We leave the parking lot, riding side-by-side up a short stretch of fire road before cutting left onto a rock-strewn creek bed that climbed sharply. Making it to the top requires choosing a path that navigates boulders, gravel, damp leaves, and roots - and then executing. Gravel can spin; boulders may be insurmountable; leaves and roots are slippery when damp. The hill is steep enough that the wrong choice would bring me to a halt. I carefully select a good line and push forward, breathing hard.