At the bottom of a steep learning curve

I took a personal day Thursday to take care of really important things go preride the race course for Conquer Castlewood.  Seeing as I've never actually ridden out there, I thought it might be a good idea, and you know how last weekend's attempt went (granted, I was going to ride at a different park, but let's not get too hung up on the details).  The weather forecast through Friday had been full of sunshine, so I was excited to finally have a clear day to ride.

***Speaking of Conquer Castlewood, I was interviewed by a local newspaper about my hopes for the race.  You can read all about my grand ambitions in the Ballwin-Ellisville Patch.***

I woke up to a very overcast sky, but put the chances of precipitation at 10%.  I liked those odds.  After getting J to school, reading a few blogs, and doing some fighting with the new bike rack (first time putting it on my'll get easier, right?), I headed towards Castlewood State Park. It's about an hour away, and forty minutes into the drive raindrops started hitting my windshield.  Really?? I stayed positive since it was just sprinkling and kept driving.

More rain.  I started to turn around a couple of times, but I was practically there.  And the roads weren't that wet. At the upper trails at Castlewood are a nice rocky mix.  With all the tree cover, surely it would be ok to ride there.  By the time I was closing in on the park, the rain was falling steadily.  I went back and forth about turning around. Maybe it'll stop.  Maybe it'll be ok. I'm practically there.  I decided to stop at Qdoba for lunch and re-evaluate the situation after eating.

After eating, it was pouring, so I headed back home, where that b*tch assured me the skies were still clear.  Some sprinkles of rain hit my windshield near the local university trails, but overall she was right.  I felt pretty safe going out to these trails because I knew a semi-local bike shop had hosted a Specialized demo the night before and the trails were supposed to be in good shape.

Those are not my tire marks.  I'm new enough at all this that I don't know the different between OK-to-ride-in mud and you're-gonna-tear-up-the-trails mud, so I played it safe and walked around anything squishy.  There was a lot of trail that was nice and solid, but it was hard to really get going because then you'd come around a turn and have to hop off.  A lot of these spots were at the bottom of an incline, so I got a lot of practice at starting uphill from a dead stop.

I said it was hard to really get going because of the mud, but it was also hard to get going because I'm such a wimp.  It's frustrating.  OK, I haven't been riding very long, but I feel like I should be better--braver--than what I am.  Add to that the fact that my brakes were noisy (squealy...does that mean I need new pads?), so I constantly had the sound of chickensh*t ringing in my ears. 

Overall, there were a few things that went well.  I was out riding, for one.  I managed the switchbacks OK, albeit slowly.  I hopped a couple small logs without incident, and I never once almost pitched myself over the handlebars because I squeezed the brakes too hard. 

On the other hand, I took a dip too slowly and then didn't pedal through it, so I lost momentum before I climbed all the way out.  My bike stopped, I didn't, and I think I've established now that my bike is male, because I have a nasty bruise that only my husband is going to see.

Dirt, not bruise

I rode for about an hour and a half, didn't crash, got a little dirty, and made it out of the woods just as it started to sprinkle.  Not bad for a day's "work".

P.S.  Good luck to my friends Patrick and Jim, who are doing the Berryman 50 mile.  Have "fun", boys! :)


  1. That sucks you drove to Castlewood and had to drive back. At least you got a good ride in.

    You probably don't need new brakes, try cleaning the surface on the rim where the brakes hit and if that doesn't work, get the dirt off the brake pad.

  2. As Mike said.... at least you got a good ride.
    I wouldn't ride on those "roads" but you are SuperKate!!!!
    Have a good week-end.

  3. Actually sounds fun, but then again I have never been accused of being sane. Bravo for getting out there.

  4. The pads squealing means that you need a new bike with disc brakes, right? Tell that to the hubs - it could work.

    I really hate when the weather doesn't cooperate and that seems the norm this year. We are all due for some great weather for it to all even out.

  5. You should come ride in Southern Utah sometime. Slick Rock is one of the world's best bike trails and it is NEVER muddy. Just a little slick.

    But I like to ride the real mountain trails like this one too. And what is with all this rain?!

  6. You truly are Super Kate. Won't stop raining here either.


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