I absolutely love riding this time of year. Yeah, I know my last post was about how filthy riding in November will get you, and yes I also agree that, with a couple notable exceptions, I love riding in general. But, it’s true: this is my favourite time of year to ride. It’s cold (3C/38F today) enough that your breath fogs in the car on the way to the trails. Take your helmet off, and there are roiling clouds of steam above your head. Falling hurts at least three times as much, noses are running, fingers hurt, and literally *everything* is slippery. It’s a challenge, and quite a lot of the time I’m out I’m thinking “why in god’s name am I doing this, what a terrible idea,” but I love it.
How can you not, though? I think there’s an important aspect of mountain biking (and mountain bikers) that doesn’t often get discussed. David Suzuki’s radio commercials call it “Biophillia”, though I’m not 100% certain that’s a real word. What I mean is, though the majority of our enjoyment from rides comes from the riding itself, at least some of it stems from the fact that we’re out in Nature, isolated in a way that you can’t really find anywhere else. Hiking gives you a relatively limited range, and taking something motorized changes the whole experience – only with a mountain bike can you really get far enough away to lose yourself, but still be capable of getting back before you freeze your <insert important bit of anatomy here> off.
|Fine, I admit it, I’m shameless about taking pictures of my dog. He’s pretty cute though, huh?|
Perhaps some of it is elitism, on my part – as I said earlier, today was 3C. I think I saw two other people out on the trails, both of whom were wearing that peculiar-but-effective mixture of spandex and fleece. It’s a very different crowd out there, now. Even the weekends are quiet, and most of the people I’ve run into are fairly experienced. I’ll admit to a certain feeling of badassery, and maybe a bit of pride in the fact that I enjoy riding enough to willingly put myself through a ride that had the thumb-wipe on my glove icing up. I suppose it’s not so much of a skill thing as it is a motivation thing – I think it takes a lot of drive to get yourself out when it’s cold and wet and the sun goes down at 4:30 and you have homework and and and. It’s worth it, though!
|It’s actually rare that I can get him still enough for long enough to take a decent shot. A given day of pictures winds up with at least 3/4 looking like this.|
Honestly, though, I think the majority of the reason I ride is for the scenery. There is, to be fair, an undeniable thrill that comes with jumping a log step (even more so when it’s accidental, surely we’ve all had that “oh shit, I’m airborne” moment?). However, I tend to find myself enjoying the stops at the top of the hills, watching the eagles circle and looking at the cities miles and miles away, more than I enjoy the actual riding. Perhaps not by much, but certainly by some. Are there any other sports that allow you to come whipping down a hill, hauling ass and generally being awesome, only to stop in a meadow and watch a family of deer wander? Probably not!
|There was one time when one jumped across the trail in front of me. I may have gone into a two-wheel slide and then a river. Have you seen the video of the guy getting hit by a gazelle?! Terrifying stuff, that Nature.|
Face it, readers. There’s really nothing better than mountain biking. Go ahead, give yourselves a hand! When you’re done clapping, go out for a ride. Take a moment to look at what you’re going through, though. Chances are, it’s pretty damn amazing.