A mountain biking addict appreciates a slow ride on an off day
By Sarah Hansing
I’m not quite sure just what happened yesterday, but this I can tell you: I was riding like complete and utter poo. My legs wouldn’t turn the pedals over and I was maneuvering the bike like a semi-blind person with seriously impaired motor skills. Every root I intended to steer around, I hit. Those rocks with the clean line right through them? Yeah. I somehow totally ignored that, and found a terrible, terrible line and bounced off of pretty much all of them. I may as well have been playing Connect-The-Dots with all of the rocks.
But some days are like that. I hate those days, mind you, but they’re going to happen.
So as I finished my less than graceful, unavoidably high cadence (in my granny gear the ENTIRE time) up Emma McCrary and UConn, I could only mutter “Well … at least I didn’t stop, I guess.” I thought maybe I hadn’t eaten enough pre-ride. I thought maybe I was bonking. I ate a few Clif Shot Bloks and hoped that would help.
And I kept going from there. The Shot Bloks didn’t help. I wasn’t bonking, I was just bad at riding. Up Pipeline: nearly ate it going over one of the pipes. Mushroom Hunters: almost crashed on nothing. 420: leaned my body and bike in the perfect harmony of unbalance. Tires sliding out. Handlebars hitting trees. Legs still unwilling to even TRY (at least that’s what it felt like). Still upright, mind you, but always just barely. I decided that Mailboxes was a bad idea. That gnarly steep techy part ‘n all. That was a good decision.
I pedaled on for another eight miles or so, and just enjoyed the beautiful day. I saw some cool stuff that I wouldn’t have usually seen, because I would have been speeding past it. I was going slow enough that I didn’t even scare a huge doe, and her tiny fawns; they just stopped and stared at me. As I slowly cruised home, I just started smiling. It was so nice outside. For once I hadn’t gotten mad at myself for my lack of skill and speed on the ride. I hadn’t forced it. I hadn’t done something dumb and hurt myself in an attempt to prove to myself that I wasn’t a crappy rider. Because we all have rides like this; it doesn’t mean you’re bad at riding a bike. It just means you can’t go full throttle all the time. It’s a reminder to slow down sometimes. Take it easy. Respect your limits.
(And pretend that you had intended to just spin the entire ride in the first place.)
Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singletrack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)