Last Saturday, I signed up to do a trail riding event with Long Island Trail Riding Conservancy (LIRTC) the following morning. They hold fund raising events where motorcyclists can come and enjoy a day of safe, legal trail riding. Being able to legally ride in the woods here on Long Island is a near impossibility, so I was excited to get my feet wet without having to head off of the Island.
Kenny was busy doing a construction project at our house. That meant he needed our cargo van. That also meant if I wanted to go to this event, I had to ride there.
When I left the house on Sunday morning, it was 44 degrees and slightly overcast. I was dressed in a wicking shirt, a t-shirt and a lightweight vest underneath my Marsee textile jacket. I also had on a pair of Marsee textile pants, my off-road helmet and my Sidi Crossfire boots.
Lonely Loser – Party of One
As I rolled into the parking area I felt acutely alone. You know that nerd at a party who looks like they don’t know what to do with their hands as they stand around looking awkward? That was me.
As families and groups of friends milled around the parking area, I parked the DRZ and headed towards the sign-in table. Having ridden to the event, I had no place to stow some of my riding gear. The gear that was far too heavy and hot for this event.
I’m Going In
After the riders meeting, I mustered up a little squeak of courage and headed in to the trails. As I entered the trail head and rolled about 10 feet past the trail boss he shouted, “hey, hey wait!” I thought to myself, oh man. Now what did I do? “Hey, your tailpack is open!”
Ugh, I am a complete knob.
I rode into the trail alone. At the time, I felt good about that because I didn’t have to worry about having to get myself out of anyone’s way and I could just concentrate on getting through the ride.
This being my first time, I had no idea what to really expect. I supposed I thought I would be doing something a little more lazy and meandering. Instead it was what I’d look for on a tarmac road – small and serpentine, winding it’s way through the trees. I putt-putted along moving more slowly than was probably called for. I didn’t feel scared, I just didn’t feel confident. Within the first 5 minutes the inevitable happened. I grabbed the front brake and bang, I dumped my bike in a left hand turn.
After the Fall
I got myself up and looked around. Still alone and feeling like an ass, I squatted down and tried to get a good spot to lift the bike up. The first couple shoves were unsuccessful. I managed to get myself in a good position and lifted the bike up off it’s side. I got it started and got moving again. So that was it. I popped my cherry. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. But, being completely overdressed for the occasion, I found myself sweating.
I wobbled my way through the trail only falling once more on that loop. I came out and shed my vest, drank a Gatorade and went back through the trails a few more times. I didn’t feel like I made any progress with each loop. Each time I hit the deck, I left a little more of my confidence behind. I found myself wishing Kenny was there to give me a little pep talk. I needed a hug and an ‘atta girl’.
My last trip through I did a proper faceplant on a downward facing slope. I slingshotted my way to the ground and wound up with my wheels angled up the banking, front wheel facing down the slope and with my right foot firmly wedged between the gas tank and a berm. Have I told you I love my new Sidi boots?
I wriggled myself out from under the bike but I just could not pick it up alone that time. A nice man on a quad helped me pick up the black devil that was clearly trying to kill me. He muttered something like “…big bike for you.”
I rode on and found a nice open, flat spot and took a photo and drank some water. I took a minute or two and tried to collect my thoughts. I felt sweaty, overheated and useless. I would be lying if I said I didn’t come away from my experience feeling defeated and low. I tried my best but,.. I sucked! I was totally discouraged.
What I Learned
The whole ride home I tried to think about all of the things I did wrong and how I would need to work towards correcting them for next time.
- Dressing properly is of the utmost importance. ATGATT also means the right gear for the situation.
- The tire pressure you ride in on isn’t the right pressure for the trails – but I don’t know what is!
- Having a home base or vehicle at the event would’ve been a smarter way to go.
- Having a buddy probably helps morale.
- Hydration is key.
- Keep those eyes up!
- EASY on the front brake!
- Moving too slow can work against you.
I’m hoping that next time I do more things right than wrong. ::crosses fingers::