When the house filled with womenfolk, I took to the woods. Actually I slunk to the garage where remnants of my mountain biking glory rested lay unmolested among the usual detritus of suburban life. There - behind those lawn chars - is that my helmet? And who let all the air out of my Trek’s tires? They were both rock hard when I checked them, I dunno, eleven weeks ago. You know - the last time I vowed to get back on the bike… Back then summer was just getting started and - having logged a long day with cycling enthusiast Chad Tucker - I came home with a hankerin’ for some root-ravaged single-track. Filling my tires with air from one of five (5!) bicycle pumps I found that day, I launched a hard-target search for my MP3 player and promptly got sidetracked. That was back around Memorial Day and the ensuing swelter of a Carolina summer zapped any ancillary energy I possessed for something as frivolous as recreational cycling. Now, however, the calendar read September 1st and as my quiet Labor Day around the house turned into one long Hannah Montana episode, I found myself fantasizing about my once mighty mountain bike.
I blame Chad. Over the past year the king of King has transformed himself from a casual admirer of chain-driven conveyance into a lung-powered apostle of sorts. From the bike rack that hangs off his SUV to the self-satisfied glow he emits when describing his morning ride, the dude is ‘ate up’ with the idea of two-wheeled transportation. Rather than open his car door and push him out at interstate speeds, I’ve chosen to humor my reporter pal whenever he broached the subject of my former passion. See, I used to be equally fanatical about the fat tire life, logging mile after mile of deep-woods solitude in every kind of weather. Unlike my TV stevedore duties, it was exercise I actually enjoyed; that’s saying a lot for an inveterate bookworm like me. But having grown up on a variety of bicycles, be it my Schwinn ten-speed or mismatched BMX, I suppose it was no mystery that I rediscovered their virtues in my mid-thirties. However, just as suddenly as I picked up the two-wheeled habit, I stopped.
I can’t explain why, really. Partly though, it was due to this very blog. How easier it seemed to slump down in this office chair and take my mind for a spin than climb atop my Trek and hammer the trails until my lungs bled fire. Cue the spare tire - no, not the one hanging underneath the bed of my pick-up truck - but the one that makes my tropical shirts rumple in all the wrong places. Vanity be damned I thought, equating my expanding gut with a new appreciation for middle age. I’ll just pull a Deniro, let everyone think I’m bulking up for a noble role - not just because I’m too damn slack to saddle up and hit the many twisting trails around my home. Well… today, I finally broke that impasse, thanks to a rare Labor Day off and an impromptu tween dance-off erupting in my upper lair. Forsaking the ritualistic equipment assemblage of previous expeditions, I simply clicked into my pedals and propelled myself toward the woodline. There I found a single track I'd all but forgotten and within a few revolutions of the foot, I found I still had the muscle memory required to stay aloft. Rocketing down a narrow cut in the wilderness, I couldn't help but grin between desperate gasps of air - for I was once again falling into that earth-surfing altered state.
I should have stopped right there - for on the very next blind corner, I ate a whole family of bugs.