30 July 2006

Popping the cherry

The bloom is off the rose! I'm sitting here on Sunday afternoon, a bag of frozen corn on my swelling shin, a bit of blood oozing from numerous small cuts (and one big gash), and a thumbnail that looks like I took out a serious option on black nailpolish ...
I'M A MOUNTAIN BIKER!!!!

That's right, my friends, my whole world has shifted. Thanks to a fortunate series of unfortunate events, this week of bad juju turned around, culminating in a very, very sweet ride becoming available, and I wasted no time at all jumping on it -- and when I say jumping, I mean with BOTH FEET!

Ride like you stole it. This is 5 a.m. Sunday, before setting out for Palos.

Four inches of travel front and rear, a rear shock that has three on-the-fly settings that determine its feedback, a very nice set of hoops, and dead-on trigger shifters -- this thing is built to RIDE!

So that's just what I did! I knew this day was coming, I just didn't quite expect it to be as totally cool as it was. It was quite a change from the cyclo-cross trail riding I've been doing -- everything was "nicer" (my back barely protested at all), and a whole lot faster. Sure, I didn't climb quite as well, but the singletrack and the decents were outrageous, and only twice did I get in over my head ...

The first was just 32 minutes into the ride, as I flew down some doubletrack at about 20mph. There was a channel in the middle of one of the ruts, and as the trees on the right forced me to my left, my tires caught on the edge and I had a full-on yard sale. No big deal, thankfully the grass was still a bit wet so I just slid -- about 10 feet into a bush!

The second was a bit nastier. I passed a couple of guys on a fire road, and railed into the beginning of the singletrack on Out and Back, my favorite trail. Well, I wanted to stay ahead of them, so I really pushed it ... it went well for about 3 minutes ... left, right, left, right, and OH SH*T! I made a big mistake, grabbing a fistfull of brake, and slammed straight into a tree. I bounced off my right shoulder, slamming my right thumb somehow, and bashed my left shin with my pedal. A bit dazed, I pulled myself off the trail, and as I noticed blood running down into my sock the three guys came by with a friendly "Everything all right?" Huh. Yeah. Just great.

Thankfully it was pretty much the end of my day anyway, so I finished out the trail, hit one more small section of singletrack, and then widetracked it back to the big hill to finish with a FLYING downhill. SO much faster with suspension!

Needless to say, I'm pretty excited. I told my brother about the bike last night at his birthday dinner, and we're going to hit the trails at Veteran's Acres together next Saturday. We haven't ridden together in like 3 years, and that was a road ride -- he used to be a very good mountain biker, but hasn't ridden in a while, so I figure my lack of skill and his lack of fitness will probably cancel each other out just right!

And yes, I'm already checking out the WORS calendar for next year ... 4" is a bit much for XC racing, but with the adjustable shock it should be alright ... and it's just perfect for 12 hours ... or more ...

Shout out: To Universal Sole and Paul, the owner. He put on a running race at Palos this morning, and as near as I can tell it barely disrupted traffic at all. The volunteers were all super-nice (even lead biker Jason Para, out there on his 'cross bike), the course looked very well marked (and challenging!), and Paul is just a super-cool dude. I've known him since the day he opened the store at the first location, but haven't seen him in a few years -- when I stopped to chat, it was like I was still a runner!

ONLY 140 DAYS TO NATZ!!

1 comment:

Bdog said...

Real mountain bikers don't crash.