I just got back from my fourth hit of the week. Riding after a normally lazy winter season is a right of passage into the greater joy of the mountain bike season I think. Yet, no matter how horrible a ride might be, it’s still better than most other things I could be doing. There’s just something about an unusual bite of cold wind on your face, the slight taste of bile in your throat, wanting to collapse into a heap on a climb I had dialed the previous season, feeling the first twitches of a cramp way too early in to the ride, questioning my sanity as I huck and gasp for air. And then, I forget to restock my co2 cartridges.
But it’s only momentary, the first few rides of the season do hurt. You’re slow, you’re achy, and the only thing you can compare it to is the top shape you were in at the end of last season. But you get done and ask yourself, “why didn’t I go farther? I feel pretty good” then you fall over at your car because you failed to exert enough energy to unclip your shoe (yes, all true). This all passes as the mornings get brighter, the temperature gets hotter and you start to feel more comfortable staring down the trail ahead of you instead of right in front of your wheel and you spend more time on your bike on that that technical climb than fumbling up it. Then the personal challenges come- that one section of trail, that elusive time- and it’s another year of getting away from work, enjoying the great outdoors, feeling the roll of the bike as it moves under me, seeing that deer dart across my path and wondering why I didn’t buy a snowbike and ride all winter.