It was on a rocky, somewhat steep uphill stretch that I finally gave up.
Woefully out of shape, dragging the group down and fed up with the weaknesses of a borrowed mountain bike, I dismounted and walked the bike to the top of the hill. The universal mountain bikers’ sign of surrender.
Two friends and I were on what would ordinarily be a pretty cool off-road bike ride at Roman Nose State Park. We were following horse trails in a semi-wooded patch of the park, navigating semi-rough terrain that had a few stumps and rocks as well as plenty of uphill and downhill stretches.
My friends, Jeff and Trent, had sweet rides. Both were on Cannondales. Jeff is all about outdoor sports. When he skis, he telemarks (a difficult style of downhill skiing) and does it on expert slopes. He runs. Hunts. Fishes. And he enjoys off-road biking.
Trent is much the same. Except his biking resume includes several years of competitive road and off-road racing.
Like I said, I was in pretty lousy shape, in terms of heart/lung conditioning. Sure, I could lift some weights. But that doesn’t do much good on a bike.
And then there was my bike. At the time, I didn’t own my own wheels, so I ended up borrowing some. I appreciated the thought, but this bike wasn’t the light-as-air, tough-as-nails specimen that my friends owned and cherished. It was more like something you’d buy on the cheap at Walmart. Or at a garage sale.
It was heavy. The gears slipped constantly. The seat was hard as a rock, and no matter how much I tightened it down, it kept slipping out of place.
Needless to say, I did not enjoy this experience as much as my friends. Which is too bad. There’s a lot to be said of enjoying the outdoors while pushing yourself physically. Lord knows, Trent had it down to an art — he could fly down a dirt path doing 40 mph and call the hair-raising experience fun.
I got to thinking about this as I contemplated my wife’s pending bike purchase. She’s set to compete in a sprint trialthlon in Austin on June 6. Her current wheels are not up to snuff, so we’re looking at getting her a new ride. She loves biking, and it seems to be a natural thing for the two of us to start doing together more often.
If I were to revisit that trip to Roman Nose, I’d like to have a bike that’s up to the task. I’m in much better shape now. And perhaps we might be able to find a way to retrace the path I tried to take on those horse trails, worry less about a crummy bike and relish the challenge of busting through the woods without having to stop, look down in defeat and walk my bike back to camp.
SPEAKING OF ROMAN NOSE, MOUNTAIN BIKING, ETC…
Just so happens that the state park near Watonga is having a bit of a shindig for mountain bikers on June 7, the Roman Nose Mountain Bike Festival. This is a big deal and is part of the 2009 Tour de Dirt. You can get more info on the race by checking out this Web site: http://www.tourdedirt.org/Flyer%20-%20Roman%20Nose%20Mtb%20Fest.pdf