Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This mountain-biking stuff is harder than it looks...

Over Thxgvg weekend my Dad – who got interested in this sport a couple of years ago – took me mountain-biking. I am 39. He is 63.

Apparently, mountain biking trails are full of hills and valleys, and it’s on purpose. They twist and turn, and are full of ruts and tree roots. And someone has put rocks everywhere, plus mud and bushes. It makes it a lot harder to ride a bike.

The first 30 or 40 minutes were mostly uphill, on a dirt/gravel road, and I was able to keep up – my cardiovascular is pretty good from running & hockey, so sometimes I was even ahead. Then we turned around and went back down, which was a different story. All the mud and gravel and rocks and ruts we had crept past in low gear on the way up were now waiting to kill us. Dad raced ahead, flying through turns, roaring down the straights – I kept my eyes on the road in front of my tire and tried not to die.

After a few minutes of sliding and braking and testicle-jarring bumps, we turned off the road onto an actual biking trail. It turned out that the previous 50 minutes were just the easy part.

I think I didn’t do too badly, but it wasn’t pretty to watch. Dad went ahead, calling back advice like “keep your weight back now”, or encouraging me with little homilies like “dabbing is death”. Dabbing, apparently, is what you call putting your foot down to keep from falling over. Some of the spots we both walked, like when the trail dropped into a dry creek bed, and then went practically perpendicular up the far side. Sometimes only I walked, and a couple of times I made it all the way through tricky uphill parts with no dabbing at all.

At one spot I needed to pop the front tire up about 8” to get over a little ledge of rocks, but I was geared too low and didn’t get the lift I needed from pedaling. My front tire came down directly into the ledge and my rear tire went up into the sky behind me. I hung there for a minute until Mother Earth hugged me to her rocky bosom once more. I decided this would be a good spot to stop for a drink, and also to see if respiration was going to start up again sometime soon. Even playing hockey, it’s been a while since I had my breath knocked out like that. Dad’s contribution was “That’s called an ENDO.”

Eventually we ended up back at the cars – it was a great workout, the scenery was beautiful, the riding was exhilarating, and it had been too long since Dad & I had been able to do something like that together. All in all a terrific time. (Thx, Dad.)


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