Monday, January 21, 2013

Sacre Bleu!

One of the best things about new people in our lives is how they often end up challenging us to go beyond ourselves, doing things that would never had occurred to us previously.  The Velomihottie and I have been together a couple of very enjoyable months now, and one of the things that initially attracted me to her was that she seems to enjoy cycling about as much as I do.  She is much more a cyclist of the Mountain Biking variety than I have ever been, but has been reasonably good, giving and game, to use a Dan Savage expression, to indulge me by joining with me on a couple of road bike rides.

So it was that I felt a similar need to giving Mountain Biking with her the old college try. I'd been poking around the interwebs, looking at various entry level and used mountain bikes.  Happily, the Velomihottie pointed me in the direction of the Bridgestone MB line, and a quick craigslist search turned up an old MB-4 for sale from Sprocketts Recycled Bicycles in Interbay.  A cursory test ride and $125 later, I was the proud owner of this fine retro steed.  Further poking around on the interwebs, courtesy of Sheldon Brown's fine work, revealed it to be circa 1992.

1992 Bridgestone MB-4

We decided that Sunday would be a fine day to pop my MTB cherry, and we soon found ourselves at Duthie Park up in the Issaquah Highlands for my initial ride.  The day was foggy and quite chilly, with ice on the sides of the trail, but the trails were mostly dry as a result.  My first initiation was on the Boot Camp trail, and I was mostly able to not make too much a fool of myself as I repeated my mantra of, "rubber side down."  The riding and companionship were both very enjoyable, and it seemed I learned new skills with each corner.  For instance, I was advised to look only where I wanted to go to avoid banging into things or falling off the trail, and I also found the rapid changes in gradient and incredibly tight banked switchbacks to be very challenging.  The uphill corners were initially very hard for me to keep the front wheel down on, but I soon learned that actually dialing back my effort enabled me to steer through the corners.

A foggy day in the woods.

We rode both the Boot Camp and Moving Up trails twice, and the second time on each revealed that I had more confidence than the first.  I love the steep part of the learning curve when one is first trying a new activity, and I seem to have a natural inclination to dive right in.  This led to the only violation of my mantra to keep it rubber side down, after I saw some kid wheelie past us and decided to attempt a wheelie of my own, landing flat on my ass.  The issue, it seemed, was not in getting the front wheel up, but in keeping it down.

Going just fast enough to be blurry.

After this, we had a final run on the Moving Up trail, and I started to notice that I was fatigued and losing the ability to focus on my new found lessons, making silly mistakes of some of the lessons that I had just learned.  Nonetheless, it was a very good workout that elevated the rate of the old ticker on multiple occasions.  Moreover, riding the trails and mostly keeping up on such a retro machine made me feel somewhat badass in an old school way.  I went to sleep last night with visions of mountain trail switchbacks still dancing in my head.  I will definitely be going Mountain Biking again.

Trail Map - Next time we'll hit something just a bit more advanced.