Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sean and Abel's Near Death Ride

**Story courtesy of NFL Network's Shawn Baden*****

Hey Chris! Here is a story for your blog if you want it.

Abel and I had an awesome ride Sunday. It was raining but hey, we are men after
all. We drove over to Towsley Cyn but the park was closed due to "treacherous"
conditions- yeah, what ever. Apparently our park services are fair weathered
people. We drove over to San Fernando road instead to ride up the fire road and
maybe down into the Nature Center. The rain was pouring down on us already as we
were getting our gear on. We hopped on the fire road and headed up the hill.
After 50 feet our tires had so much mud on them that they wouldn't even turn. I
start having second thoughts at this point but Abel is smirking and lifting his
bike up over his shoulders for the 1/4 mile hike-a-bike ahead of us. My 28 lb
bike now weighs 48 lbs and my shoes have gathered so much mud they look like
dirty Bozo the Clown shoes.

We finally hike up to a point where the mud has been replaced by a sort of pea
gravel. We do the best we can to remove the mud from around the tires, off the
chain and off of our shoes. After fighting to get my chain back on we press
forward up the 4 mile climb to the summit hoping we don't encounter anymore mud.
It continued to rain and the wind picked up as we rode up into the clouds. At
one point I realized that even though I was soaked to the bone I was actually
sweating. Abel asked me how I could tell. I just laughed - to be honest I'm not
quite sure how I could tell.

4 miles later we reach the summit. The moment of truth has arrived! Do we turn
tail back to the car or do we press on? Trying to compose myself and trying not
too look like a pussy, I stand there with rain dripping down my forehead waiting
to see what Abel is going to say. He only asks, "So what do you want to do?" I
can't very well say, "my knees ache, I'm cold, I'm wet and I want a hot shower"
- that would be like shouting out to the world, "Hey, I'm 40 something!" So I
suck it up and we head down the Nature Center trail. Abel has assured me that we
only have to forge a small section of trail that has been washed out- he road
the trail the day before after all. The single track down into the Nature Center
was awesome. We avoided puddles, ruts that had been worn into the trail, rocks
that had fallen from the hillside, a tree that had fallen over the trail and
believe it or not a couple of hikers. We had to stop at one point to let our
fingers defrost.

I hear the sound of water getting louder and louder as we ride down into the
canyon - this can't be good. We hop off our bikes to cross a fairly deep but
narrow stream. That wasn't too bad, I think to myself as we get back on our
bikes. We round the next turn and my jaw drops. The Colorado River is tearing
through the trail and laughing at us as it washes away the mountain. There we
stand in the rain and for a moment the thought of riding all the way back up
that single track to the summit actually seemed like a viable option. We shake
off the shock and see that we might be able to squeeze by if we do a little bit
of rock climbing. Bikes back on our shoulders we make our way around this rock
wall trying to hold onto saplings growing out of the cracks in the rock. Finding
it difficult to carry the bikes on our shoulders while trying to hold onto the
rock we drop the bikes to our side and try to keep them out of the water as much
as possible. I see Abel's bike go under all the way to the seat post at one
point as I try to keep my cranks above water. We catch the trail again as it
makes its way back under the roaring water only to find that after all that work
the river crosses the trail again and this time there is no way around. We have
to forge the river. Able picks up his bike, heaves it over his shoulder and
begins to cross. In the middle of the 10 foot crossing the water is midway up
his thigh and he realizes that the water is moving faster than it looks. Not
sure why but thoughts of the Rio Grande crossed my mind. :) Abel trips on a
rock and falls forward. "oh shit, he's going in." I begin to leap forward to
grab his bike hoping that he holds onto it as he catches his footing and gets
out the other side of the river. I want no part of crossing this raging wall of
water. If it looked like it was 10 feet wide it now looked as if 100 feet
separated Abel and I. Images of me being consumed by this wicked mass of muddy
water rushed through my mind as real as the water itself that flowed before me.
Able puts his bike down and reaches across to grab mine as I stand mid-thigh in
freezing cold water, bike on my shoulders. After he gets my bike to the opposite
shore he offers a hand. I grabbed it and jumped to the other side. There we
stood... soaked. Our shoes were now wet all the way through and our feet were
numb. "That is the last time we have to cross," Abel assures me. We get on our
bikes once again and not even 50 feet down the trail there is that damn river
again slicing the trail in half. I give Abel a look of disgust and he just
grins. The river is now twice as wide as the last crossing. Luckily the river
was shallow at this point and we were able to cross with much less effort. We
had now crossed the river for the final time, made our way to the Nature Center
and to the road.

Have you ever had an 18 wheeler pass you in the rain? That was me heading back
to the car.

Man, that was a great ride! I would do it again in a heart beat! Next time I
will remember to bring a camera.


At 9:09 PM, Blogger Vegas said...

AWESOME WRITE UP, Sean. Sounds like a real adventure!


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