A mountain biking addict reflects on the sheer genius of not taking life quite so seriously
By Sarah Hansing
*Do Not Try This At Home Kids.*
It was a pretty foggy, chilly morning yesterday. The birds weren’t really chirping, the sun certainly wasn’t really shining, and the best way to describe my motivation would probably be “lacking.” But by the time the afternoon rolled around, it was nothing but blue skies, sunshine, and the insatiable urge to ride my bike that comes with beautiful weather, a day off, and a “hey! wanna go ride bikes?” text from a good friend.
Although we sometimes do take turns driving (waaayyyy) across town to ride at each person’s respective home turf trails, this time she was kind enough to make the haul my way. And so, by mid afternoon, without further ado but with lots of smiles, we hopped on our bikes and pedaled off towards the trail head. We were both recovering from longer rides the days prior, and were stoked to have a nice pedal in the woods together on this beautiful day.
Now, I may have mentioned that I got a new bike recently, because I did. And I may also have also mentioned that I am extremely picky when it comes to the set up of a new bike, because I am. I may ALSO have noted that I can be fiddly to an unreasonable degree in adjusting the teeniest-tiniest things on the bike, and have no problem stopping in the middle of a ride to tweak a handlebar tilt here, or the seat post height there, because I am apparently a borderline crazy person when it comes to how my bike fits me. And so, after we had done most of the climbing to get to the trail head, I declared that I just needed to lower my seat post a TEENY bit more. I pulled out my multi-tool, loosened the seat post clamp bolt, and lowered my seat post a whole 1.5 mm (seriously. that’s about all it was.) Twisting the allen key victoriously in the clamp bolt to tighten it, I heard a “SNAP”. Yep. I had messed with it one time too many. The bolt had snapped in half. My 1.5 mm adjustment had now become a 4 inch drop in seat post height.
We looked at each other in horror. “It’s ok, Sarah, we can just turn back…” “No! I want to ride my bike!” (I think shouted). Plus, she had driven an hour to get to my house to ride. AND we had already done most of the climb in to where the good dirt was! I was determined to keep riding. I wasn’t DONE yet! And so with my seat post dropped ridiculously low and swiveling in the seat tube, off we rode. I looked like a dizzy trained bear. It wasn’t comfortable. It was super hard to pedal. I decided I would just stand up to ride. Also a bad idea. My legs were mad. I was starting to regret my forced march. But we sort of had the giggles now.
Suddenly, genius struck! (Genius sometimes takes the form of a ridiculous, potentially VERY bad idea by my definition, just so we are clear.) I stopped in the middle of the trail, and started scrounging around in the fallen debris. I think my friend thought I had lost it. And maybe I had, but what I had found was a magical, wonderful stick. The diameter was perfect. The length was perfect. And into the bottom of my seat post it went. It worked! My seat post was nearly the perfect height! Now, I’m not bragging or anything here, but in retrospect this was a terrible idea. I probably could’ve broken my frame. But I didn’t. Instead, I managed to ride another 13 miles with my custom woodland-special seat post extender.
Yesterday was yet another reminder from the trail gods to not take things so seriously. Inconveniences aren’t the end of the world. I saved my seat post stick to remind me of that. It was pretty much a magic wand, to me. On an aside, might I suggest: stop being so picky about your bike. Just go ride it.
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.)