Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Single Track in the Kettle

Robbie, Gregg, and Chris.

I received the email yesterday from Chris asking if I would like to go mountain biking with him at the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit, a wonderful network of single tracks that range from mind and fun to pretty technical stuff.

Unfortunately, I suck at mountain biking. The last mountain bike I had was 21 years ago (a Ross Mt. Hood), suspension was rare to non-existent, and trails like this were few and far between. Before that I converted my Schwinn Stingray to a BMX bike and rode all over the place, but this sort of riding was new to me.

My trusty steed.

Frankly, it's a lot more like skiing gates than riding on the street. I was not used to dodging trees and boulders at a high rate of speed, and my performance showed it. I fell about five or six times, mostly just slow-motion fall-overs when I caught a tire between a couple of rocks or didn't quite make a hairpin turn. A couple of my falls were real diggers at a high rate of speed, missing the big tree but whacking into the small one. or hitting a small stump and going over the bars into a sandpit.

It's weird falling down on a bike. I haven't fallen of a bike on pavement in decades (except for the first day I got clip-in pedals and forgot to clip out at a stoplight). I felt like I was learning how to ride all over again. That's because I was.

I did get better. I learned to trust the bike, which was my mantra as I barreled down steep slopes covered with softball-sized granite boulders, letting the suspension of the bike soak up the bumps. After six or seven miles, I started to feel comfortable. Yep, just like skiing gates...look way ahead and trust your skis to go where you point them.

As soon as I lick my wounds I look forward to getting out there again.

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