Riding off-road is still my preferred way of almost dying. Getting run over by cars is so 90′s, though in order to have the endurance to stay on trail and not in tree requires that I reside in both worlds, dirt and street.
This morning I went out on a jaunt through the woods. Jump off was 10:00. The late start was in order to let the air warm up to a balmy 30. I get to the parking lot ready to soak in the rays. My temperature gauge read, 34 degrees. I heard someone previously make the statement that “Cold is cold. What’s a couple of degrees?” A couple of degrees is the difference between the blood in my veins attempting to freeze and the ground that I prefer with a little give being solid. Anyone that lives outdoors will tell you that a few degrees can mean everything.
Safety First. I forgot my helmet and glasses at home. I did however remember to charge my Garmin and chill a couple of beers. I’ve only ridden on the trails twice without a helmet. I’m no fan, but I figured that today’s pace would be pedestrian enough where pushing pace and taking risks wasn’t of the order. Its hard to suppress the natural aggression that comes along with fighting the forces that beg you to challenge them. Easy day in the saddle or not, once the tires get their first bite, its a date. The “rush” is the best drug I’ve ever been privy to. There’s probably better, but for where I am in my life, “tripping balls” isn’t really necessary.
The trails during this time of the year are covered in leaves. If finding a decent line wasn’t hard enough when the obstacles were present, now you have to account for what could lie underneath. The only way to ride safely and efficiently is to ride hard. The conflict for me was doing that and riding without head gear. The trees looked that much more formidable. Helmet or not, running into stuff hurts. Doubt gets you hurt. Your machine is everything. You don’t have to believe in Jesus, Santa or The Great Pumpkin, but you do have to believe in the ability of what’s between your legs. Trust makes the union of man and bike possible. I’ve had my hardtail for several seasons and no when to “throw it” into turns and when to lay off and ease around it. Variables always change, but knowing the likelihood of surviving a section instills confidence. I felt the wheels slip out on occasion, but compensated and had a fun and chilly romp. Until the next freeze…