Tuesday, April 29, 2014

First ride

My out-the-backdoor trails, April 2014.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
The first ride of the season, like the first ski of the winter, is more than just a shakedown outing. It’s the symbolic start of a new season, the closing of one chapter and opening of another. Ski season was great, but I’m ready to move on to mountain biking where just about every day can be a powder day.

There’s no better place for the first ride of the season than my backyard trails. There might be more exciting places to ride, but these are the trails I know best. No drive to the trailhead, just a glide down the driveway and 60 seconds of pavement pedaling leads to “my” 8 miles of single track. The trails here are rolling and flowy with a few twists and turns, fast and fun, perfect for logging a bunch of base miles, perfect for a quick weekend ride, a mid-week night ride, or a first ride of the season.

A big part of mountain biking's appeal to me is just being out in the woods, connecting with nature. I skied these woods all winter, but they look completely different now in a new season. The snow is gone, and there’s not much green in the woods yet. The vernal pools - one of the characteristic features of these woods - are filled with water, but the trails are dry. In fact, the trails are in great shape - one of my buds has already been out clearing downed branches and raking the trails. Midway through my ride I find the rake he's stashed and put in 15 or 20 minutes of raking myself.

I almost always ride solo here, mostly because I ride these trails when I've got a short window to get in a quick ride, like today. Going solo feels right for the first ride of the season, soon enough I'll hook up with riding partners at SMBA, Luther Forest, Spier Falls.

One of the small ponds on my backyard ride

My ride today is less than an hour and a half. I'd stay out longer if I could, but there's mulch to spread and leaves to rake at home. I'd ride every day if I could, but I've got a job, a family, a house. I could give up running and just ride, but that ain't gonna happen either. My next ride might be tomorrow, it might be next week, but those 90 minutes today are enough for now. There's a whole season of riding ahead.

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