Despite a gloomy, stormy forecast, the rain held off on Friday (other than sprinkles). This was great news because my first grade class had a field trip to Cahokia Mounds.
While the museum at Cahokia Mounds is really cool, the highlight of the field trip is climbing the 100+ stairs to the top of Monk's Mound, and of course, this is the part that's threatened by the weather. Despite a pretty chilly day, though, the rain held off. We had a few sprinkles on our way back down, but we stayed pretty dry.
I had sent Patrick a message earlier in the day suggesting that, if the weather hold off, we try mountain bike school again. While I'm able to bulldoze through a lot on the trails, I'm definitely lacking in the technique department, so Patrick had offered to help me work on skills. Last week rain spoiled our plans, but this Friday things looked promising...right until I left school. Luckily, once again the rain was light and short-lived, and we were able to meet up at the SIUE trails. Unfortunately, I was tardy for class because I realized halfway there that I didn't have my bike shoes. This is turning into a real problem for me as I've also left them in other peoples' cars twice. (Thanks, Luke and Bob for turning around and Emma for mailing them to me!)
Friday's lesson plan:
- Using body momentum to lift the front wheel instead of just pulling with my arms (eh...long way to go on this still).
- Flow: Next, we headed to the first dip in the trail. I'm comfortable riding it one direction, but I've walked it in the other direction ever since attempting it and crashing last year. Not anymore. Patrick made me ride it back and forth until I came through with a minimum of brakes in either direction.
- Switchbacks: I lose a ton of time on turns and such because I'm braking so much, so we practiced switchbacks on the trail and then riding in fairly tight circles around a bush in both directions.
- Log jumping: This is the one area where I felt fairly comfortable and maybe even surprised Patrick a little bit. I still need to work on my timing, but this was not terrible.
|Over the shoulder shot. The trails were in great condition.|
We were supposed to play volleyball at my father-in-law's sand court on Sunday, but a combination of busy friends and iffy weather convinced Jeff to cancel. I'd kept my mouth shut (hard as that may be to believe) about it because I do an awful lot of things that I want to do and didn't want to sway his decision away from his plans, but I was really wanting to go to Indian Camp Creek Park for an orienteering meet.
Actually, what I really wanted to do was first the meet and then mountain bike, but I wasn't quite sure how I'd get away with that since I planned to get Jeff and J to do the meet with me. When I first mentioned it, J was all excited: "Yeah, I want to do that!" Then he asked, "Are you going to do the map?"
"Well, I'd like to," I told him.
"Ok, that's good," he responded, "Then you can get practice navigating for your races."
He totally gets it. :)
So I got my way, and instead of being happy I was feeling crabby as we headed towards the park. The getting out of the house process is way more stressful when the family is going than when it's just me, the weather was looking like crap, my compass is still making it's way back to me, and the meet was going to use an aerial map rather than a topographical map, something which may have kept me home if I'd realized it before we were committed to going.
I'm so glad we went! J really likes orienteering, and Jeff, who wouldn't typically run unless you held a gun to his head, gets caught up in the spirit of competition and does quite a bit of running. I've been so proud of them every time we've done a meet together.
|J checking out the big map during the orientation talk|
For once, I actually had a route planned when we took off; usually I realize at the start that I have no idea where I'm going first. We opted to go for larger point value controls first and then evaluate our plan after about 30 minutes. Two other teams headed off in the same direction that we did, and they quickly outdistanced us as J faltered running uphill.
|Happy to be out there, and REALLY happy to be walking.|
|All of the controls were easily accessible by road or trail.|
|J playing catch-up on the trail|
|Not as nervous as J was; note the deathgrip on the railing.|
|You can see the tower in the background.|
|Coming up to the trail|
|Even though it meant climbing some hills, the guys hung right with me.|
|Standing water everywhere|
|And kinda deep!|
When we reached the start/finish area, we still had a few minutes left, and there were a couple of low-point controls super close. Another family group was doing the same thing; the son went one way and I went the other, coming out on the sidewalk ahead of him. I managed to stay ahead of the 10ish year old boy all the way to the first control. :) Realizing I had time to get to one more, I sprinted off around the pond. The run back wasn't so fun, but J was waiting for me on the sidewalk. "Daddy's going to get video of us running it in," he told me.
I handed him the passport, and we ran to the finish together. As we neard the shelter, the little twerp turned on the afterburners and tried to leave me in the dust. That was not going to happen, so I sprinted after him. I almost had him, but he cut me off and beat me to the finish line. What he lacks in endurance, he makes up for in strategy.
We hung around waiting for the other teams to come in, and while J was a little disappointed that there weren't snacks afterward like at the regular orienteering meets, he was intrigued when they started announcing winners. Obviously, with me navigating we've never focused on competition with other teams, just on how fun it is to go out and see how you can do...but we'd had a pretty successful outing. We had racked up 61 points worth of controls, and as they started announcing winning scores for the solo men, I started feeling good about our chances of placing.