Sunday, December 7, 2008

Learning to love the whip.

There is an area of the local forest that is so seldom visited by bicyclists, that it is almost weird. I have never, ever, ever seen anyone else there that was not part of the group I was already with. But I am not complaining, mind you. We will just keep it between you and me, OK? OK. Today I rode with KT and Purple Pat.

It begins on an old, paved road with tons of history (see post

This is KT. Loyal readers may recall I mentioned him in previous blogs. He is still rebuilding his strength and fitness after a serious leg injury and his left leg is still about 2/3 the size of his right. KT did a road century yesterday...a pretty hard one...and then brought out his 29er Orbea SS and proceeded to spank me in the climb and really, the whole ride. Mercy. Here he is happy because he is unaware that I am considering pushing him over the culvert behind him.

Snacks at the top.

Soon we hit the singletrack and spent the next 2 hours winding up and down and around the shoulder of the mountain. The recent rains had packed down the sandy soil and green grass was just beginning to show. Dark and almost primeval feeling in parts, the trail stays under a canopy of old oaks for most of the ride, swooping and twisting and diving like a good trail should. It is not a cruise though and on the SS, it purt the hurt on us more than a few times. 3 hours of great stuff and a morning well spent with friends on bikes in a beautiful place.

The SS is such a cruel and tantalizing mistress. It promises to be simple and quiet and easy and whispers things like "I am all you need" in your ear. Then, once you get it out on the ride, it brings out the whip. I mean, why do I do that to myself? That is not really a terribly hard climb on a geared bike. Not at all. On the SS it is another thing altogether. Once at the top, the pain is forgotten and the challenge of finding the right line, less braking into the corners, sitting, standing, keeping momentum and attacking the trail all are such a part of the game on the SS. I am not really good at it yet, but I am working on it.

I still fear the whip, but I am getting to like the sound it makes when it cracks across my soul.

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