4 May 2009

Just Ride

Posted by mercieb

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what has become my life adventure in cycling. I’ve come along from the days when I didn’t own a car, was really poor, and what I considered fun on a day off as a trip over the Golden Gate bridge to Mt. Tam on my 1992 fully rigid M300 Cannondale. Man, those were the days. I used to just take off. Sandwiches and water loaded into the pack, my walk-man with a fresh set of batteries, and a sense of adventure. I would be gone all day, sometimes not making it home until after dark.

These days when I look back on all the riding we have done over the years, I think it would be neat to go back and ride all those places again. Would it be hard? Would Moro Canyon be as technical and scary as I remember it? Perhaps not. Now that we have been in the same place for an extended period of time, I have lots of opportunity reflect on trails that used to be difficult and made me nervous once upon a time.

Take Tiger for example. The first time I rode the Preston RR Trail, I had to hike my bike through a mile of major blow down. Picture taking your bike and flinging it as high and as far as you can over the downed trees. Then imagine crawling through the innards of the trees to go retrieve your bike. Do that about 100 times. Then when you finally reach the other side of the blow-down, you are met with the wettest trail you have ever seen. A literal river using the trail to get down the hill. It was an adventure I’m not likely to ever forget, but that trail gets easier every year. Is it me or the trail? There has been a lot of trail work done in the last couple of years up there.

Brian and I used to ride St. Ed’s from time to time. Half the fun was getting really lost but now we know those trails like the the back of our hands and it has turned into a place to take the dog riding instead of taking ourselves for a ride. Being on the constant hunt for new, more exciting trail systems seems to be the order of the day. Whistler is the next obvious choice for the excitement upgrade. It requires a new bike and a whole new set of gear, but that’s a small price to pay for adventure.

I would love, one day, to go back and ride Slickrock in Moab. The first and only time I did that was on that M300 Cannondale and it was outfitted with full touring racks. I had never been mountain biking before (not really anyway) and I had no idea what I was doing. My guide, bless his heart, was gentle, encouraging, and gave me lots of pointers on what to do. How easy or hard would it be now? 

Along this same line of reasoning, I’m racing XC again and having a ball. So far this season, I have 2 wins under my belt and that effectively doubles my number of wins for my entire racing career. Now, is my class getting slower or am I that much faster this year? It’s hard to say. I know it’s a lot of fun but the girls this year just don’t seem to have the same kill instinct I have seen in some past years of racing. It is a different group after all. In my defense of sandbagging, I did overhear a few of the girls on course chatting with each other. I hope they were having a great time… I know I did.

Perhaps it’s experience, perhaps it’s fitness, perhaps it’s sheer dementia. I don’t know. I wonder what it will all look like with another 10 years of riding experience. I hope to keep learning and getting better at it and maybe I can make it back to all those places to see what they look, feel and ride like then. 

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One Response to “Just Ride”

  1. Great post – enjoyed reading it. Congratulations on your 2 wins so far this year.I’m sure you’re getting faster with more experience. The “prime of life” riding era.Me? After 25+ years of riding, lots of experience, but getting slower. Age creeping in. Still, at almost 48 years old, dig it all. Bikes keep you young. I was never fast anyway.About 15 years ago, I revisited some of my old mountain bike trails in New Jersey. A short ride in freezing weather on a borrowed Pro-Flex, still a cool experience. One day I’ll head back to see what trails still exist and ride with old friends.Keep up the posting. See you at the races or when we stop by the shop.


    Dan O

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