Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ATV meet VTT

While walking around our neighborhood, I have been noticing arrows spray-painted on the ground and the letters VTT. Mary Ann informed me that VTT is the French acronym for mountain biking. Now I was excited. I had briefly taken up mountain biking while living near Washington, DC, but the flat lands of Chicago had tamped that hobby. It was time to get back on the trails.

So with unusually cool weather (and I still mean above 75ºF) I decided to go for it yesterday. Without any maps, I put my faith in the painted rocks. The trail started off innocently enough. A steady accent through the vineyards brought me to a beautiful lookout over the Rhone River and Mount Ventoux. On July 25th, the Tour de France will scale the imposing mountain in the second to last - and potentially deciding - stage of the race. A fitting parallel to my own biking adventure, I thought.

Then another ascent, this time up a steep rock-laden path, was too much for me to power through. Anyone have advice for that kind of climb. Even in very low gears, my tires were spinning on all the loose stones. I had no choice but to walk most of the distance to a clearing.

At this point I was presented with a fork in the road. The blue and white markers pointed one way, yellow and pink the other. I had to make a decision; what colors mean easy or difficult in France. I opted for the blue and was rewarded with a swift if not overly technical descent of maybe a hundred yards. I quickly learned to fear the overgrown thorny vines that ripped across my exposed bicepts. (Note, I did not say my ripped bicepts)

Continuing along for almost an hour, I enjoyed alternating climbs and descents. It was a challenge to stay on the labeled path since the painted signs had been weathered over time. At one point, I veered onto a path and my blue dots disappeared. So this is what the pink trail would be like, I thought. Not a good thing. Seconds later, I was jumping off my bike, scantly avoiding an inclined tree trunk. Despite several personal pep talks, I had to walk most of the short trail. Note to self: buy a helmet.

After over an hour and a half on the trails, I was exhausted. I followed a paved vinyard access path around le Château de Gicon and back down to Chusclan. The high speed descent was thrilling and a welcome reprive from the tough inclines. A day later, I'm feeling confident enough to challenge the VTT trails again... with a little more safety equipment.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm flashing back to mountain biking before your wedding, when Dennis bit it 20 feet from the end of the trail and literally rolled out of the woods. Man Down!


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