Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mountain Biking is fun. And it hurts.

Call it an early mid-life crisis. If we're going to be really honest, call it a mid-life crisis.

Whatever the case, I find myself returning more and more to the pleasures of my teen-aged years. Thanks to kayaks, I've gotten back onto the river more in the past couple of months than in the last 20 years. I actually knocked some of the rust off my golf clubs and found I could still kick it around the course.

And I bought a bike. Not just any old bike, but a real, live, front-fork-shock-absorber, kick-ass-and-take-names mountain bike.

I blame peer pressure. A softball & kayaking friend started mentioning bikes a few weeks back. In retrospect, the wily bastard was clearly laying the seeds for a full-blown mental assault. About a week later, he started in with subtle mentionings of fall sales at REI. "Hmmmm," I pondered, "where could I store a bike?" Of course, the moment I entertained a spatial reality, I was essentially stepping right up to the cliff's edge.

Then... the coup de grace. He forwarded an e-flyer from Sun&Ski Sports with bargains aplenty on this year's models. Bargains, I tell you! Within three hours, I found myself in front of the bike section looking like a kid at a candy counter with ten dollars, a hole in his pocket, and a sweet tooth.

I've already ridden three trails around these parts--each of which left its impressions on me. And when I say impressions, I mean it literally. A bruise here. Cut there. Scrape. Sore muscle. Carpal tunnel.

But I love the physicality of mountain biking. It's fast, it's hard work, and it's all about the moment. You're concentrating almost entirely on the next root, rock, bend, or obstacle to negotiate/navigate. There's little room for the big worries. When pain is possible at every turn, those things get compartmentalized quite nicely.

Here. Now. Sometimes we have to force ourselves into that frame because it's good for us.

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