Nothing like an extra day of weekending. In my neck of the woods, I had sun and clear skies. I had to apply sunscreen for my ride. First time in a while! I had time for a ride or three. It was enough to get me excited about summer riding. My commute got the weekend off. My other bikes got a little time to play. Time to ride with no real plan is the best way to relax. Drinking in the scenery, the sun and feeling the topography under my tires. There’s nothing like it.
Off Rhodi…riding! A little rhododendron humor.
Blooming great day of riding!
My spirits are high!
The Lake view
Right side of the tracks.
Lemond mailbox bike.
The wonders of riding a bike don’t have to be limited to long weekends. Tomorrow I’m back to my commute and I have a taste for summer on my bike.
Did you have access to a cycling team when you were in high school? I remember being in my high school math class and there was an announcement over the PA on a Monday morning. Blah, blah, blah and then something about our bike team winning a race. I thought, “Huh, we have a bike racing team?” I had no idea. The team consisted of four to six guys, two of them were in the upcoming spring play with me and I didn’t know that either one even rode a bike. Then what followed was the math teacher saying my name repeatedly to break me out of my dumfounded state of consciousness.
How did I miss this opportunity? I still don’t know, but a friend of mine, Larry, saw this article and sent it my direction. I wondered why we don’t see more cycling in high school. Find the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) on Facebook and give them a like. Also you can donate online to help their efforts. Mountain biking is a far more attractive option for our young racers in training. What a great way to learn how to handle a bike and perfect your skills with balance and agility. At the end of nearly every sentence I kept moaning, “Where was this when I was in high school?”
Personally I did not find a place with traditional sports in high school. I was easily discouraged. I enjoyed volleyball the most, but I had the impression I was supposed to be good right away and I wasn’t. I thought you went to practice and learned about the game, whatever the game. I parted ways with the idea that I’d be able to learn a sport and put my focus in other areas. I kept riding my bike to school and work at my after school job.
“A lot of these kids have done football, baseball, and haven’t really found their place in traditional sports,” says Shaun Anderson, who coaches the Cuyuna Lakes team in northern Minnesota. “They find this and it’s given them a home.”
Truth be told, I’m older than the mountain bike, but younger than Gary Fisher. I’ll donate what I can to help the efforts of NICA! The next generation can count on me to support their riding.
Remember that post… about the new bike? In the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity of putting a few miles on the new bike, 125 to be exact. My spring break was a stay-cation and my goal each day was to ride at least 15 miles. The week was mostly about Belle, the Trek Stache 5. The weather was agreeable enough to warrant a roadie day too, but ideally, I wanted to take Belle off road and see how she handles in different terrain. Did I mention I couldn’t have ordered better weather? A few days were in the mid and high 70s.
I had a blast riding the Stache around town and introducing her to all the spots that are made for a fatty. I rode in dirt, sand, and gravel: loose and packed, through potholes of all sizes and in grass. I also tried hay, bark dust and a few puddles. This bike is more fun than I ever expected. I’m head over wheels about how she moves on a path. I’ll ride to the summit of a mountain and shout: I. Love. This. Bike!
She enjoys every terrain type and veers off road like a puppy sniffing a path. I find myself looking for challenging terrain just to see how she handles. When people describe a bike as agile, I always get a picture of a bike dancing like Gene Kelly in my mind. This bike is limber, nimble and ready for anything ahead.
Here’s a little video of one day :
There’s this long stretch of road at about :47 which I rarely use on any bike. On this bike, I only notice how well the bike handles and how I’ve missed being on the road. The bike makes you feel topnotch on any topography. At 1:47, I decided to dive into some gravel and roam around a construction area. Ridiculously fun! I let the bike propel through holes and even the slightest pedal action had me secure in whatever lay ahead. Cut me a slice of awesome because it was fun, fun, fun!
