Riding a bike off road is the most therapeutic activity I’ve ever experienced. The terrain is unpredictable. The drop-offs can rattle your skull. For an amateur like myself, the climbs can be painful, the descents can be dangerous and the rocks, well, they destroy expensive Shimano accessories and flesh without discretion.
When everything goes as planned, a few text messages can bring a group of cautious thrill-seekers together to ambush the woods in silly clothing with helmets on our heads and bags of water on our backs. Often a chain breaks, a tire or two goes flat or someone tacos a wheel two miles in. If the damage is beyond quick repair, the topic of conversation switches from the “epic” ride to the “epic” pizza and pitcher of beer waiting for you back near civilization.
All this can lead to a tremendous sense of camaraderie and when you pass others on the trail it’s best to say hello. A group of us were out riding this past Saturday when we encountered a four-year old and his dad. I know he was four because he told me. He also quickly rattled off his address, his birthday and the fact that he had an REI membership. The little guy was talkative.
One of the riders in our group complemented his bike.“ Yellow is my favorite color,” she said referring to his tiny aluminum frame.
“My bike’s not yellow, it’s LIME,” he responded with a grin.
Another asked how long he’s been riding mountain bikes.
“I just got this bike…I’m only four,” he replied, tugging on his helmet straps.
Finally I chimed in, “What’s your favorite thing about riding in the woods?”
After a few more questions the conversation tapered off and we continued on our way. As I followed the winding single track up an incline and around a bend, the only sound was the faint echo of a little voice in my head, “this is fun, this is fun, this is fun…”
My buddy Chris explaining how much fun we’re about to have.