I spent the waning hours of the day today on a dusty trail in the Oakland Hills; grinding up big hills, wiggling through the deep crevasses that served as the escape routes for what rainfall we have had thus far this spring. An eagle’s eye would have witnessed my silhouette darting between the trunks of redwoods as I rolled and fishtailed along, up and down the ridge, casting shadows on the brush and flipping eucalyptus leaves and rocks my the wheels found the best-worn-path in the graham cracker dirt.
I don’t even recall the sounds of the forest as I made my way through it, though I’m sure they were there; – to me, all was silent in the world but the sound of my heart beating in my chest, my breath seeming to navigate the bike down down down down the incline to the place where the trail ended. Then, with sweat pouring into my gloves from my wrists, and into my socks from my calves, I spun the bike around and turned to face the sun, which seemed to be setting directly behind the tremendous climb that stood between home, and I. Without much thought, I began to turn the crank again in the carpet of woodchips covering the trail. Sliding back into my seat and pressing my palms into the handlebars the climb came, and went, wiggle wiggle, and then another, and another, wiggle wiggle bump bump, as I headed back from whence I came, droplets of effort dripping onto my thighs, the evening sun eclipsing the trail, and a smile spreading ever wider across my face.
I had this sneaking suspicion that I would love the feeling of riding two wheels off road…and I couldn’t have been more right. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a mountain bike and now that its here it feels as if riding is all new again. The most existential cyclist can say that each inch of any bike ride is a new challenge, but this takes on a whole new meaning when your brain literally begins to use your body as a conduit for communicating with the terrain. This “communicating with the terrain” means something completely different when you’re bouncing down a bouldered descent as opposed to rolling down obstacle-free asphalt. Both are glorious, in their own way.
I’m going back tomorrow evening to enjoy the remains of the day in the hills. It’s only been a couple of weeks but literally, when thinking about how to spend a Friday night, this is the only Happy Hour I can think of – the one on two wheels, getting lost amongst the trees. If a weekend is a celebration of continued survival, what better way to practice living in the moment – literally, living in the moment or getting bucked out of the saddle trying – than with a little ride that starts with the whirl of the wheels and ends with the choreographed beating of a happy heart.