I think in the back of my mind I meant to do it. I mean what else can explain setting out for 3-4 hour bike ride at 11.30am at the height of New Mexico's monsoon season, spanning the peak time for thunderstorms? In the Manzanitas surrounding Otero Canyon no less.
|scared the bejeebers out of me|
Foolish, I know. I mean I knew the risks- most notably, lightning aside, the trails become virtual adobe tar pits when soaked, rendering riding beyond useless, and destructive to boot. So what explains my lapse in judgment?
We have been so starved for rain round these parts, I guess I wanted to get up there where our local storms are often born, listen to their boomers echoing off the canyon walls, and just experience a full-on spectacular 4D rain event.
Let's call it temporary drought insanity.
Diagnosis notwithstanding, Sunday afternoon there was tread to lay down. Over hard-packed dirt.
Recent rains coupled with trail closures just lifted left some sections groomed just like a garden path, simply inviting exploration. Invitation accepted!
An afternoon full of climbing, I'm finally on the downward swing, bombing down into Otero proper. The forest rushes by my handlebars, a blur as I focus on executing small drops, jumps, banks at speed. At 4 miles to go, it begins as a welcome sprinkle, followed soon enough by a growing rumbling and an occasional strobe out of the corner of the eye.
|and so it begins|
3 miles, and I'm watching the tread darken ahead of me thru heavy drops, I find I'm in that magical moment where the trail turns to hero dirt, the tackiness just perfect for increased grip and speed.
2 miles, the ridges to either side have disappeared into the gathering storm. Rain is falling steadily, the rocks and trail now beginning to glisten, signalling the fun is near done- mud is nigh upon thee!
Fairly soaked already, I pull up under a protective canopy to stash the phone and gps deep within my pack. I take a moment to take in the view of what I came to witness. A dark rain shroud settles over the upper canyon, slowly rolling down and in. Lightning flashes, and thunder answers without delay. Rain is now drumming, time to get a move on!
1 mile, my treads are losing their grip, mud now flying into my face. The thickening storm is now directly at my back, it's a balls-on race to the finish.
Breathless, I fly up to the truck as all hell breaks loose. I rack the bike, stash the electronics, and turn to face that which I came to witness, to experience. Lightning cracks, rain hammers, I'm engulfed in wave upon wave of the torrential downpour.
Standing there, alone in an empy lot, a fool in the rain. It's a glorious moment.