018 Fast

I haven't felt fast for awhile. Since the Sterling Ma. NACT Finals Cross Races, Thanksgiving weekend. I keep reminding myself that it's okay not to feel fast in January and I probably shouldn't be fast in January. I had an entire Fall Cross season where I felt fast. On the long winter rides it's easy to forget.

On Saturday I decided to ride out to the fields. The roads where the traffic is sparse and the farm fields are plentiful. I avoided these roads last week due to the threat of snow drifting and blowing. The cross winds are strong on these flat roads that traverse barren fields. I feel at home, they remind me of growing up on the farm. Long walks around the fields. I didn't move far from home, but some days I miss being right there surrounded by them.

As a child I loved the wind. When a storm was approaching or just blowing across the barren fields. It lended a sense of excitement to the outside. I would run outside into the wind and let it whip my hair around as I leaned into it letting the force hold me up.

As a cyclist I loathe the wind. I stay in during wind advisories, I curse the cross wind that pushes my bike into the gutter, and I fight the head wind that makes turning the easiest gear incredibly hard. On Saturday as I rode through the fields, I accepted the wind. It's winter and I'm feeling slow. I will not fight the wind but instead ride my pace. There will be plenty of windy spring days to slice through the wind with speed and determination, but for now I've accepted the wind. As I turned the corner onto the Brownstown Road Race course the head wind pushed me back. I accepted it and kept pedaling. Up the hill, across the finishing straight and off course I continued on my long winter ride.

I passed an amish teen in Rumspringa. He was scooting along in a sweatshirt, beanie, jeans and sneakers. His scooter basket was full of packages. He was not fighting the wind. He was simply moving.

I allowed myself to enjoy the scenery. I had no intervals to do or recover from. The length of Stumptown Road there was a line of toilet paper strung for miles disappearing into the white snow, as if someone had held a roll out of the car window and let the wind take it a will. I pressed on into the winter wind.


017 Chasing Old Trails

Yes this is a little old. I'm getting back into the groove....

The holidays means spending time with family and returning to old hometown haunts. For BA and I it means packing up the car with mountain bikes and presents. We try to squeeze in as much riding time as possible. I hang onto BA's wheel as he whips around the trails of his high school days. The days of night ride poaching with flash lights and ski gloves. I'm told of story's long past. Of winter rides in waffle thermals, hooded sweatshirts, and corduroy shorts.

The trails are rough, one giant rut, fallen trees, and frozen mud. The hills are tiresome, but we attempt to ride them all. As I dismount my bike and begin the trek uphill BA says, "yeah this isn't even rideable in the dry, in case you were wondering".

Then there's the moments where the trails flow, through the pine forest, down the descents. I'm permitted to lead the chase every once in awhile. I scream all the way downhill. Entertainment for the more confident BA.
I sweat like a fiend, we remove rain coats. It rains a lot, the trails are always muddy. If you want to ride around here you get used to the mud I'm told. BA reminisces of the "dry" summer, when they rode everyday. There's talk of changes to the trail, better drainage through a nasty mud pit, and the hill that he's only made up once without dabbing.

We return to the car. I'm exhausted. I never tire of hearing the old mountain biking stories. Races in corduroy shorts and waffle thermals. I'm reminded, I may never be that hard, no matter how good I get. We can only strive with all our technical gear and carbon bikes to retain the passion of corduroy shorts and waffle thermals.

It's the feeling in our guts, the highs and lows, the goals we achieve and the ones we don't. On these winter rides I'm reminded of why I pedal.