Mountain biking has been our go-to sport ever since we had a few epic rides at Big Bend State Park in Texas. We only have one mountain bike between us which is no problem at all since Anna is too little to join us. One of us hikes with her while the other bikes solo and then we swap and compare trail notes later in the day whilst stuffing our faces with Mexican food (so tasty!!).
It was Women’s Day and I had the first ride of the day for team Macdonald. The cooler ride. The one that ends just before the afternoon sun bakes. I began my ascent over the red rocks and took in the view as I climbed. The real fun always starts on the descent for me and the whooping follows shortly out of excitement and also to alert hikers on the same trail. Strangely, the breath taking scenery fades out of consciousness as adrenaline pumps and the mind focuses on immediate obstacles: rocks, tree roots, quick dips, banked turns, and cacti!–real incentives to stay on the bike as much as possible. As I ripped down the track, I was feeling so pumped that I unexpectedly shouted Happy Women’s Day to a lone female hiker with blue hair. I’m certain I looked like a real American badass given the almighty speed I was going when I whipped past her.
These Sedona trails must be second to none, world class riding. I was having the time of my life but my thrill came to a halt once I reached a 4-way junction on the trail. I was fairly certain that I had to take a left hand turn in order to get back to where I started. But, I thought I’d just double check on the GPS before going too far.
I was greeted by a quasi-Euro couple coming from the same left I had wanted to take. “Now you definitely can’t go the way we’ve just come! It’s far too challenging. Are you by yourself?” the woman asked.
“I am. But I’m not far from where I’ve parked.” I said.
“Well, there’s lots of rocks and it’s far too narrow, not to mention steep. There’s cliffs…” and she went on like this while her husband pulls out his paper map to suggest alternate routes.
“If I were you, I’d take this trail here, get on the main road, and that should get you back to the trailhead,” he insisted.
“Okay,” I said. “Thanks.” I began to wonder if I had misjudged my route. Maybe it was too difficult. I wasn’t really up for sliding down a cliff edge. It would really put a damper on the trip. I started to study the GPS once more.
They pressed on, insisting I change my plan since I hadn’t immediately taken their word for it but eventually the woman flipped open her palm and offered her reconsideration to her husband, “Well, I don’t know, maybe she is very skilled and experienced.” She checked my face for clues as she said it. I only smiled which didn’t inform her further. “Well, if you don’t call us before 4pm we will send out a helicopter,” she said in jest and then they were gone.
I was left alone momentarily to contemplate their warning and was relieved to be joined by another mountain biker shortly after. He reassured me. “It’s fine. I did that route yesterday.”
“Are you sure?,” I asked. “Those people just made it sound like I was going to die if I go that way.” He laughed.
Soon after, I set off on my intended left, having chosen his advice over theirs and as I rode off I couldn’t help but wonder if that couple would have advised a male cyclist in the same way. It was Women’s Day after all.
The trail continued with breathing taking vista views. I could see all of Sedona from up there. Rocky rainbow formations in 360-degree perspective and I had it all to myself in a peaceful and reassuring, I-conquered-this kind of moment. I really wish I would have seen that couple again. I would have said, “I did go left and it was the best ride of my life. Happy Women’s Day.”
Here’s a pic of me and my favourite little woman back in Texas on the Mexico border…
…and a pic of my future mountain biking partner.