Isang's Blog/

{January 11, 2010}   Yo me arrastré…I crawled


Yesterday, por el Domingo, I went on my first mountain bike ride in Guanajuato.  Valo, an employee at the bike station, el me dijo que saldríamos en 8 por la mañana, (he told me we would leave at 8 in the morning) but in Guanajuato, being tarde, late, is actually quite common and ok. So there I sat until 8:30, and finally they all showed up (they as in 10 unexpected guys to accompany the bike ride). The youngest one, Noa, kept me company as the group prepared for the ride. A 17 year old mountain biker competitor, Noa told me that he was a champion in his age group.  “Soy un campeón” he said.   “Aww that’s great ,” I thought, “I’ll be taking a nice little tour with these boys”. Noa told me the route was muy fácil, very easy. Bueno! It was my first day anyways and I didn’t want to do anything to reckless or hard…….

Anyhow, after riding through the city’s streets, we were joined by other riders. The boys just called out when coming upon a turn and sure enough there were more riders speeding out between the cars, catching up with us as we passed. By the time we made it up the first hill near the Northern section of Guanajuato, I started to become a bit puzzled. The road didn’t go around the city, it just went straight to the mountains. Oh…ok, well time for an adventureJ. Todos los chicos told me that it was a very beautiful ride. So there I went…

Hour 2…I was crawling…literally…up the mountain. The altitude in Guanajuato is already 6,000 + ft, and here we were, biking the mountains towards Santa Rosa.  Much later on, after I made it back, I was told we biked up more than 2,000 m. Anyhow, to do the math, it tells me my lungs were not ready for that ordeal. Hour 2 and I was sometimes walking with the bike, sometimes on my knees to get over a major hill. My legs and arms were cramping, I got light headed at some parts, and I couldn’t really suck in air properly. Pero los chicos were incredible. Not only did they patiently wait for me to make each hill (slowly…very slowly), sometimes they sent one another down to push me up on my bike. Por ejemplo, we were at hour 3 into the mountains. Los chicos encouraged me to keep eating potassium while we biked. Noa, lalo o valo would come back on their bikes, yell “equipo” y “¡si! ¡Tu puedes!” and would somehow not only bike this steep hill, but push me on my bike to the next flat level.  What first caused me embarrassment soon became inspiration. No one spoke English, nor did they want too since earlier I said I needed to learn Spanish. Pero, I understood the basics of their conversations, and pretty much it’s a universal thing in the sports world “es importante que usted termine” it’s important that you finish. I didn’t know where the finish was, nor did I comprehend where we were until after, but I chose to kept going.

Aside from the pain and hardship of the ride, there was much to appreciate. Guanajuato was just one city we overlooked on our journey up. In the mountain community cerca de Santa Rosa, we stopped for supplies (aka burritos!) and Gatorade. It was beautiful. God I wish I brought my camera. We passed numerous lakes and through beautiful mountain forests. In Santa Rosa, the community roads were all cobblestone. Over them passed magnificent horses. After eating and getting stretched out by Lalo, we continued up the summit. One of the horses was trotting along near us and all of a sudden, un perro came running out barking and chasing it. Of course the boys got riled up and joined in the chase with their bikesJ.  Where they got that energy…well, it’s because I soon found out that 5 of them were professional competitors in Mexico. Bueno. It made sense after we reached the top of the mountain and they told me this. Easy for them is a century or more of bike mileage.  And easy for them is the way back down…

So I made it to the top. I already fell over twice because I found myself on rocky ground and couldn’t clip out fast enough from the pedals to save my balance (but every time I received applause lol). Es normale. Now was the time to have fun…going down incredibly steep slopes. Los chicos loved this part. They raced each other down narrow paths that I thought would only hold one, pushing each other playfully as they jumped over rocks and fallen branches. One small quiet boy accompanied me on the way down. I didn’t get the braking down right away, and so I kept sliding whenever I pulled on the brakes to stop going down to fast. He kept telling me, I think, to pull slightly on the brakes. Of course…being a beginner at this, I reacted differently to losing control over speed.

My best moment was going over the cliff, or by definition, a near vertical slope. We had to make a sharp right turn after picking up speed on one slope, and there were many rocks on the path. I pretty much panicked when I started going way too fast into the turn and so slammed on the back brake really hard. My back wheel skidded underneath me, I slowly lost balance and fell to the side. Unfortunately that all happened right at the cliff edge so I went over… Well, there was a steep slope, and there were branches and brush so I pretty much was hanging out on the edge caught in everything until the little boy came to grab me by the arm and pull me up, bike and all (I was stuck to the bike because of the clipless pedals).  Both of us laughing, he said again ¡cuidado¡, and we kept going. I know…this sport can appear pretty reckless, but the thrill is worth it.

The last 20 miles went smooth. You know in the E.T. movie where the boys on bikes are getting chased by the cops over the dirt hills and through the neighborhood? Imagine that scene but with a bit more nature and no cops. These boys were racing each other down the big dirt roads and jumping over the banks. How they do that… I guess I’m going to learn since they keep saying “tu aprendarás”. They dodged cows in the road, even slapped them in passing. I had only one incident in where I almost hit a dog, but in slamming the back brake again managed to do a 180 and ended up close enough to pet it. I yelled out to the Mexican family “me gusta tu perro” and quickly biked away from their angry gazes lol. Getting back into the city, we hung onto trucks, rode behind cars and dodged people. I felt like a rebel making all this ruckus.  We made it back to the starting point and I got slaps on the back…cien miles!! Como? In broken English, “We were 100 miles…vas a dormir bueno”…oh…wow…yupJ

So here I am today, kind of house ridden. When I walk, I look like a penguin, and making it up and down the stairs is quite difficult. Two big bumps on my legs, cuts on my arm, and one great adventure down in Guanajuato. In class people kept asking how and where I did it. From there I made some new bike companions since they too want to try going out of the city with their bikes. Bueno. Necesito dormir ahora but glad I could get this out of my system before passing out. I’ll definitely be ready for road biking after this experience. ¡Hasta luego!

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