Want to know how train tracks feel? Like absolutely nothing! The bike makes me feel like I am a kid again. I thought the tires might be too much for just riding around. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Three-inch tires are amazing. First, you don’t have to worry about anything. It reminds me of the joke, “Where does a 500 pound (fill in the blank) sit? Anywhere it wants. A bike like this will go anywhere and climb anything. It has one speed: go!
Spring break was a teaser. I ready for summer and more time riding Belle.
I ride to work out my worries. With each revolution I get stronger in my body and soul. I gain balance and control. The air gets sweeter and a smile comes back to my face. I find myself again. I imagine the freedom of being a kid with nothing to do but pedal around waving and smiling and feeling free.
My daily commute is predictable yet miraculous. The route is nearly the same to and from school (I’m a middle school teacher/librarian), but for some reason I always see it through different eyes. I’m happy to zig and zag through the same neighborhoods and find the same people walking their dogs at almost the same time. We wave and sometimes I stop and say hi. A week ago I saw the two Scotties being walked behind this fenced area that I didn’t know you could walk through. There’s a tall wire fence. Upon closer inspection, I saw that on the left side you could get over the curb and enter the area. Apparently it’s owned by the city and it’s a haven for mountain biking plus there’s another area even bigger two blocks east, the lady told me. I rode over there and lo’ and behold there was this dirt path.
I was on my Kona and the path looked better suited to a mountain bike. I have gone by this area hundreds of times and this was the first time I saw it: Bike Narnia.
Today the world was shining and bright because the sun was out for the first time in days. A friend wanted to ride home with me and then I said I’d get my mountain bike and ride partway back with her and check out the trail.
Belle is the new bike. She hasn’t even been mine for a week yet but the Trek Stache 5 is amazing! This was the first time on dirt and I felt like I was in another world. I time traveled back to when I was 10 and I rode my banana seat bike way, way out of bounds and didn’t even care if I got caught. It was worth whatever punishment. But I didn’t get busted.
The Stache 5 handles like she’s leading me. Despite her 3 inch tires she’s responsive and agile. I felt like she knew more about the dirt than I did and she was just telling me to trust her. The ground was wet and muddy in spots and I climbed over some big rocks and tree limbs, but the ground was dense and spongy. The disc brakes were easy to control and if anything I felt like a skilled biker as I stood up or pivoted right or left on the trail.
The best part was seeing these two kids about 8 and 10 on their BMX bikes. I moved out of the way. They thanked me and said I had a cool bike. Which of course means … I have a cool bike because kids don’t lie about that kind of thing. I followed the trail here and there and it brought me out into a neighborhood. It took me a few seconds to recognize where I was, but it was a street I had gone down but never looked into this whole fenced area.
The thing about biking is that it can be simultaneously predictable and surprising. I like that when I’m on a bike I see things in the world with fresh eyes and I can find a renewed sense of wonder in the simplest things. I guess you can say that about running or walking or anything, but on a bike it feels like you’re flying. It’s pretty rare to see someone grimacing while riding a bike. The bike action seems to connect people with their inner youngster and you want to be friends with everyone.
Playing house was not my thing when I was growing up. I played at exploring. I would tear around my little town in Indiana for hours on my banana seat bike. Once I figured out how to balance on a bike, with the help of my patient mother, there was no stopping me. I rode everywhere the sidewalk, path or pavement led. I disobeyed my parents with regularity on which streets to cross and how far afield I was supposed to go. I didn’t go “just a few blocks” away, I went miles away. The town was small, and the world was large. It was all mine when I was on my bike. Recently, I looked on Google Maps and found my old house and it’s funny how the street looks like it’s been minimized as if it were that yellow dot on my computer window.
Today I got a bit of my childhood back. I bought the Trek Stache 5. It is the perfect combination of mountain bike-fatty tires and no muss, no fuss suspension. Tire pressure is my suspension. From the first test ride I knew. Love at first spin. It was the fourth and final bike in my research and I rode it home from the bike shop today. The best part was the detour. As is often the case with a detour, you discover. And that’s what exploring is all about. Oh, and fun. This was epic fun.