Give me a mountain bike, and a beckoning trail in front of me
In the early morning hours of today, the temperature where I live dipped into the 20s F. Amazingly, the temperatures are supposed to be that low for the next few nights, the first time since 1988 that there have been three or more consecutive nights of hard freeze. In a place where the summer temperatures are often over 110° F., that is notable.
So, I waited until mid-day to do any lengthy activities outside. Yes, I went out in the backyard with the dog for a while, but it doesn’t count because I was still in my robe. Oh, I love Saturdays.
I finally hit the mountain bike trails around 12:40 p.m. I am usually getting home by then, but as I said, I wanted it to be warmer. It’s not because I am a big wimp when it comes to being cold, which I suppose I am, but it gets hard to regulate your body temperature when it’s super cold outside. I sweat a lot when I mountain bike, and today I chose good moisture-wicking shirts to wear next to my body (love Craft and Under Armour!!), a long-sleeve jersey to wear on top of those, and a windbreaker jacket to start out. I knew the windbreaker would last only about five minutes, but I didn’t want to be cold in those five minutes!
When I got into my favorite network of trails, I stopped to take the windbreaker off, then went into the deep short dive that is the first trick, then I cruised to one of the high spots in the trail. I saw clouds in the distance, and they were snow clouds. I had to stop and take a couple of photos, I can’t help myself. I could tell that it wasn’t far north to where the overcast started. I looked harder and saw Mt. Ord in the distance, under deep overcast. It was a beautiful sight.
The lovely trail was laid out before me, and I descended to the next section, a section of fun roller-coaster dips and turns that are fairly technical. The bike wanted to go. How is it so fast? It hardly weighs anything, but if I let it go completely, I would soon be in deep trouble as the turns are sharp. So are the cacti that line the trail, as I have found out many times.
Then I climbed up to the saddle where I could choose either north or south, and I went south to find the same route I rode last week. I was going to do it, then add the loop back to the main trail and take it down, back to the car. I “cleaned” every climb, though I felt the back tire slipping more than it should. I ought to replace it soon, it is worn, but for the moment it is working well enough.
While in the loop, I kept a lookout for mountain lions. I know they have been seen in the area, and the close-in, towering rocks make me a little nervous sometimes, but today all I found was peace back there. I let the bike flow, banking it through the turns, then powering up the climbs. In the technical climbs, turns, and lines that wove among the rocks, I was just by myself, and in the moment. I was enjoying the bike and how I felt as I rode the technical lines. This is why I like to ride on my own, because there are no distractions, no worries, no stress. This is mine, I thought. Mountain biking is the only thing I have that is truly mine. I have done it for a long time, will always do it, and it’s something that most other people can’t or won’t do. I do not share the trails with too many other people, there aren’t that many riders who will take on these trails. It makes the trails belong to us, an exclusive club that isn’t for the cowardly. I like that I am part of it.
Eventually, I flew back down the descent and back to the long straight stretch that is the “cool down” run back to the car. I had to come back to Earth, come back to reality, as I had things to do the rest of the day. But those trails are always there for me, and that’s where I go to escape the insanity of the real world, and bring myself back to peace.