Bike term of the month: Three-hour tour

Ever had one of those rides that end up turning into a death march? Well, I've got one of those stories.

We wanted to check out a new trail from a network we were pretty familiar with, so we thought we would just hit it after lunch one weekend. Trail conditions were perfect and the weather couldn't have been better. We set out for what we thought would have been an epic lap or two in the trees with the puppies and then been home for some brats on the grill. Reality couldn't have been further from perfect, looking back.

A beautiful day for a ride

The ride was superb until we went left, then right, then left, dropped into this, climbed that, and then realized we weren't where we thought we were. At this point we found cell-phones don't work too well without service. We should have brought a Garmin.

Anyway, long story short we were lost. We didn't want to back track since that just wouldn't be fun riding the same stuff, so we plugged on trying to make sense of where we were. After 6 p.m. came around, reality started to kick in and we decided to try backtracking. You would think it an easy thing to go back down the trail you just came in on, but somehow we didn't make it back to where any of us was recognizing anything.

It was getting dark when Jon pipes in, "Hey, isn't that the road down there?"

A couple miles off the trail down the ravine was the road we had driven in on. We decided to abandon our trail and see if we could swim through the undergrowth to make it back to the road and just follow that back in.

Brush was thick so we ended up scrambling down the side of the mountain half riding the bikes, dragging the bikes, sliding with the bikes, or at some points trying to catch up to the bikes. Somewhere along the way down, the sun disappeared on us. After a couple hours of bush-whacking, we traversed the river (the dogs liked this part since they hadn't had water for a while), got to the road, and ended up riding on the shoulder for a couple miles before we arrived at the parking lot at about 1 a.m. --  soaked, scraped, and exhausted but mostly just having our pride banged up a bit.

We now refer to this ride as the "Three-hour Tour." For those of you who might not know, "three-hour tour" comes from the old TV show, Gilligan's Island, about a ship that went for a three-hour tour but was caught in a storm and shipwrecked on a tropical island.

The moral of the story? Make sure you know where you are!

Get out there. Happy riding, and feel free to share some of your own three-hour tours.

Shane Bakerby Shane BakerGoogle+

Shane Baker is an avid cyclist and outdoor adventurer. He's worked in the cycling industry for more than a decade.

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