Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coyote Run

A surprise day off. We packed up the bikes and headed out for our first ride at Willamette Mission State Park.
The orchards are always beautiful, be they apples, filberts, or cherries.
We started out on a paved bicycle path. Soon Steve diverted to a dirt path. He raced along behind the grass curtain, his heading popping up like a prairie dog with every jump he flew over. I watched from the tame safety of the paved path. Then our paths diverged. Steve won out, convincing me to walk my bike through some tall grass to get to the dirt path. Were the vultures in the distant trees an omen?

The dirt path turned out to be a horse trail with some refreshingly beautiful views of the river.

I took this for the fun of it. It turned out to be a "before" photo. I chopped my hair short about a week ago. The hydration packs were a must. Hot and humid out here lately. Steve boasts a Camelbak. I have a High Sierra that I find works just as well. However, I cheat and use a Camelbak bladder on the inside.

The happy part of the ride! I'm wishing I had gotten some after photos. They may have broken the lens.
We rode almost three miles before coming upon a clearing. We skirted a cornfield and began to feel raindrops. (I had checked the forecast which predicted rain, but didn't want to dampen Steve's spirits and maybe even thought he had checked it himself. haha Silly thought.)

Riding quickly, we made it to the woods on the other side before the heavens really opened up. Lost in the fun of things, we tore headlong into the blackberry briars at a pretty good speed, slipping and sliding through huge mud pits and over tree roots and rocks.

I was at the lead when I heard a crashing noise from the left rear. A few seconds later I heard Steve yelling, "Go, Kar! Go! Go! Faster! There's a coyote chasing me!?!" Not kidding! A coyote Steve describes as looking like this fellow here and weighing around 40 lbs or the size of a small German Shepherd had charged toward him.

We're still not sure if he was chasing a rabbit or other prey when we rode in between them, or if all of the sudden noise muted by the rain surprised him and he happened to run in our direction instead of away. We stopped a ways up the trail and looked at each other incredulously before bursting out laughing, with a bit of apprehension mixed in. Steve got a pretty good scare from it. I didn't even see it and I was terrified. We pressed on.

We rode through some face-high grass which was soaked by the downpouring rain. I felt as though I was 6-years-old again doing bobs during swim lessons at the local pool. Water. Water. Water. Gasp! We realized, after a few gallons of rain and a pound or two of grass seed, that we didn't know where we were and the trail maps weren't making any sense. We were drenched.

We ended up retracing our path past the coyote encounter to the cornfield. Before reaching the huge mud pits or the cornfield, Steve pointed out my rear tire had gone flat. Of course, we had no spare tubes or a tire pump. We're definitely not boyscouts! We ended up carrying my bike the four miles back. On the way, Steve discovered his iPhone had shut itself off and there was water under the screen. It wouldn't reboot.

Before reaching the car, the sun had come out again to dry us off to a sloshy damp and served us up as the main course for the mosquitos. We also felt the skin on our arms tingling. Somewhere along the ride we must have crashed into some nettles. I initially thought it was poison ivy, but it's healing quickly.

Our bikes were beyond dirty.

The mud and rain seeped into our shoes and socks. I try not to think of how much of it was horse poop...

The final tally:
*Too many scrapes & bruises to count
*Steve - 54 mosquito bites
*Kari - 14 mosquito bites
*One ridiculous story!

We'll think twice about riding on horse trails again!

Thanks for reading!

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