So today, I took my wife to the next level of trail systems for a beginner rider. It is called Sylaward trails at Lake Howard in Sylacauga AL. I also convinced my best buddy Mike to join us for some fun conversations and a post ride brewski.
I had mistakenly recalled about 11 or 12 miles of total distance. Well, that was slightly off. The trails start out with a fairly challenging climb. Immediately, Lesilie was ready to throw in the towel. We talked her into pushing her bike up the nastier spots to the top of the ridge where these trails become a wonderful roller-coaster of buttery smooth single-track. It is essentially 3-4 smaller loops that are all linked together. Lesilie did amazing, the whole ride she was picking up speed and I could tell her confidence level was increasing with every mile. The last big loop, called Bill’s Creek is about 3.5 miles long with a pretty sustained climb toward the end, remember she is a newbie on a Single-Speed. Both Mike and Lesilie were getting very tired at this point and Lesilie had run out of fluids. She was starting to get sloppy with her minimalist new riding skills. I kept glancing over my shoulder to make sure she was still close to see the “lines” that I was picking. I happened to look back at just the right moment to watch her wheels flip over her body and careen down a steep embankment. Frantically bailing off my bike, I ran back to see her precariously grappling a small tree with her bike sitting vertically upside down. I asked her “What did you do?” She responded with “Pole-Dancing”. Amazingly, she was completely unscathed aside from nervousness.
We then took it fairly slowly back toward the end of that loop. The final couple miles include a fairly large damn that we cross. Tall grass on both sides. As you can imagine, I was in the front going pretty quickly down to the start of the damn and I ran right over a huge snake. Probably 5 feet in length and had a similar pattern to a cottonmouth. I immediately stopped to warn Les and Mike. Being from New England, I am still amazed by these creatures. I was able to get him to slither off to one side. Just as he cleared the trail, his buddy, an equally long black snake came from the same spot and crossed the other way. Whoa… time to vacate the area.
After the snakes, Lesilie pretty much lost focus and her confidence. She was really thirsty and getting delirious. The temperature was up to about 88 degrees. The last mile or so she was pushing her bike. I made a mad dash back to the trailhead to get our last bottle of water. Made it back to her and Mike and we were able to ride back together.
Post ride Turkey sandwich that Lesilie made was amazing. She is making huge leaps in progress and we are having a wonderful time enjoying this “new” sport together. Oh yeah, ended up being 16+ miles.