The morning ride through Fayetteville was a bit chili and would have been dull if we didn't have 3-way helmet intercoms. And riding straight south towards the trails into what looked like a heavy storm wasn't encouraging. The idea of more red Arkansas mud made Danny and me shudder a bit. Last year was rough.
But as we got to our route and the pavement disappeared behind us, so did any worry. As the day went on, it only got better and better. From crossing bridges over turquoise streams, to speeding over tree-canopied rolling hills, to water fording... It was a blast.
As we rode, it became increasingly clear that we are better riders than we were before. Which provided confidence. Which helped ride even better, and learn even more. Pretty soon we were flinging red mud off our tires and tearing around uphill rocky switchbacks. And so we did, all day.
After deciding our time was up, and turning down the last trail of the day, it got really interesting. Immediately we had to ford our deepest water yet.
The water came above our feet and sprayed higher than our windshields, and was completely awesome to ride through. It wasn't 200 feet further, around a curve, that we found our road blocked by a large fallen tree. Immovable, and not circumnavigable, we built a stone ramp and each rode up and over!
Our supreme comfidence of dominance over the TAT lasted a whole 30 seconds until we got to this:
More than a puddle or a stream crossing. You can see the other side of the road,
hundreds of feet behind be, with a RUSHING RIVER IN BETWEEN.
I knew we were done. Danny
Assured me that we could make it... until really looking. Joey was doing donuts in the mud around a tree.
It was a fitting end to our ride. While I wouldn't say we completely defeated the TAT, we definitely didn't lose this round. We needed to turn around and go home anyway. And it leaves something to tackle next year. .
Until then TAT.
P.S. No, we don't know who won the LARP battle that happened in our campground while we were gone.