Friday, September 29, 2017
Well, I have enjoyed this blog, but the functionality of the blogger app is kind of limited. So, I'm moving. If you want to continue to follow this blog, move over with me to my new site.
In case the hyperlink wasn't enough for you, here it is again. http://mountainbiketrailerpark.com/
There's a newish online column for Dirt Rag up over there, by the way. But you gotta click the loink to get there. While you're there, bookmark it and come back often. There will be good stuff coming in the next couple months, I promise.
Be brave at http://mountainbiketrailerpark.com/
Thursday, August 24, 2017
So, you may already know that Mohican is my happy place for mountain biking.
So, I was distraught to find out that, sometime in July, someone removed the famous gnomes at around mile seven. Everybody loves the gnomes, so for us, this was like losing the soul of the trail.
(Heidi Coulter and the gnomes. Photo by Heidi)
There was disagreement among my Mountain Bike cohorts - some claimed the gnomes were gone, others claimed to have recently seen them.
Naturally, I had to check the situation out for myself. So, I rode out on Saturday for a one-man gnome expedition and rescue party.
When I reached the gnomes' hollow tree, the mystery deepened. There were indeed some gnomes there, but not all of them, and they had been rearranged.
Fortunately, after my ride, I received a message from my friend and badass-trail runner (and mountain biker) Lauren.
Here's what she said:
Someone threw all of them into the woods and smashed a lot of the ceramic ones. My friend Robbie Gannon, who lives near there and lives and breathes the spirit of Mohican got his friends together. They tied ropes to the trees and scaled down the side to rescue all of them.
Robbie is a die hard trail runner and so are his three kids. No one in the world cares more about Mohican. They literally call him "the gnome"
What kind of sick shit would smash and dump the gnomes? They better hope they stay anonymous, is all I can say.
Now, I'm usually only a trail runner when my bike breaks, but I do see a lot of trail runners at Mohican.
And, as Mohican 100 and OMBC Race Director Ryan O'Dell explained to me, about the Mohican 100
The race was originally born from the Mohican Trail 100 Run, at 28 years, reportedly the fifth oldest ultra run in the USA, and the home of the first ever USATF National Championship for the 100 mile distance in 2005. I became the fifth director in 2006. Early in the MTB100, it was combined with the Mohican Trail 100. At that time, with a 10+ mile road section before the singletrack trail, there were elite runners who beat slower mountain bikers to the trail.
(Photo by Josh Kunz - Ryan is in the back)
So, in my estimation, the trail runners are as big a part of the Mohican story as the mountain bikers. And, after all of this, I think they all deserve a hug.
So, fair warning to Mohican trail runners, be prepared for a mountain biker to stop and hug you. You are my gnomie homies now!
Now, what happened to the gnomes at mile 21?
(Paul Patterson and the gnomes at 21. Photo by Uncle Paulie).
If you want to read more about why I love Mohican so much, check out my latest Dirt Rag column here.
Be brave, my gnomies.
Friday, July 28, 2017
Also, COMBO's board meeting in August will be at Alum Creek Phase Two. We will have a ride before the meeting, some cookout food, and a chance to stay and hear what COMBO's up to. I think some folks may even do a night ride after. Join us!
Friday, June 9, 2017
I hate this post. I hate it I hate it I hate it.
I didn't want to even post it after I wrote it. But some tragic events have happened in the Ohio cycling community that have made my stomach sink.
And like the one-too-many beers, the post has to come out, along with some bile and the taste of self-loathing.
So, if you're not a die-hard cyclist, don't read it. You won't understand. It will cause you concern. It may reinforce your preconceived notions about why I'm stupid.
Still reading? Another warning: this post isn't funny. It may make you sick like I am.
So here it is.
I'm rattled. And I am scared lately. Too many close calls. Too many friends hurt.
Cycling is dangerous. There, I said it.
I suppose I should qualify my statement.
