Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Zen Of Mountain Biking

The Zen of mountain biking.

On Sunday, I went riding in Monte Sano State Park. It was a perfect day for a ride. After a long, wet, cold winter; a warm, blue-sky day was just what everyone wanted. And Sunday delivered! It was time to break out the mountain bike.

I have been riding Monte Sano for years now. I rode my first bike near the banks of Fagan Creek which runs down the west face of the mountain. I remember riding to the end of Shades Crest Drive and back home thinking I had crossed the country. My brother and neighborhood playmates would have races throughout the neighborhood. Fast, tight circles in the driveway were the trick to winning the Tour de Shades Crest. I guess my riding will always be linked to Monte Sano. Oddly enough, I rarely ride my road bike on the mountain. It’s always the mountain bike. But, I digress.

So, I was riding on the familiar trails through the trees and rock outcroppings of the mountain. All the trees are bare and the trails always seem brighter to me in the winter with the sun reaching all the way to the leaf-covered forest floor. As I rode, I could see the trail wind off into the distance instead of being swallowed up in green in the summer. It’s like looking at a river when you’re flying. The more I ride the more it feels like I’m flying over the river and I don’t even think about the bike. I just let it bounce and roll under me, keeping my eyes on the thread of sandy-brown trail through the brightly lit leaves as I weaved through the trees.

What was so cool about my ride on Sunday was the feel of it. I was riding many familiar trails, but the park has opened up trails that haven’t been open in years. I’m know there are uber-freak mountain bikers out there who could out-ride me any day, but I’m sure they share the same Zen feeling when they ride like I do. Once I get moving, I pick my line, the path I’m going to ride. I don’t even see the rocks, sticks and roots in the trail. The bike takes all the hits and I fly over them. The woods around me fades to a blur. All I see is the line I am going take on the trail winding through the woods. All the noise of the bike, the bouncing over rocks, mud flying up my back - it all fades away. All I see is the line and you use every muscle in my body to stay on that line. It’s like I’m connected to a thread, pulling me through the woods.

That’s when you feel it…the Zen of mountain biking.

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