Pain, Pennance, and Ritual Bloodletting in the Church of the Eternal Burn

The long Memorial Day weekend called for a ride, but many of the regular MTB crew were off-island or otherwise unavailable, leaving Ckucke, Root, and I to carry the torch and get some trail time. The weather forecast called for the chance of rain on Saturday, but good weather for Sunday and Monday. We decided on doing the Wailuna circuit on Sunday. The predicted rains didn’t come until after long after sunset, but early Sunday morning was perfectly clear. By ride time, some disconcertingly heavy clouds had closed in, but we were “go” unless the sky really opened up and all kinds of unpleasantness broke loose. The rain held off, but the heat and humidity were definitely turned way up the dial. The road climb felt more brutal than last week, and the dirt climb went far slower. I was not feeling on the game. I hadn’t downed excessive beers the night before, but I felt hungover, and my guts were unsettled. My legs weren’t sore, but the burn came on really fast and the power level was just not there. Root was feeling the heat. The trail conditions were outstanding: The rain had stiffened up what had been a loose surface the weekend before.

At the top, Ckucke’s secret wish to go left down the Mystery Hills route was granted when Root said that he wouldn’t mind going down that way. The last time we had gone this way with Kevyn and Chris, the trail had recently been groomed, but nearly a year had passed since then, and the evil ‘uluhe ferns had a chance to creep back in across the trail. The descent was slow and painful. The tendrils clogged our drivetrains, grabbed our handlebars, and tore at our skin. The ferns were still wet enough to moisten our tires, legs, and brake discs as we passed through. Cold, wet brakes squealed and slipped down mystery grown-in steeps! Front tires went slamming into unseen mystery roots across the trail below the fern cover! Riders went tumbling over the bars at surprise mystery drop-ins! Fun! The moisture on our legs allowed the blood to flow freely in drips from the ends of the fern-torn flesh.

There was a brief feeling of relief when we reached the open area above windy trees and we traversed over to the powerline poles. For a moment, the trail was open and without ferns. Ckucke climbed nearly the entire moonscape, but lost traction at the very top. The elation of riding in a fernless environment was quickly dashed as we entered even thicker ferns atop the ridge! I found a guava stump hidden in the ferns. The bottom of said stump went between the frame and left crank, stopping the bike. The punji-like machete-mangled top found my left knee, stopping it, but allowing my forward momentum to carry my body forward, hyperextending the joint. The trail opened up briefly when we entered the swamp gum forest, but closed in a little along the contour leading out. Once out onto the ridgetop, the trail became reasonably open, so we were able to enjoy the “reward” section of sweeping descending turns to the fenceline.

We dropped the left after the bathtub and descended into the ravine. Ckucke power-wheelied into a back-slam while trying to ride up the steep leading out of the streambed. The rest of the climb out was littered with deadfall, but the contour cut after was smooth albeit a little grown in and laced with cobwebs. The brief easy pedaling section transitioned into the final cruel, evil ascent climbing out of the valley back to water tank road. This grueling grind took whatever remaining life we had out of us. The descent back down the road to the park was all gravity.

Pictures here

D = 21.11 km (8.09-miles), Vavr = 7.8 km/h (4.9-mph), Vmax = 49.7 km/h (30.9-mph), T = 1-hour, 40-minutes (actual trail time approximately 4-hours)

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