Riding sensibly on bike paths, in bike lanes, and on low-traffic roads are not inherently any more dangerous than any other outdoor activity. Possibly less dangerous than, for instance, hiking or rollerblading.
But the kinds of cycling that I enjoy are inherently dangerous.
Traffic is the main danger in city cycling.
Fast-paced road riding risks include getting run off the road, tangled up in a peloton, chased by dogs, and wiping out on a downhill, a patch of gravel, or a tricky corner.
Gravel grinding is, well, essentially riding on a bunch of loose rocks. Duh.
And mountain biking. Yeah, my favorite, might be the most dangerous. When you start riding, you crash a lot. As your skill progress, you crash less, but your crashes are faster and harder. Some say, if you're not wrecking, you're not progressing as a rider.
I must be progressing, because I have had every kind of wreck on every kind of bike. Some caused by me (or my lack of skills or attention), some caused by other cyclists, and I've been hit by car drivers twice.
I have had concussions, broken several bones, had many, many lacerations, and I have been rendered unconscious twice. I've suffered road rash, bruises, and dog bites. I've even been burned by a brake rotor.
I can't fully bend my middle finger anymore, and sometimes the screws in my collarbone painfully remind me of their existence when I try to use a shoulder bag. My right knee squeaks and gets stiff, my hip pops, and I'm pretty sure I'm ignoring a chronic rotator cuff injury.
Overall, I'm healthy and no lasting harm has befallen me. I'm fortunate.
In the last couple weeks, I have been buzzed at high speed by drivers, and have had a couple close calls on the mountain bike. Happens all the time, but I can't stop thinking of my friends, for whom that couple centimeters or milliseconds were the difference between eating dinner at home or not.
I won't go into details mostly out of respect, but also because describing even minor injuries to my friends pulls me into a dark place.
I have fallen into a cycle of reflection and introspection. I'm trying to understand myself (and my friends). I mean, I know it's dangerous. And I have kids and a spouse who would be deeply affected if I got hurt.
So, why do it?
Analytically, I suppose it is explained by personality. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of risk-averse to thrill-seeking. In economic terms, this is the difference between being "thrifty" and being "greedy." Some are content with a small reward, if the cost is not high. Others are willing to gamble big for a big payout.
I admit to being somewhat closer to the "thrill-seeking" side. This makes me greedy, because the potential adverse consequences are high, and would affect my loved ones, yet I do it anyway.
But this is not a full explanation. It's not just the thrill of risk that I seek.
It's the escape. I love the outdoors. When I'm in nature, I refocus, find my center, and at the same time, lose the baggage of everyday life.
And there's the adventure. The new place, the new trail. What secret surprises await?
And the challenge. Small accomplishments, like a faster lap on a trail or a smoother landing on a drop, are tiny rewards to myself. The soul-clearing exhaustion of hard and repeated physical activity is addictive.
Cycling has given me my health back. As I age, I see a fitter, healthier, sharper me. A better me than existed before.
I could make all of these things sound really meaningful, purposeful, important. It's easy - in western culture, rugged individuality is romanticized and constant self-discovery and self-improvement is applauded. Self-love counts more than love for others.
Individualism is an appealing concept; it enables self-centered behavior - and it makes for inspirational memes. Imagine a picture of a winding trail through the woods with a quote like "life is meant to be lived" or some other tag line. Heck, you have probably seen one today.
But isn't this just enabling self-centered and destructive behavior?
And don't get me started on the notion that "he died doing what he loved." Yeah, but he fucking DIED.
I'm spoiled. Riding bikes makes me happy. So, I do it. I have the money, the free time, and I'm healthy enough.
But is it really right?
I don't know. Probably won't ever have a satisfactory answer. Maybe there isn't a rational answer.
I don't want to get hurt. I don't want my friends to get hurt. But I like riding too much to stop. I can't imagine not riding. But I can't shake the cold in my stomach at the moment.
There's no message in this. No advice. It's up to you.
Be brave and be safe.