The Mountain Bike Life

Racing. Training. Diet. Equipment. Upgrades. Money.

All of these are things a lot of cyclists worry about on a constant basis. Am I fast enough? Am I meeting my goals? When can I afford that new wheelset? Is my alu frame holding me back? Do I have enough points to upgrade? All of these things are valid and I wouldn’t take them away from anyone, including myself. But the most important part of cycling in my opinion, is fun.

And exploration.

All summer the Dirtbags Sunday ride has been carving out new trails amongst existing, albeit seldom used neighborhood parks and forgotten patches of woods behind industrial parks. Naturally these paths have become more noticeable and more fun to shred as time goes on.

I don’t want any environmental activists to get up in arms about what we’re doing. We’re mostly riding in places where walking paths and ATV trails have already been plowed through and in a couple cases, patches of woods that are most certainly designated to be paved into Wal Marts and malls in the next ten years. I’m certain of it. That’s just what happens in these suburbs.

We’re hoping that won’t happen and we feel a good way to approach that is, through the proper avenues, turn some of these areas into designated multi-use city parks. If we can connect a couple of these trail systems we can be hopeful that some day the city and/or state will protect them from certain commercial development.

As we connect the first trail system to the second, we pass behind the parking lot to one of these gigantic suburban super centers and share a laugh.

It’s a friendly ride shared by riders with only one common interest; fun. We have guys on 29ers, cross bikes, single speed commuters with lots of rubber and sometimes even old steel road bikes with as much tread as they can squeeze in those frames.

All sorts of things can be found out here. Our last ride showed us a beaver, a black snake, plenty of deer and even one of nature’s best bike repair stands. This guy enjoyed not one but two flats almost back to back but made the best of his situation (and my CO2.)

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The tail end of the ride takes us back through a old neighborhood alleyway we like to call “Dog Alley.” It’s a downhill sprint through two or three blocks of suburban alleyway that seem to be home to some of the meanest dogs in the city. As you scream through, dogs are sprinting at you left and right with a fierce bark.

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We say our goodbyes on the last stretch of open road leading us back to the city. The sun is getting low but the summer is still here for a few more weeks and the Dirtbags ride will be one of the highlights of our collective summers.

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