My weekend 1500+ mile ride was a hodgepodge of places, terrain, bikes, and people. It started out near the Anza Borrego Desert in San Diego County and travelled as far north as Hell Hole Reservoir in Placer County, California. Most of it I did alone. But, some of the miles I shared with Motocross World Champion Bonnie Warch, and some I shared with the Champion of my world, Jon Baker. From the deserts to the mountains, across dry sand or wet slimy mud, rocky ruts or smooth highway, the important lesson is the same. Know when to go, and know when to say no!
Knowing your own skill level is only of part of the equation to making it safely home. The execution of your skill set varies from day to day, and the time of the day. Make assessments taking into account how tired, hungry, cold, hot, or dehydrated you feel. Also consider how the bike you are on at that moment is matched for the challenge at hand.
Appropriately challenge yourself but don’t yield to self-imposed or peer pressure. Really, I did try to keep up with a motocross champion. Finally, she released me of my pressure by telling me she was trying to keep farther ahead so I could concentrate on my skills and see the trail without eating her dust.
I left Southern California in the early afternoon after a day of riding dirt trails with Bonnie. Pushing myself against the clock to reach home before midnight, I raced through traffic along the white line and rode into the sun. Finally, I realized the bike needed fuel and so did I. Also, I needed to let the sun set and the traffic die down. So, I pulled into a truck stop for fuel and a sanity check. I did make it home safely before midnight to my husband.
After a good night of sleep and a hearty breakfast we had our weekend ride plan hammered out. Saturday I would get a break with a leisure ride on pavement to Mosquito ridge. On Sunday, I wanted to get back on the dirt and practice my skills while things were still fresh in my mind after my training with Bonnie. Sunday we would do an easy dirt ride to Yankee Jim’s and Shirttail Canyon through Forest Hill.
We put in nearly 400 miles over the two days but nothing went as planned on either day. We encountered multiple road closures, one lane traffic diversions, flooded roads, caved in highways, mud slides and complete trail obstructions.
One obstacle we could pass only because we were on dirt bikes. I had to give in to allowing Jon to guide my bike around obstacles for me, or risk impelling sharp objects in to my liver. It was a hard choice, but I gave in to his strength and skill to get me past this obstacle. At least, with his help I felt it was ok to go.
However, when we came upon a water crossing wherein the road was marked closed, I had my doubts. The crossing was wide and the water was rushing in one section. I hung back and watched as my stubborn husband, who could see the bottom decided to cross. I watched as his boots became submerged in the deep water and his bike slipped sideways where the water was rushing. But he made it safely to the other side and waited for me. This time the choice was easy. I said no. For a moment Jon considered crossing back to reach me but he was hesitant to test his luck a second time. Again, I knew the right answer was no. I turned my bike around and headed home alone, refusing to agree that Jon should cross back to join me.
In all of my riding this weekend, I was constantly tested. But the important test was not on skill or ability. It was on the wisdom of knowing when to go, and when to say no.