Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ride report

I've not raced yet in 2008, though I've been tempted to head out to the root 66 series and put myself through that torture. Just as I'm about to pack up the ol' 29er though, I remind myself how much I did not enjoy last year's Hodges Dam Race. And that, I'm told, is not a technical course. Mtn bike racing is like cross racing, but twice as long (at least) and 20% as much fun.

Although the past week was spent around the house and not on the bike, I have had some great rides this spring. Here's a recap of a few memorable ones...

I finally met Mr. Hi-Viz green jacket. A few weeks ago, on my way to work, he and I turned onto our common road at the same time, leaving no real incentive for either he or I to loose or catch the other. The weather had been warmer than I had last seen him, and while it was still chilly enough for him to wear those stylish full length tights, he had zipped off the arms of his green jacket and was rocking it in "vest" mode. Straight sexy.

We talked about riding a bit, and he seemed to be a nice enough guy. He asked about my bike (the fixed gear IRO that day) and I explained single speed vs fixed gear and the challenges of each, specifically the difficulty that fixed gear riding presents when the road pitches down. He gazed at me sort of sideways when I unclipped to show that the crank arms didn't stop turning even though my legs had. 

After 5 minutes of noodling along, Jonathan declared that in 15 years of riding, this was the longest he had ridden with another person. I became instantly more aware of even the slightest reduction in distance between us and my hands slid down over my levers. 

He seemed like a nice guy, but then the other shoe dropped.

He expressed gratitude for bumping into me that morning, saying that he was tired and didn't feel like pushing the pace. Whaa?? He then followed that gem up with a comment about how tired he was last week when I reeled him in, and he must not have been having a great day.

Hmmm. That's not so nice, is it? Well, he's going to have to call the DPW next time I come across him 'cause I'm going to tear the road up. It'll be worth being a Sweaty Betty at work for that. 

Training Grounds Redux 
We moved here to Sutton 10 years ago and I was big into hockey at the time. I had a mtn bike, but didn't ride it much until I met a few people at work who rode. I discovered some jeep trails behind the house, but nothing too exciting, mostly double track and some busted up paved access roads.

Then in 2001 I found some good trails back there. It was a 7 mile long loop I called the "Training Grounds" because unlike those jeep trails, this stuff was challenging, looping back on itself again and again, with steep ups, drops and a few great rock features. The stuff was great, but kind of short, and to make the ride worth it you had to tack on a few miles of those jeep trails plus the road ride from here to the trail head.

Last summer and over the winter a few guys I know went back there and cut or resurrected another 11 miles of trails. The full loop includes the "Training Grounds" about half way through the system of trails, with some pretty flowy stuff at the start and some even more difficult stuff towards the end. The newest section added this spring is towards the beginning of the 18 miles, a section of nice gentle bends that encourage out of the saddle cruising and some sweet carving... all under a canopy of 60' white pines.  
Last week I went out just after dinner to experience this newest section for the first time. At the farthest western point, the trail approaches a small pond and loops back and forth along the banks, climbing away from the water's edge for a moment before plunging back towards the shore. The sun was reflecting brightly off the water, and the leaves rustled in the gentle breeze. The silence and beauty of that moment struck me, and I said out loud that I was pretty damn lucky to have this in my back yard.

If anyone wants to come on out for some trail ridin', just gimme a shout. Good Stuff back there.

Scituate Reservoir
Riding alone sucks.

Especially on the road.

I mean really... what is the point?

I ride to chat with or race against or help out or generally interact with others. Not once have I found that nirvana that riding alone supposedly brings people. Riding alone is a means to an end. The end is riding with others. Preferably in a cyclocross race, but a group ride will do. Get it?

You know that feeling that you have when you are pretty sure something isn't going to go your way? Last Sunday I had that feeling. I was looking for some company on a 50-60 mile trip to someplace new (not the usual lap around Sutton) and my first two calls ended in disappointment. It was a nice day and I was coming to the conclusion that no one (else) was really was interested in spending 3-4 hours of it to ride a bike. 

On my last call, my prayers were answered. Just like that my solo trip into RI became a three person group ride with two good friends. It was such a nice treat to have company for that ride. 

Riding alone sucks.  


Colin R said...

Riding alone sucks

To each his own, I guess. There's plenty of days when all I want to do after work is get out on the road without having to talk to anyone for 2 hours. But then again, what do you expect from a mountain biker?

Speaking of which, would you be up for giving me a tour of the "training grounds" on Saturday the 20th? Sounds pretty sweet.

matt said...

Sure.. it's the 21st though.