Yesterday, whirring on the stationary bike, I watched snow coating the fields, trapping me inside. Chris Butler of BMC had declared a day of rest for the east coast. Today I’m meeting Andy on my mountain bike.
We head toward Jarman’s gap- a twenty-minute gravel climb that will snap the teeth off your granny gear- on main roads. A passing car sloshes a bucket of slush in Andy’s crotch and my face. Soon we’ll be on roads that people fear driving, the Back Country. “Andy, that’s a cool sign, but it says ‘bicycles prohibited.’ Should I tweet this picture?” Andy pulls a homemade brownie from its foil wrapper, “Heck yes! Chicks dig it.” For the record, cyclists walk this section of trail. Usually.
The trail leads us to an untouched road buttered with three inches of powder. Tracks indicate that bear, coyote, deer, and squirrel were the only ones here before us. We float along, sliding inch by inch to the low side of the hidden road. Turn and fishtail. Lean and slide out. Our core muscles constantly engaged, burning backs prepared to counterbalance the smooth, deceptively haphazard surface. Mountain bikes are the smallest over inflated physio balls ever.
We keep building our ride, coming upon a cross-country skier. Before the next hard climb, 3 hours in, I poke clumsy gloved fingers at my energy bar and knock half of it to the ground. After hammering up the climb, Andy is drilling the pace, or so it seems. I struggle to stay even. My thoughts muddle. I am bonking. “Hey, how do you feel about a brownie at the Batesville Store?”
We park our physio balls outside and catch a face full of Christmas spirit. The Batesville Country Store maintains this generous atmosphere year round offering samples of their baked goods, smiling hometown staff, live music, and powerful anti-bonking products. Finally, I settle on a chipotle brownie. It brings life.
An energetic lady on her way in stops us, “Are you the two guys I just passed on Dick Woods Rd.? You know, you guys should really be careful on those bikes. It’s so slippery, your brakes might not work. I’m in a car, and my brakes don’t work.”
I look at Andy. We’re thinking the same thing.
“Your brakes don’t work! What are you doing on the road? Didn’t you notice our sweet disk brakes? That was the most major road we hit all day.”
A mountain biking afterthought:
Earlier in the week we annoyed, world class pro mountain biker Jeremiah Bishop on a six hour adventure. It began when he told me about a great trail that was mostly downhill. I said, “I need to pedal.” Then we stopped on the trail to fix a mechanical. Andy said, “This is what I love about mountain biking!” He was serious, but Jeremiah detected sarcasm. Throughout the ride, Andy and I used MTB slang like, “skids and wheelies, session that rock, huck that trail, freestyle that bench,” to which Jeremiah responded, “it’s not just hopping around on logs all day!”
To me, it felt like hopping around on logs all day. After the ride, my insides grinned for an hour. Then it hit me, “That was a really hard ride. I’m 100% wasted.”