So... I had planned to be up at 6AM and be at Santos by 9:30 to ride with Forrest, Nikki, Heather, and a few others, pre-ride Reddik in the early afternoon in preperation for the race tomorrow, and camp out up there so I wouldn't have to drive.
It was a good plan except for the part where I woke up at 9:30
I decided to make the best of it and head to Alafia. I grabbed a sub from Publix, ate half and saved the other half for dinner. I got there around noon and geared up. My first lap around the park was pretty mild: North Creek, Bridges, Roller-Coaster, none of their options (except the whoops, which I never really consider optional). I was riding alone and taking it easy warming up.
I always try to ride at least one new thing each time I am at Alafia, so I can keep progressing as a rider. Last time I rode/walked Moonscape, so I decided I should give it another go. Last time I missed a turn and missed a lot of the trail, so this time I made sure that I headed that direction. I walked a lot of the descents, even some of the ones I should have no trouble riding, because I had to stop and look to see what was coming up next. I can't wait to get used to the trail and start riding more of it and walking less. A lot of the climbs were fun, and if I didn't make them the first time I tried again a few more times and either made it or eventually gave up. Anyhow- it started raining half-way through the trail and the clay turned slick and made it a much more interesting ride! I finished the trail and got back to the pavilion before it really started pouring.
On my next loop I rode North Creek, the first half of Bridges including the option, All of Rock Garden including both options, and Rollercoaster including the first option.
I tried making the climb on Bridges option (Garrys or Shellys loop, I can never remember which?) a half-dozen times before giving up on it and moving on. It didn't used to give me so much trouble, but a lot of it was after walking my bike back to a tree to mount up and clip in, my cleats were packed with weat sand and would come unclipped during the climb
The first option on Rock Garden (closest to Riverloop) has been haunting me a while now. I had never made that first root climb. This time I didn't get more than half-way to the tree before I was stopped on something. Frustrated, I tried again, and again, and again. Always before today I would hug the left side and bypass most of the roots, then come at the tree with such an angle that the rear tire would slide out on the top root and stop me. Today I crossed the biggest roots on the way up and went to the right side, then turned and tackled the root-climb by the tree head-on. Success! I was so shocked I almost did a pedal-fall out of sheer joy.
The second option on Rock Garden has given me similar problems at the log crossing. I've made it over the log before, but without enough momentum to keep going. I've tried going high and using the rocks for more traction but the turn was too sharp. Today I just aimed for the middle of the log and did a great big wheelie, leaned forwards and hoisted the rear end up and... over, and still moving! It felt great to finally clean that section of trail.
I almost washed out on the first option on Rollercoaster. Not the big drop, but the smaller one after with the sharp turn. Then on the bench-cut the clay-holes nearly brought me to a complete halt. We need to fill those in with crushed rock before they get any deeper.
I ate the rest of my sub and tried to figure out what to do next. It was bugging me that I hadn't made that climb on Bridges so I went and gave it another shot. This time, I knew as soon as I rounded the corner that I was going to make it. I don't know how, but before I even started the climb I said "I got this" and zoomed right on up, whipped through the rest of the loop, and headed back to the parking lot to end the day while I still had sun to see by.
When I pulled onto CR39 it was 7:30, and I ended a wonderful 7.5 hours at Alafia. Tomorrow I'm going to ride Santos instead of racing at Reddik, that is- if I don't oversleep