Back to Michaux MTB School

I woke up to my cat barfing on me only to discover that we had no hot water. It was raining outside, making me a little apprehensive about the weekend and doubtful of my plans to get to Michaux early for a ride before the Michaux MTB School officially kicked off that evening. I spent the morning debating buying rain pants and boots as the forecast was looking nearly worst case for the weekend. Three big ride weekends in a row with perfect weather and neatly dodging snow storms, and my luck had finally run out. The only thing left to do would be to suck it up and make the most of the rain.

Photo by Jamie Yoder

Photo by Jamie Yoder

After packing nearly every jacket and layer that I own, I was finally off, and glad to discover that both Diane and Jamie were running as behind schedule as myself. By the time I got to PA, the sky had cleared and the weather was lovely. The three of us had a great ride, only to discover a hidden “No Bikes” sign as we were leaving the trail. When we got back to camp, we found Evelyn who had done the afternoon skills session, and we headed out to some Italian restaurant that her and Diane swore was only a few minutes away.

After more than a few minutes, we pulled into an Italian restaurant. They had a brief argument over whether or not it was the right place even though there was obviously nothing else around, and then we went next door to the Mexican restaurant. We ended up shopping for piles of goodies in the attached grocery store after diner, making us quite late for the camp kick-off and ice breakers.

Saturday morning, it looked like the rain would hold off long enough to at least get on our bikes. The women split into two groups. I went with Sue Haywood to work on skills in the morning, and after lunch I went with Cheryl Sornson to ride. The rain was picking up, but the trails were in great shape, and my new rain jacket was working exactly as a rain jacket should. We rode Vista trail, which stuck in my memory from last year as having some really difficult spots. I was really hoping to head back to some of these trails and find them much less intimidating. Success! Vista Trail was a lot better this time around. I rode sections that I walked last year, and it really didn’t seem that bad–even in the rain–which was a huge confidence boost.

The group on Vista Trail. Turns out that it's nearly impossible to look stylish in the rain. - Photo by Liz Spencer

The group on Vista Trail. Turns out that it’s nearly impossible to look stylish in the rain. – Photo by Liz Spencer

Throughout Saturday night, the rain continued to pick up, and the campground turned into a giant squishy sponge that was spotted with lakes that were growing by the hour. Sunday morning, we were all surprised when Zach came out and said we were riding. We all thought that the day would be a washout for sure. About half of the overall group bailed on the day’s ride. Not only was it raining, but it was also cold. My car said 35 degrees when I left. Had I known it was that cold, I may have bailed as well.

But without my trusty  updates, I had no idea how bad the weather really was, so I headed out with Harlan Price and Ryan Fawley’s group. The rain grew heavier and there was even some sleet. The fire roads were flooded but the trails were surprisingly totally fine. I was wearing about as many layers as a person could wear and it was still seriously cold. After we climbed up the mountain I warmed up, but still worried that I might spontaneously freeze into an ice block despite my best efforts to stay warm. If our group could have somehow tuned our wet disc brakes to squeal in harmony, we could have formed the first ever descending mountain bike band.

Photo by Liz Spencer

Photo by Liz Spencer

Overall, it was a great weekend, and I’m glad I went back for the second year in a row. I felt like I was able to absorb more of the skills session than I did last year and better apply it on the trails that same day. It was also really motivating to see improvement from last year. And once again, this camp was a pretty inspiring experience for me, as it is so great to meet new people and share a passion. Growing my circle of friends to include more like-minded women across the region has really been one of my favorite parts of this experience over the past two years.

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