well, the islamic holy month of ramadaan ended this past friday and there was a planned don valley ride for sunday... i had been itching to get on the bike for quite some time, but being that iíd just fasted for the past month (along with the fact that i hadnít really ridden in about the same amount of time), my conditioning was pretty much shot. but since i knew these guys would be hitting up trails iíve never ridden before, let alone heard of or found, i figured iíd give it a go and see how well i could fair. and boy was i in for one heck of a hard Ė but fun Ė time...
the guys had planned to meet up at 12:30, but i didnít get ready on time and so i left my place kind of late Ė around 12:30 Ė so i was kind of worried that iíd miss the group. i also had to ride down to the trailhead since i donít have a car (that took about 20-30min) and since i didnít have much of a breakfast to begin with, i didnít have too much energy left in reserve by the time i got to the meeting spot (as i was soon to find out).
the bulk of the group had already set out, but i was lucky enough that one of the guys who had planned the ride was waiting behind for another rider who was running a bit late also. when the other rider got there, we set out in hopes of catching up to the lead group. we hit up the northern portion of the don valley trail system (in the north-central don) Ė a part of the valley iíve rarely ridden. we started out on a trail iíve ridden before but never went very far on Ė partially because i thought it ended with a dead end. anyhow, we got to a portion of the trail iíve explored before but thought ended... but this time, because there werenít any leaves to obsruct my view of the trail, i noticed a huge switchback heading up one heck of a steep hill... this was about 5-10mins into the ride.
needless to say, i died on the way up and ended up walking most of it, having to stop every now and then to catch my breath (note to self - next time, wait a while after fasting a whole month and have a good breakfast before attepting a 3 hour killer ride through the don). luckily for me, after that it was pretty much downhill until we caught up to the rest of the guys and i got a chance to rest my legs a bit on the way down. we caught up with the lead group shortly after and then the fun began. we were a good mix of guys, a couple of the guys in the lead group were freshies, having never really mountain biked before. one of the other more experienced riders brought his dad along. then there was me, another newb who had just finished fasting and wasnít in much shape, a trialís rider riding his rigid singlespeed norco moment trialís bike and a couple other really good riders to round out the bunch Ė all together there was about 9 of us.
the guys leading the group took us through various different trails throughout the don Ė some horse trails, some foot trails... roots, rocks, steep decents, a couple of river crossings. they even took us through a trail not really well known to most riders here in t.o. with a few ladder bridges, some drops and teeters here and there. i didnít ride any of the stunts being that it was my first time back on the bike in a while Ė added to the fact that iím still not too confident in my riding skills to ride most of the stuff out there... but it was still fun. hopefully next time out iíll get to hit up some of those bridges and stuff instead of walking them. before ramadaan, i made it a point to ride a new stunt everytime i go out riding the don, so my confidence should start going back up in that respect the more i get out.
anyhow, half way through the ride my legs started cramping up Ė which isnít much fun. having my seat low didnít help much either Ė but i didnít want to keep having to raise it and lower it depending on the section of trail we were on... so, exhausted, cramping legs and all, i kept plugging along. i wanted to see more of the trail system that i havenít seen and i wanted to see just how long i could keep going until my body just said ďthatís enoughĒ, heh. we stopped for breaks here and there, which helped a lot. in the end, all that pain and struggle was well worth it... one of the things that made it all worthwhile was at the end of the ride, instead of crossing the last bit of river, me and one of the guys decided to hop up onto the don valley parkway (a stretch of hiway running down the middle of toronto) to get across the river Ė being that the northbound side was shut down for construction, we didnít have to worry about any cars... the trials rider mentioned a wall ride at one of the exits that he wanted to hit up, so we hopped onto the dvp and and rode to the wall ride. he sessioned it for a good 30 mins or so and i saw some really dope riding from the guy. they took pictures and even a small vid of the action Ė which iím still waiting to see.
hereís one shot that one of the guys made into his avatar on another msgboard. itís not too clear since itís small... this shot was taken close to the very end of the ride before we head home.