So it was with surprise and pleasure that I found myself riding much better at Round Valley last Sunday. Again, I don't know why. Maybe I'm just taking longer to ramp up this year and have needed more miles under my wheels to feel comfortable. Maybe I'm shaking loose whatever is in my head. Dunno. But I did feel like I was handling the bike better, putting my foot down less in places I know I can ride ... until I started getting stomach cramps just as we started the Sweet Sixteen climb.
Ugh - I'm pretty sure it was dehydration (which I know better) and I didn't let it stop me, riding up all but the two switchbacks that still elude me, but I was feeling pretty crummy by the time I got to the top where H was waiting for me. On the way down the other side, I drank way more water than I usually do and by the time we got to the paved bike path, my stomach was mostly okay. My legs were a little shaky, however, so I went old-school and rode back to the truck on the paved trail while H hauled ass back on dirt. Amazingly, I beat him by about 45 seconds - he'd been held up behind a couple of other riders just as he reached the end. While he went around the loop again, I drank another bottle of water and read, and by the time he got back for beers and sandwiches, I felt okay. Note to self: don't let that happen again.
Blue skies and sagebrush
The coolest part of our ride was towards the beginning. H was, of course, ahead of me, waiting at a trail junction. I crested a hill and was starting to descend when I jammed on my brakes to let a herd of eight plump mule deer go by, bounding ("stotting") through the sagebrush. They went between me and H, crossed the jeep road and bounced up the hill across from us. Then they all stopped and turned, watching us for a few minutes. When it was clear that we weren't going to follow them, they continued up the hill, single file on a game trail, and disappeared into the brush. Mule deer are common around here but we still find it a treat to see them so close.