Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dreams about falling.

First single track of the season is always an adventure. 

I love mountain biking, it's good for the reflexes. In many ways it's a lot like riding a motorcycle. You check over the bike make sure everything is in working order, throw on your gear and head off down the trail. Flying through the woods on a pedal bike takes self awareness, risk assessment and quick decision making. And the first time out is always a little sloppy. 

Aspen grove ( MORC site photo)
It amazes me how fast the trees, turns, rocks and roots come at me during that first half hour of riding. It's like I fell off the couch and am suddenly running through the woods. Thankfully, lap two always flows. I'm lofting the bike over roots, bombing through tight aspen groves and carving into berms. Completely confident in what I want the bike to do and that it will obey my commands. 

Some of the falling in a dream feeling can be attributed to rust but I suspect it has more to do with where I'm looking. I'm putting a 2 inch tire down an eighteen inch wide trail with rocks, roots and berms grabbing for my attention, branches slapping me in the face. Staring at that 2 inch tire will not get the job done. Looking far ahead is the only way to get the information you need to execute the task at hand. 

Don't tread on me!
Trust in your abilities and bike will have you flying down the trail in no time. The balancing act is to not over estimate your abilities, a line more safely crossed at ten miles an hour with a 30 pound bike. (and always with protective gear) A mountain bike will teach you about fatigue, judging road conditions and unexpected hazards; the real world has a funny way of hiding a stump in the grass, just tall enough to send you over the bars. 

On a sunny day when I'm in the rhythm and I have a few mile behind me I'm in most need of a ego check, something the trail is more than happy to provide. To head off any gremlins looking to intrude on my zen, I ask myself the following questions:  Are you having fun or scaring your self? Are you pushing your abilities? Are you fatigued? Is this the time an place to really push yourself? Sometimes the answer is YES! and you go for it, cannonball off the high dive! The trick is to know when.

Restored prairie at Salem Hills

Today's ride was a great shake down run, slow and steady. The trail was damp, the rust was thick and I'm getting over a late season cold. I picked my lines carefully and took in my surroundings. The trail runs through aspen and pine groves, around a few secluded duck ponds and through a restored prairie. I stopped to photograph a large painted turtle that was hanging out in the trail. I've also run into deer, turkeys and coyotes on this five mile loop.

Check out Salem Hills on the MORC site.

"Wheelie!" (I swear I don't teach him this stuff)

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