Last Thursday and Friday I loaded up our Thule equipped VW Passat and headed to Downieville with my boyfriend and our doggies to scope the trails for the Destination Downieville Women’s MTB Retreat coming up this weekend. What follows is a trails update and a little info on why I’m in the ICU…
My gear was so dialed, I couldn’t have been more excited to shred my Bicycle Fabrications Pocket Rocket on the awesome trails in the Tahoe and Plumas National Forests. With my Dakine Nomad pack, Kali Avita Enduro helmet, a sweet pair of Smith Piv-locks and some Five Ten Impacts I was ready for anything.
As usual we started the day with lots of cups of Guayaki Yerba Maté and then headed to the shop to meet our ride. Our Yuba Expeditions shuttle was driven by newb Eric, who needs to learn more stories (he’s the blonde, go up and give him a hard time for me hey?) Another Yuba staff member, Jake, was our DJ and also riding buddy for the day. He rocks an old Santa Cruz Bullet in his Vans shoes, indicating a down to earth and core rider (and he shreds!) We were joined by many other smiling faces, many from South Lake Tahoe.
Since getting our property last year, and different jobs, we haven’t had much time to ride together (other than our house trails), so it was nice to follow and be followed by my bfX2 (bestfriend and boyfriend).
We dropped into Sunrise Trail with Jake, which is actually a short climb that I always seem to forget. The trails were tacky and fun. Sunrise has nice flowy corners. There’s a little snow and one big tree we couldn’t move, but I bet those obstacles have disappeared by now.
After Sunrise, most folks go down Butcher, but we took a right and cranked up the fireroad to ride Big Boulder. It can be confusing following these less used trails, but just look for and follow the blue arrows and you should find Big Boulder. There is a big creek crossing and a long climb with lots of false summits before you reach Big Boulder. But trust me, it is worth it.
Big Boulder was also littered with trees so we made a few stops to do the best we could with our hands. There was also some snow, but overall the dirt was PERFECT. The soil is still soft and puffy, and more untouched. Try it you will love it!
Big Boulder also has some great views, but you should stop and look because 1.) looking where you aren’t going is not safe and 2.) there are great flowers to smell and trees to hug. Also, if you are not used to so much descending it’s good to give yourself a little break. Best to descend while fresh, with a clear mind!
Big Boulder ends at the top of Third Divide, so then we were on for another fun descent. Again, stop if you want to look at that river. After that, First Divide does have a little pedalling but I recommend it for maximizing your singletrack experience per shuttle lap. Stay off the road as long as possible right? This is mountain biking!
The next day Bender and I headed to Graeagle. We didn’t have a shuttle or self-shuttle so the plan was to show him the Lakes Basin Trails, bring him back to the car and then summit Mt Elwell and shred down the mountain solo to meet my little family in Graeagle.
We stated our ride on Round Lake Trail and then onto Silver Lake Trail. There was snow for sure on Silver but it was fun and scenic. Somewhere along the way I was leading Bender through a nice granite rock section and my mind wandered to trip planning. My front tire found a nice hole to shove itself into and with no thoughts in the right place to react, before I knew it I was tucking and rolling. I needed a little assistance unstucking myself, kind of like a snowboarder asking their skier pal to pull them out of deep powder. My shoulder had some pain and my elbow was a little scraped, but nothing was wrong it seemed…
My shoulder pain increased and with my last Saturday teaching Yoga, Knowledge, Tea & Skills plus two more back to back days of coaching and riding coming up I chose to forgo my solo mission up Elwell and we headed home to rest. I made it through Saturday at Auburn Bike Company and Sunday at Cronan’s Ranch, with no problems. It was hard to stick my left arm through my hydration pack, but nothing more.
On Monday I took my students to Sly Park in Pollock Pines. However, as soon as I parked, my shoulder pain ignited and brought a cruel friend: a very sharp and strong pain in my upper left abdomen. I blamed the ab pain on too many campfire marshmallows and perhaps GMO corn on the cob. I had to sit out the ride, it was so bad. I tried to stay calm and worry free, and wrapped up the day with a hot shower at Anytime Fitness and then went home.
At home the pain grew, but I still really thought it was my tummy. When I could not lie down at all and it became hard to breath, Bender offered to take me to the ER. After breaking my back in 2008, and having such similar pains and body experiences as I did after surgery, I honestly began to cry. I got scared about what ifs and what would become of our Downieville Trip. I didn’t want to be away from our doggies or property, or have weird chemicals put in my body. I didn’t want someone to tell me I could not ride my bike.
After a mostly sleepless night, propped up on the couch with doggies, pillows and down blankets, I was 100% ready to go. As the first bird chirped I called out to Bender, who was sleeping in our little bedroom “Please take me now.”
Walking through the ER doors at my own will was terrifying. When I enter a hospital as a patient, I literally feel as though I am turning over my body. I know it’s just a body, but it’s my vehicle for having fun on earth here, so I am pretty protective of it. I am very unhappy about narcotics and opiates, but when the doctors explained they had to lay me down for the CT scan, to see what was wrong, I finally obliged. We waited patiently for results… A Grade 3 ruptured spleen, which had slowly developed over the past 3 days. The awful pains all throughout my abdominal cavity were the result of blood hitting the fascia, not some crazy gas. Ruptured spleens kill people, so I am totally grateful to be here. They don’t just remove them right away anymore so I’m here waiting with the doctors to see I the bleeding will stop.
I am so grateful to have such a loving and supportive partner, family, friends, and of course the Shine team! I am sad I won’t get to ride this weekend, but I trust Joh & Jacquie will make it super fun and informative.
If you would please pray for me (in any way you please) that I can keep my spleen and be well enough to go see our trip, hang out and taste our Bacon Sponsor’s goodness (http://www.elsalchichero.com) I would be so honored and grateful.
Be safe out there, love your friends, and be grateful for life. And remember upper left ab pain could be your spleen and it could take a few days after trauma for symptoms to appear. Go as soon as possible, and take care of your friends if you find them in this condition, it’s quite serious.
Love to you all & Namaste.