drive day, that left today.
I'm staying with my brother Jim, who kindly offered his mountain bike for me to use. Some google-ing led me to Levis Mounds Rereational Area and its 30+ miles of mountain bike trails. It's about an hour drive from his house. Jim had to work today, so after sleeping in, getting sucked into the diy network's Crash Week, and eating leftover deep dish pizza for brunch, I headed out. It wasn't until I was pulling up at the trailhead that I thought about the fact that I was going somewhere new, had no idea where I was going or what was there, am not the best mountain biker, and was alone. Sometimes I forget that I'm not quite as gutsy as I like to think I am....but I was already there, so I was committed.
|Main parking lot/shelter|
|Trail leading off from the parking area|
Once I got to the singletrack, the trails had some cool new-to-me features. Like this...
|In case you didn't read it, it suggests "jump"...I declined the offer. :)|
|So pretty out there.|
|Ahhhh, this is why there's so much sand!|
I climbed up on the rocks and was about to climb onto the higher point when I realized that I always have a much easier time getting up than back down. Since I was out there without anyone to help me climb down and didn't really want to spend the night up there, I decided to play it safe.
|Thoroughly enjoying myself.|
|The lines of trees looked really neat.|
I know it's only 2.4 miles, but 2.4 miles on a mountain bike isn't necessarily a fast ride...especially if you're me. I rode a little further and decided that bonking at the very furthest area from my car was a bad idea, so I turned around.
Before heading out on the last trail, I had studied the map to figure out the way I'd head back to the parking lot. My trail would run into another trail, which I'd take to the doubletrack. When I got to the intersection, though, I couldn't figure out which way to go on the other trail. Now, just to give you a clear picture of how incompetent I am, I had both the very good trail map in my hand as well as a bigger map posted at the intersection. As I looked back and forth from the map to the trails in confusion, I was quite sure that the map's way would lead me right back the way I'd come, which wasn't the way back. I knew it was the wrong way because it ran alongside those really cool straight rows of trees I'd been admiring before.
|What are the chances that there'd be similar trees in the forest?|
At this point, I was pretty sure that I was going the wrong way, but I decided to continue on my path because if it was wrong it would take me back to an intersection I had been at. Rather than continue to second-guess myself and bounce back and forth on the trail, I opted to follow Luke's advice from the non-race and get myself to a known location. Even though it cost me a little time, I think it was the right decision. Sure enough, I was wrong, but then I just picked a new way back, and this time I got it right. And it was a good lesson that, at least sometimes, the map just might know more than me. Who'd have guessed? :)