Out and Back, you go, you come back, same terrain just opposite. The Loop, you never see the same terrain twice, you end up where you started. Which is better?
Marty and I went biking out at Bragg Creek after work today and since we could find no trail map and since the sun goes down very quickly we decided we would bike for a certain time and turn around to ensure that we made it back to the parking lot before dark. This was going to be an out and back. We started chugging up an outrageously long hill (maybe it only seemed long to me...) and all I could think of was: on the way back, this is gonna be a downhill!! I knew Marty was excited about that thought, however, me? I hate downhills, they still scare the hell out of me! I immediately started getting nervous. Here we were, just starting our bike ride and already I was nervous about the last downhill we'd do! We rode over a couple of steep lips that dumped our front tires into deep puddles. We had to pedal like mad to keep our wheels churning through some slippery clay and deep mud (didn't always succeed), and all the while I kept thinking on the way back we are going to have to hit these from different angles! I spent the entire ride thinking and worrying about the way back! Don't get me wrong, I LOVED the ride! I LOVED the sunshine and the weather and the company. I loved that we saw cows on the trail and I loved that for once I wasn't crazy scared the whole time, but there was still that little part of me that got obsessed with "the way back!" I guess that is the "downside" of the "Out and Back."
The Loop on the other hand, does not feed into my tendancies to worry about the way back. The mystery of what's ahead, is what gives me anxiety. I worry that the trail will get steeper, rockier and rootier. I worry that I will fall off my bike and cry, but I never worry about how hard "this part" is gonna be on the way back!
The ride we did in Banff on Saturday was supposed to be a "one way" ride. You know the kind of ride that ends with you taking a cab, or previously arranged vehicle back to the start. We had no idea what kind of ride it was going to be so we just started biking. We decided at the beginning, that if it was too hard (for me) we would turn around and come back, and if we both felt great, we'd ride to Canmore and get a cab back to Banff. The ride was definately challenging. It really did have almost the perfect balance of "hard" and "do-able." But here is what I have learned about myself during this "learn to mountain bike at 32 years old" time: I AM SCARED TO GO DOWNHILL!!!! I can chug up most hills, I am not afraid to walk if I absolutely can't make it, but damn, I DO NOT LIKE DOWNHILL! I had no idea I would be sooo scared and I had no idea I turn into such a grouchy bitch when I get scared! Turns out, when I am scared I cuss a little, mostly at the bike, the roots, rocks and a little bit at Marty. I get short and snotty with my comments and I just generally turn totally emotionally retarted (ER as Nic's husband, Troy calls it.) I guess it is because I have no idea how to handle the feeling of "fear" and to me it must be easier to be grouchy and bitchy than scared. So, I bike along, happy as can be, one minute celebrating a giant climb up a rocky hill...and bitching the next, as I ride my brakes nearly "endoing" down the very same hill! Poor Marty, he has no idea what to do with me. He offers to get us off the trail and I get annoyed (I sure as hell don't want to quit,) he offers to go on and the next time I get scared I snap on him, he just can't win! Me neither though! I truly don't know what I want. Part of me wants to get on a safer trail so I can experience success and build my confidence, and part of me wants to just conquer the one we're on! As we biked along this difficult, technical trail in Banff, I honestly kept thinking, this is stupid, I am scared as hell, but we are going to have to go all the way because, mentally, there is no way I can handle coming back across all of this!!! Eventually we decided we were running out of daylight so we had to turn around, we were not going to make it to Canmore before dark. I panicked! I had spent the last hour scared to death, there was no way I could face all of those steep downhills, rocky creek beds and twisty, turny, rooty slopes again! But, I had to! Funny how the "mental game" is so huge in all sports! I was already so worked up about how hard it would be to go back, that mentally, I was a disaster. The way back for me involved, me riding when I experienced rare calmness, running and pushing my bike when I decided that I was a runner and what the hell was I doing biking and me throwing my bike down a hill when it fell on me, during one of my brave riding attmepts! It was not pretty! When we finally made it back to the hotel, I was all smiles, ready to go again. Marty was confused as hell!
"Out and Back," "The Loop," the challenge of "learning to ride," all of it, is proving to be a great, fun adventure for both Marty and I, one that includes a free emotional roller coaster ride! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!