A few weekends ago, Dad and I rode at Fort Yargo with the Zombie Camels Mountain Bike group and the Sorella Women’s Cycling club. Smush ’em together and you get the Zombrellas!
The Zombie Camels are fun group of mountain bikers that Dad and I have ridden with many times, Dad more so than me. Our last trip to Tsali was with the Zombie Camels. However, this was my first time riding with the Sorella ladies. Lara, who is a member of both groups, organized the event, sending out an open invitation to whoever wanted to come.
It was brrrrr, chilly cold when I woke up on Sunday. I grabbed my favorite flannel pajama pants from high school and my new favorite down puffy to wear during the drive. Once at my parents, I put on my warmest cycling clothes: my long tights and wonderful orange microfleece jersey. I used to wear that jersey to school because it is so soft!
Dad and I drove into cycling parking lot at Fort Yargo, looking for our people. We took one of the last few parking spots and hopped out to get our gear ready. And by that I mean, Dad spoils me by taking my bike down (to be fair, I can’t actually reach it on top of his car), putting the front wheel on, checking the tire pressure, and oiling the chain. Thanks Dad!
Ef teased me about being all snuggled up in my warm jacket, but it was cold! I was not taking my jacket off until I had to. After our bikes were ready, I wandered over to wait in the sun. There, I was finally warm enough to take off my jacket and don my hydration pack. As we were organizing into groups, it even warmed up enough for me to take my lightweight windbreaker off too, so that I rode just in my microfleece top. Getting up that morning, I was afraid that I was in for a very cold ride with frozen fingers and toes; I was pleasantly surprise at the wonderful riding weather. A little cold for standing in the shade, but perfect for when I was working hard while riding.
As we gathered around, I saw just how big of a group we really were. I think there were about 35 of us. We broke off into two groups: A and B. Group A was the fast group, riding 8 mph or faster, led by Lara. She is super fast! Group B was everybody else. Mike led and Dad sweeped, making sure that no one got lost or left behind.
I started out towards the middle of Group B. Usually, when we ride with a group, I am the slowest, or one of the slowest riders. I was doing alright and encouraged a few people to go around me on the hills, but man, was I feeling it! I’ve been riding fairly consistently, though not regularly, at about once every other week. I am by no means fast, yet I can usually rely on my endurance and just spin. This ride though, I was struggling. I think some of it had to do with the fact that I was sick most of the week prior. Or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
When it came time to decide whether I wanted to ride the Monster Mile or not, I wisely chose not. Dad led a large group of riders through the Monster Mile, while I rode up the long, but gradual and non-technical climb to the merge point. There I waited with a handful of other riders. It was nice chatting with them while we waited for the rest of our group.
My triumph of the day was making it up a hill when the two riders in front of me did not. Let me explain. I had been struggling and generally feeling weak and tired. Two riders ahead of me were nice women who had passed me on hills several times prior. How they kept getting behind me in the first place I’m not sure; I guess when we stopped to regroup and got started again. Anyways, we were coming up on a hill that Mike warned everyone about because there were quite a few people who hadn’t ridden at Yargo before. The trail dips down, crosses a small wooden platform, rises steeply, takes a sharp left turn, and continues to climb. I knew what to expect, so as we came closer, I hung back from the riders in front of me. I flew down the hill, over the platform, and used my momentum to propel me up the steep slope on the other side. I zoomed past the two ladies ahead of me, who didn’t make it all the way up the steep section, and continued to ride strong to the top of the hill. I suspect that the two women I passed had stopped because they were confused about where the trail went, but still. Mostly, it felt nice conquering that hill and feeling strong after riding it, especially since I didn’t feel that way most of the ride.
Despite struggling and even walking parts of the trail that I normally ride, I had a great time. I really enjoyed riding with the group and meeting new people, especially other women that mountain bike. I don’t know very many that do, and even fewer that are my age! There was another girl, Mary, who rode with us. She seemed to be around my age. I wanted to chat with her when we finished riding, but she disappeared before I had a chance. Oh well, maybe next time.
After we packed up, Dad and I said our goodbyes. If there is another Zombrella ride nearby, expect to see me there!