It felt good to get back on the bike today. It wasn’t the first time but it was the first real ride this season, in several seasons, really. Last week some time I had hooked up the bike trailer for the kid and we drove around a bit but we stuck to the pavement (for the most part) and apparently it was still “real bumpy”.
So today I did an honest to goodness trek through the woods. Eased into the water drinking (I tend to get carried away and go too much / too cold too soon) regulated that well and even my pace. I stopped when I was tired, enjoyed the nature, and proceeded onward. Often it was “just up the next hill, around that corner… And it was good. Even the struggle to get up roots and rocks is worth the effort once you reach that point, and my favorite place to ride (since leaving home) has many of these investments of effort with payoffs of swift downhills and rocky jumps.
I always enter from the Bachelor Street side of Mt Tom Reservation. There is a most definitive hiking side and biking side, with a good mix of trails. I’m never one for planning my route and normally that works out for me, but I did not start on my normal trail. I know there is “a big loop” and “a small loop” but even when I glanced at the map briefly today before setting out I failed to choose.
I find it’s often better to let the bike decide, and normally that is a good strategy. Had I more endurance that may not have been a problem for me today, but it started to get rough. I took the initial left and then two more rights at various branches to attempt to work back to where I started. There is a long stretch in between. I had lumbered through most of it, rasping and wetting my mouth avoiding just gulping down liters of water from the camelback… Finally I dropped back onto a major (4wheeler wide) trail, and it was on. I even did the uphills quickly, but the downhills… Oh the downhills were such sweet bliss.
If you have never been real mountain biking before I can only describe it as the quickest thinking, reacting, and adapting you may ever have to do. Of course, this is all variable upon your speed, which you control. There is an advantage to speed, effortless uphills, smoother ground, easy avoidance and jumping distance. As I zoomed down that back trail dodging, weaving, placing the front tire, reading my balance for the real, adjusting the pitch on the bike, the tilt by braking front or back, it was a huge rush of excitement, of pride, and accomplishment. I was doing this, I was in control and I was doing well. I was having fun, doing something physical, and I was doing it well.
The hours before melted away, the frustration of knowing where i was but not quite how far, or where, really.The stubborn climbs, the roots right at the apex that stopped you in your track, all that led to the payoff, finding the patch, the smoothest method of travel amongst rocks, dirt, trees, and pre worn tracks.
I remembered today, and it felt good to be back.