Liz Nguyen // Mini Epic

"If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you." -Fred DeVito

I ain't gonna lie, it was hard AF! It was definitely the furthest I've ridden my gravel bike (mostly a runner here!), on lots of single track no less. After being sidelined from the bike due to a sit bone injury for the past month, I was a bit nervous about the distance and just from being off the saddle, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences ever.

My main goals were to leave early enough to beat traffic and heat, stay upright and enjoy the day. I managed to achieve two of the four due to a late start, encountering 880 traffic and temps already in the upper 70's when I finally got going. Stayed up too late watching YouTube videos on tubeless tire maintenance and studying/uploading the route which somehow did not direct me on when I needed it, nor was my GPS watch able to display the mileage I was at! This resulted in a lot of stop and go to double check the map and pull out my written instructions. Reminded me of my undergrad days cramming for an exam and unable to regurgitate the info the next day! To top things off, Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" was the last song I heard so guess what the Mini-Epic theme song was?! Ugh.

The first 20 miles were amazing, spectacular views and tons of energy, managed to keep moving with plenty of stops for photos. Really enjoyed the flowy and favorite segment of the day, Chisnantuk Peak Trail. I felt the heat turn up a few notches on the climb up Mt. Um and took a much-needed break to eat before continuing on the single track to the summit, grateful for some shade. My legs were cramping, especially my calf and feeling somewhat dehydrated though I had plenty of water and my nutrition was on point. I managed to successfully do most left hair pin turns but couldn't commit when it came to making rights! Along with the dismount came the leg cramping every single right turn, argh! Luckily, I had snuck a pack of my son's gummies and that nearly saved me for the remainder of the ride.

The road descent was nice and Lisa Killough Trail should have been more enjoyable but the rising temps were brutal and made me sluggish all the way back to Calero. Hiked a bike up a couple small inclines (which seemed massive by then) on Oak Cove Trail which reminded me again of the leg cramps.

Happy to turn onto McKean Rd and crank out the finish, minus the speedy cars whizzing by. Not sure how I made it to the finish, but wow, what an adventure: challenging, thrilling, and empowering! Thanks for an epic day and exploration on new trails!