Nearing the end of my ride at Chico Hot Springs mud started slapping me in the face as I sped down the hill. Thinking this to be quite odd since my front fender usually blocks tire projectiles, I glanced down to see nothing but my tire. I panicked, turned around, and climbed back up the hill to a particularly rough spot where I got a stick caught in my wheel. I searched around but found nothing. Then I started thinking back to loading and unloading the bike in the car. The fender should have gotten in the way and I would have removed it. This lead me to believe that I'd lost it last week on one of my rides around the Billings area.
I have three favorite mountain bike rides that I can do in the short time that I have for my lunch break and I did all three of them last week. The last ride I did was to Two Moon Park and although this is the easiest of the three rides, I rode it hard last Thursday. I also vaguely remembered spotting something dark that could have been my fender on the trail but it didn't register since I thought mine was still on the bike. So today, although it was cold and windy and I wasn't feeling quite to par, I decided to check it out. I rode into the park and to my astonishment, at the entrance of the park there was a long, dark shape lying on the ground. Wow, someone had picked it up and instead of tossing it in the garbage, left it for me to find and reinstall. Awesome. That really made my ride. And Sarah will be happy to know that I don't have to run to the bike shop to purchase another must have part for my bike, especially since I already did once before.
I spent a few minutes reinstalling my fender and then I took off again. Aside from finding my fender, the most momentous event of my ride was when I burst out of a thicket into a small clearing to see a young doe standing paralyzed on the trail in front of me. I slowed down but continued to approach her. She said frozen. Finally I stopped several feet in front of her and un-clipped my shoe. The sound of me un-clipping must have brought her out of her trance and she and another doe took off into the trees. Its surprising how threatening I must seem to these deer while on a bicycle. I've seen pedestrians walk past and they hardly flinch.