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We’ve been having some great rides in the Arizona backcountry this winter which have served the double purpose of immediate gratification and preparation for our upcoming Great Divide ride. In the back of our minds as we tool down these desert roads is what will the terrain be like next summer when we ride from the Canadian border to the Mexican border on back roads along the Continental Divide? Do we have what it takes to climb all those grades and deal with those ruts in the trail?

We have two continent-crossing road rides under out belts but mountain biking is a horse of a different color. Our newly-purchased mountain bikes have performed very well and we have high hopes.

I’ve done some backcountry riding over the years but it’s new to Mary. She was very cautious on our first few outings: she would often walk down hills for fear of falling. She was also reluctant to tax herself on the uphills. The more we ride though, the stronger and more confident she becomes. We were out for two and one half hours today and there was no dismounting and she kept up a good pace over some rugged mountain roads. But the corker was when she came zooming by me near the end of the ride and shouted (I thought) “Wanna see some butt in you face?!” – which I did as she rocketed ahead of me in a cloud of dust.

“No more Cautious Mary” I thought. “This girl’s going to give me a run for my money!”

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I caught up to her and asked her if I had heard her correctly. She laughed and said what she had actually yelled was “Did you get some bugs in your face?” (Apparently she had.)

Be it bugs or butt, Mary’s skill on a mountain bike has steadily improved and it’s fine with me if she pulls ahead and gives me her butt to look at.

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