Confluence

Sometimes you get out on a ride and everything meshes together. Your bike shorts seem to fit perfectly–no binding, scratching, impinging on, ahem, certain special parts. The bike feels lighter somehow, it seems to want to stay underneath you and not get pushed toward lousy lines. The rocks on the trail don’t stop you, they merely thrust you onward and upward.

I had a ride like that yesterday, at the Apex Trail, with my friend Josh. I suppose part of it was because I didn’t think to much, I didn’t feel too much pressure to ride perfectly (where that pressure comes from, and how it sometimes goes away, I don’t know).

I pulled into the lot, parked the car, and thought to myself, I will clear all those impossible sections today.

And mostly, I did.

The nasty ramp about a half mile into the trail; the will-to-live sapping series of switchbacks in the north side woods; and riding down all the many nasty drops and narrow, dangerous sections, I bled fear outta my veins and let the wheels roll.

I have to say it was pretty cool. Considering how it went,  there are some lessons I’ve uncovered. To wit:

  1. Don’t think too much;
  2. totally don’t dread anything;
  3. always bring enough water, so if you forget one of your bottles, you’ll live;
  4. let go of the goddam brakes, choose a good line and let the bike carry you down;
  5. doing wall sits actually can make your quads stronger;
  6. ride with a buddy who doesn’t care if you ride well or not;
  7. the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hour rule is about right: the more you do it, the better you get, though you probably can’t explain why or how, so when you’ve seen the trail for the 50th time, it’s suddenly much easier than those first 49 times, which means that small lessons learned coalesce and then become major breakthroughs.

I’m looking forward to the next ride. Though I feel like I’m getting a nice, blooming summer cold.

–MJH

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