So with the regular mountain biking I’ve been doing, I was feeling pretty good about my ability to keep up with others. Until this evening. I was invited to ride up Roundabout, a beginner trail at Heavenly with a neighbor and some of her friends to see the sunset. It’s a standing Friday night ride, and everyone rides at their own pace up the sandy fireroad to the top of Heavenly’s Groove chair. It’s a little over 1,700 feet of climbing from the Heavenly parking lot within a few painfully long miles. The views at the top are stunning. But the slog to get to it is akin to carrying stones up steep, sandy hills with every step forward resulting in two steps back. And it didn’t help that every single person in tonight’s ride is a ski instructor (at Heavenly, natch), which gives them magical powers riding up this grunt of a hill – I swear none of the broke a sweat and they were all singing the entire way up. I was dead last within 15 seconds, and I was definitely one of the youngest riders.
Truth be told the views on the climb up are breathtaking too, with more of Lake Tahoe visible around every switchback. The problem for me was that I was sweating so hard that I was essentially blinded for most of it. To top it off, I realized 3/4 of the way up that my hamstrings were screaming because I’d not extended my seat all the way – which for non-cyclists, is a sure way to crippling yourself.
The views at the top were lovely, and the descent was a fast fireroad of sand and hard switchbacks (yes, I was last on the downhill too. Call it a well-honed sense of self preservation, and a long-standing love affair with my brakes). But I realized that I am a singletrack aficionado, and while I’d climb that same elevation in a heartbeat on well-cut singletrack, I’m not so sure I’ll ride Roundabout again anytime soon.
But that might just be my sour grapes talking, seeing how I got smoked by a posse of ski instructors tonight.