Is it true that anticipation is better than satisfaction? For children on Christmas Eve and newly married virgins, I'd say yes. For people looking forward to Arbor Day, I'd say no. For mountain bikers, I'd say maybe.
The five parking lots that get me the most giddy with anticipation are as follows (in reverse order for dramatic suspense):
(5) Tiger Mountain
At one point, riding Tiger Mountain used to depress me. Instead of riding with the Core Team -- Dug, Elden, Rick, Brad, Gary -- I rode alone. Pulling into the parking lot at Tiger Mountain made me think that I made a huge mistake in moving up to Seattle.
Now, Tiger Mountain is one of my favorite rides. When I pull into the parking lot, I wonder if I can make the crux moves on the Iverson trail. I wonder if I'll have the guts to ride across the log after the second switchback on Preston Trail.
I do this ride alone most of the time, but I'm fine with that now. I like Seattle, sure, but more importantly, I have an iPod. An iPod makes friends irrelevant.
(4) Gooseberry Mesa
I'm always a little pissy pulling into the Gooseberry Mesa parking area because I'm sick of driving on all those dirt roads. Then when I pull my bike off the rack and start thinking about the twisting trail and crux moves, the grumpiness fades away.
(3) Tibble Fork
A few years ago, Tibble Fork would have battled for the number one slot, which I won't give away at this point in the web log entry because I don't want to ruin the dramatic suspense. Single-speed bikes makes Tibble not quite as exciting for me as it used to be.
The first mile of nasty, steep, gnarly trail is rideable only on a geared bike. In fact, we used to see who could "no-dab" it -- ride the whole mile without stopping or touching your foot on the ground. I was so excited I used to stretch out and warm up my legs before starting the ride to improve my chances of making it up the double switchback move.
For a brief time every year, I was in good enough shape to recover while riding up the less steep sections of that trail. If everything came together -- if my legs were warm, my lungs were fit, the trail was packed but dry -- I could no-dab it. I think. I actually can't remember if I ever no-dabbed it to the saddle. Let's just go ahead and assume I did, for the sake of argument.
(2) Gold Bar Rim
The parking lot itself is nothing special, but pulling in to the Gold Bar Rim trailhead means we'll be riding all day long. It means the start of the Main Event of Fall Moab.
This wins. For one thing, the parking lot is paved. That's really good for drinking beer and playing derby.
For another thing, the moonscape scenery is striking. And there is a bathroom. And a metal grate that you ride over to start the ride.
Most important, there is all the history. It's where we started naming moves -- Easy As Pie (where a guy said the steep move was easy as pie just before he crashed), The Bowl, Hair Lip Hill (where the upper ledge used to give us fits), The Z Move, Egg Puke Hill (where some random rider lost his breakfast), The Sand Trap.
Slickrock is the first ride where I rode on clipless pedals. Slickrock is where Dug and I used to race each other, back before there was such a thing as the Leadville 100.
Slickrock is where I fell in love with mountain biking. Pulling into the Slickrock parking lot is like pulling out a box of old letters from friends. I can't wait until the next time I get to ride over that metal grate.