Had the 29er prepped and ready. New tube in the once-flat front tire (running 40 psi front and back), a freshly lubed chain, and 160 psi in the 80mm Rock Shox Toro front suspension.
So what started well went south pretty fast. The trails at Sugar Mountain are in and around the ski hill; "Easy Street" was a major climb that revved my heart rate within just a few hundred yards. Most of the trails are utilized by young hotshoes who take the chair lift to the top, then banzai down.
I packed up and went over to a greenway riding area near Banner Elk, where I had ridden before. Found some trail that had a skull and crossbones on the arrow. I gave it a shot, fell when I couldn't get out of the clips, and hurt my right hand (arthritis in the thumb joint can't take the torque).
Saw a couple of "mature" guys my age come riding by and head into the woods. I followed them in and came to a stream crossing, sharp lip out of the stream to another uphill over tree roots. The riders were long gone and I was left to ponder the fact I no longer had the riding skill to clean that section.
Bottom line, I put my tail between my legs and went home. Once home, I further emasculated myself by taking off the SPD pedals and putting my toe clip pedals back on. Hard to ride like a champion when you have touring pedals on your 29er.
Adapting to getting old(er) isn't always easy or fun. The boundaries created by tough terrain and mountain bikes is hard to accept. No big advice from me on this day. Just digesting my limitations, as we all must do as the years tick by.