It was bound to happen. It was only a matter of time. Before each decent my stoker whispers to me "don't crash me!" Yet our speed grows as our confidence grows. Today the limit was reached. That self calibrating function that occurs when gravity, speed, and a small miscalculation combine to form a rather abrupt stop that can only be caused by flesh on dirt. The good news - no injury to bike or riders.
In last June's post, El Conquistador de Montanas, I described the vehicle of our passion. A Ventana full suspension off-road tandem that has consumed the majority of our riding over the past year. We still ride the road tandem and our single mountain bikes from time to time, but the El Conq is the favorite. As our skills increased so does the speed. We are able to ride most of the trails in the area, but our favorite is the "Hard Guy" trail as it is built for wide open speed with a 2500 ft descent.
Today our route was a bigger loop heading up Rocky Canyon, across the Boise Ridge, and then dropping down onto the Hard Guy trail. This is about 3 hours of steady riding for the 30 mile loop with about 4000 feet of climbing. Two hours in we started down the Hard Guy trail. Our friends Doug and Gary riding their single bikes followed as they usually cannot keep up with us on this descent. Karyn suggested that we might want to take it easy as we had been pushing the limit as of late. She thought that with Doug and Gary following I might be inclined to push it a bit more than normal. What? A male ego interfering with my judgment? How could that be? I agreed to ease off a bit.
Just a few minutes down the trail we entered a steep, dark, tree covered section with a rut in the bottom. The key is to ride one side of the rut and then cross to the other side in a deliberate move, crossing back over before the clean exit. All was well through the first few moves, but then I realized that the exit was no longer clear. A new foot deep rut had been carved by a recent storm. It wasn't there last weekend. I tried to stay up on the right side of this rut, but as ruts often do this one sucked in the front tire of the tandem. If our momentum was 100% aligned with the rut it wouldn't have been a problem, but our forward momentum also had a right to left motion to it. The result is that the bike came to an abrupt stop, similar to tripping while walking. While the bike stopped, I did not. I flew away from the bike landing in a sage bush just as I somersaulted over and back up onto my feet. A perfect no injury landing. Unbelievable. The dynamics of a crash are different for a stoker. Karyn rode the bike to the ground landing in the soft sand that had eroded from the rut. It was all very impressive. We dusted ourselves off, picked up the gear that had flown from our pockets, checked out the bike, and all was well. Needless to say the rest of our descent was much more constrained.
I wish I could say that this will or even could be the last time, but as most people who ride know, "there are those who have crashed and those who will". Crashing is one of the risks of the type of riding we do. In 17 years of riding tandems we have only crashed 5 times.