Monday, February 13, 2012

Mountain biking the cowboy trail for the first time.

Its already been three years since my first ride in the Nevada Desert. I posted up on a mountain bike site to find out where would be a good place to go on my next trip to vegas. As luck would have it a guy from a motorcycle site who lived in vegas messaged me recognizing my User Name, he would refer me to what is known as the Cowboy trail. It is an advanced trail which at the time I didnt want to say "no I suck really bad give me something easier" so I just said thank you with male ego and headed off early in the morning, heading only one piece of advice "Carry an extra tube" which I did thankfully.
I would get up at four and start hydrating myself as it was summer in Vegas so temps would hit 100 fairly early in the morning, my plan was to be on the trail  by seven at the latest (factoring in get lost finding the area time). For some strange reason before I left the house I had a very strong urge to take my Gerber multi tool which was laying on the table, I fought it thinking it was just extra weight but gave in to paranoid instinct and tossed it in my pack.
The trail was easier to find than I suspected and my get lost time was cut significantly, within minutes I was off riding the famed cowoboy trail, rolling over bunches of horse poo I discovered where its name must have originated. I would find that the first part of the climb was a bit intimidating with some smaller drops and lots of rock outcropping far beyond my current level of climbing ability so the bike would be hauled up the majority of that hill. The sun was already out and I could feel temperatures rising quickly, but I was still not to worried I had filled my Hydration pack to its max of 60oz surely along with my belly full of water that would be enough to achieve the roughly eight mile ride to the top.
I took my time my eyes wearily focusing on the cacti along the trail, their needles threatening instant pain to whomever happened to fall up on one, I will pass thank you. I scanned the rocks and trail for snakes that would begin to move out soon and I didnt feel like rolling over a groggy rattler.
I stopped often for a photo shoot giving myself plenty of time to rest and of course take in a completely different style of riding than I was used to. The trail was fairly foreboding and I spent a good amount of time hauling my bike over obstacles that later I would be able to conquer with a few hundred more miles under my belt.
I found the trails to be poorly marked and merely pointing to the trail which looked like it was headed in the most direct line to the top not being optimal to say the least. I would end up doing a fair amount of backtracking cursing not paying closer attention to the writing on the statelands posts. The only real bonus being these trails did not have as much difficulty as the main trail and I was able to actually ride rather than hike a bike. After I found my way back to the main trail I would manage to roll over a small cacti at the bottom of a small rock shelf. At four and a half miles in would be my first experience with a flat since I was a child, and with the sun beating down and sweat pouring into my eyes I would fiddle fuddle around until I got my back wheel off and began the task, damn IM thirsty more water being sucked down, god its hot but there was no shade to be found save if I was to dig a hole beneath a cactus and crawl in. My mouth seemed to get dry with every second and the damn bicycle rim was even hot to the touch, this was getting ridiculous, to make matters worse a good quarter of my tire was penetrated by cacti needles, good thing I had brought along the Gerber.
I ended up turning the tire inside out to pull the needles, my mouth seemed to get dryer with each needle removed. Finally my task completed and my tattered useless tube tucked in my backpack I would simply put on the tire and move on. Ahh but to be so simple, because of the heat and being turned inside out the tire had stretched and simply fell over  the rim. I blinked unable to comprehend what had just happened, no way in hell, I looked to see if I could see the truck I couldnt, what the hell could I do. I checked my Hydration pack and it was already almost empty, holy cowbooza's this wasnt good, I was not looking forward to packing my bike four plus miles out in the already 100 degree heat. I cursed and messed with the tire some more, as minutes past it almost seemed to shrink, I resolved to pump it up anyhow and hope that if I nursed it down the trail it would slowly shrink and at least stay on the rim enough with the aid of the tube to get me out.
With the last drop of water finding its way thru my hydration tube I headed down the trail, my helmet cam on to record the events for search and rescue when they would find my expired body, it was important of course to record your senseless ride for rescuers as if they will care.
So off I went, my neck burning from the sun slowly burning away the top layer of skin I would ride over drops and other obstacles that I normally would have to carry the bike over. I felt like I was damned near shredding the trail only having to carry the bike a couple of times before I got back to the truck.
My head would be pounding from dehydration and  valuable lessons learned, one take more water than you think you need, take less time with photo ops, leave earlier, and dehydration and desperation makes me into one hell of a rider.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! I will be riding cowboy trails this weekend for the first time. I'll make sure to take plenty of water, and an extra tube just in case :)