“i want to ride my bicycle
i want to ride my bike…”
Air is not passing through my trachea to my lungs fast enough. My breaths are short and quick. My legs are screaming with pain. Sweat beads drop from my brow. My eyes are focused on the ground before me. Roots, rock and downed trees try to play their tricks on me, try to stop my forward fluid, methodical movement. I go over and through them. On I go.
Some 10 minutes have passed and I have passed through some of Michaux State Forest–a mountain biker’s playground if you’re into technical riding characterized by maneuvering a fat-tire bike up and down trails consisting of gnarly roots and plentiful, sometimes jagged, swaths of rock.
I sit at the top of an ascent that affords me the opportunity to enjoy a cool breeze while looking through the trees at another ridge across the way.
I pop open my water bottle and take a swig. There’s nothing like the pure taste of water when you’re thirsty and in need of a drink.
I look at my bike, a well-worn, never-faltering mate of mine that’s been with me since ’94. She’s simple, not one of those high-tech, new-fangled, showey-window store models. She has the scrapes and nicks one acquires over endless hours on the mountain trail. Here today, she radiates a dirty, dull, blue glow.
Saddle up and move on.
Over the next 20 minutes I find myself on a nice XC trail, meandering across the ridgetop, short bursts of speed intermittened with a slow down while on the short inclines, all balancing out with enjoyable cruises on the flats.
The weather is ok, overcast and a threat of rain. Still, the day couldn’t be better.
My speed is picking up. I’m heading down off the ridge. Trees are a blur in my peripheral vision. All attention is on the trail just beyond the top of the front tire. My eyes are focused there, searching for a line between the rocks, roots and trees. Going faster. I lightly apply the back brake…slide into the turn…faster…still going down…rocks…faster…turn…small dirt hump in the trail…FLYING!!!!
I land and continue on. The downhill lasts for another 30 seconds. Adrenaline is coursing through my body.
Smiling an energy-crazed grin.
Looking ahead, I see the trail twisting upward. I drop my head and take a few deep breaths.
Another grueling climb is waiting. I hunker down and settle into the seat. My legs are getting ready to scream again.
Upward I go.
(written 30 April 2000)