I rode my bike this weekend. That makes it different than last weekend. I already told my wife all about the rides and probably most of the people who care very much were actually ON the rides, but I still want to share a couple of highlights from my rides this weekend.
Saturday - Mountain bike ride. Bad weather, great ride.
To elaborate, I met Rider One, Jake B. and Jon H. for a two hour plus mountain bike ride that crossed the south hill bluff, crossed Hatch and H-195, went up a trail that I did not know existed past White Road and then was aborted, for me and Rider One, so that we missed the Fish Lake and back up the South Hill portion of the ride. This was my first semi-serious mountain bike ride of the year and the guys I was following, and I was most certainly following them the whole time, are serious riders. Jake is strong like an ox and handles a mountain bike like it is an extension of himself. Rider One is so fluid on a mountain bike it makes me want to stop riding them altogether because I have never for one moment been that graceful on one. I don't have much experience riding with JH and there were precious few moments when I had enough oxygen pick-up to be very discerning about his riding; I just know he was in front of me on a single-speed and I was working all my gears hard to keep him in my sights.
With Jake leading on a route that he and Jon have done many times, they lead me down a few things that I had never ridden on the bluff, including one section that was as steep and twisty as anything I have ridden. I did chicken out on one long, very straight, very steep trail section, choosing instead to run my bike down. In hindsight this was a bit silly since the corkscrew was more technical and really all I had to do was ride my rear brake down the hill, but the fully exposed length gave me pause.
I should also disclose that I am 1-for-1 on my mountain bike ride to bike crash ratio. I managed to plant my pedal firmly and solidly against a rock causing the bike to come to a full, 100% immediate stop. Guess what happened next? Yes, good guess. A body in motion will continue in motion until acted upon by outside forces and all. In this case that force was gravity that brought me in contact with the ground a few feet in front of my bike. Fun stuff. And also fun was the fact that less than 100 yards from my fall was a section of trail that was literally the 12" along a rock bluff with a 15-30' drop. Have you ever had a fall shake your confidence on a bike? Me too.
All in all, though, it makes me want to ride my mountain bike more and soon. I will also let you in on a little secret. I am hoping to be riding a new mountain bike soon. I won't tell you what, but I will give you a hint: 21" Gary Fisher Superfly. And no, I don't deserve it, but I still hope it works out.
Sunday - Road Ride. Decent weather, awesome ride.
To elaborate, I joined Rider One and six other MR riders for a windy three-hour ride. We left the Rocket on 14th, rode up the Fish Lake Trail (both sections), along Salnave to Clear Lake, then Medical Lake, Four Corners and home along Westbow and Thorpe. To put it in terms that the eight of us who were there will recognize better: Head wind, head wind, head wind, cross wind, head wind, cross wind, head wind, head wind, cross wind, head wind, OMG a glorious tail wind!, cross wind, tail wind, cross wind, tail wind, tail wind, tail wind, tail wind, tail wind, fish ladder home. I personally skipped the fish ladder for a more direct route home, but the rest of the description is accurate.
The head wind wasn't too bad on the Fish Lake trail because it is a bit protected. We rode in a double pace line with everyone taking pulls and riding a moderate pace. The Salnave section was tough. It was very, very windy, but after we crossed I-90 and turned right towards Clear Lake we were suddenly very happy with that wind that we had been cursing in the prior miles. The trip back was fast and it felt great. At one point Rider One and I were in front of the double paceline talking about those glorious moments when riding feels tiring but great, hard but wonderful, and the speed seems to be leaping out of your legs. Sure it was the tailwind, but it was great. We may have gotten a bit silly along Westbow (okay, sure I may have contributed to it), but it is rare that a group of riders in our age group gets to wind it up that fast and spin out our biggest gears and have it feel that good. A fun day.
Sunday - Mountain bike ride. Decent weather, great ride.
Hey, wait a minute. Didn't you just describe an exhausting three hour ride from Sunday? Why yes, I did. After I got home I told my wife that my road ride was one of those days where the ride lasted just exactly the distance I had the strength to ride. Another three miles and I would have been dropped by the group so hard and fast you would think we had been going uphill. In other words, I was completely, totally, 100% spent.
Just a few minutes after describing this to my wife, my 12-year old asked me if I would go on a mountain bike ride with him. I am truly fortunate to have two great kids and I don't have enough chances to ride with them, so on a very, very rare weekend when I didn't have work or chores demanding my time, I didn't feel right turning him down, so I changed my clothes and headed out on my mountain bike for another ride. We had a fun ride (at a pace more suitable to my condition than following Jake) and one particularly note-worthy moment. My son had ridden up the long climb from our house towards the Highlands without stopping, which is a sometimes yes, sometimes not thing. A while later, we had a 100-200 meter pitch that was fairly steep. As we approached it, I said, "just ride up what you can", hoping to encourage him to give it a shot but also "knowing" that it was a bit too long and steep for him to make it. It was one of the few times I was in front that day so I started up the hill pondering where I should stop to help out my son. I decided to ride to the top, stop and walk back to push his bike or offer some encouragement. As I slowed at the top I looked over my shoulder and to my surprise, he was right on my tail. He had cleared the length of it and I needed to keep moving to not block his way. Now, I love my son regardless of whether he rides a bike or how he goes about it, but it was one of those moments that forces you to pause and reconsider what you think your kids are capable of doing. They keep growing, changing and amazing me.
To sum it up: Weekend Riding - variable weather and multiple reminders of why I like riding bikes so much.