...but I had come so far and as the week wore on I couldn't bear to write it off, so on Thursday afternoon with drops of rain on the windshield, I grabbed a rental bike and headed east into the mountains to see what the heck might happen.
Rental bike: powder-blue Specialized Rockhopper with hydraulic brakes, X.0 tranny, and the oh so cool Specialized “brain” running the rear suspension.I was encouraged as I drove through 4,000 feet and the clouds began to thin. By the time I arrived at the trailhead in the mountains, it was a perfectly blue sky and temps in the high 60s. And here I was with my gear and a demo bike at the bottom of Noble Canyon. Things were looking up, literally!
|Turnaround at the halfway point|
…well 22% looks pretty intimidating. But that was nothing – nothing – compared to the exposure on parts where the road chiseled into the mountain side. The fun factor was wearing off quickly - even though I was driving a tiny subcompact rental it felt like I was at least 2’ wider than the road and about to topple 1,000 feet over the edge (no guard rail) to a dramatic demise in the canyon below. So I found a turn around and sheepishly made my way back down the trailhead to fuel up, saddle up, and ride back up the service road under my own power to find the renowned Nobel Canyon trail.
I was in granny gear most of the way and once I found my rhythm, I was able to take in my surroundings and even managed to hear the birds overhead between gasps for air. The vistas were incredible both looking up (almost 2,000’ of climbing) and looking down (the ride started at 3,700’). And I will never forget a downright scary hornet’s nest with a huge swarm hovering at the entrance - I immediately went anaerobic in the granny gear in order to get some quick separation.
|Alpine meadow near the top|
I had planned 3 hours for the climb, but after 90 minutes of climbing (from 3,700’ to 5,400’) I found the top of the storied Noble Canyon trail. I took a break for lunch (powerbar), drank in the incredible view, then clipped in and began the descent for which I had worked so hard.
|Cactus on the left, nasty fall on the right|
|Cattle gate at the bottom|
"Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for one more ride."