Well, I’ve got two bikes now, actually . . .
I’ve been riding a 1984 Bianchi Giro (in their brand’s classic trademark Celeste color) since, well, 1984. It’s a lovely bike and has served me well over the years, for all of my recreational biking, for long distance road trips (like the Boston to New York AIDS Ride, for instance) and for just general kicking around purposes. This was once of those bikes that just felt darn good on the road . . . and when you got into the zone of one of those great riding moments where perfect road and perfect pace corresponded, where you really felt like you a part of the bike or the bike was a part of you, then riding it was probably as close as you can get to flying. Or floating, at least.
The one problem with the Bianchi was that it did great on the road, but was pretty much lousy anywhere else. Or even on rough roads, for that matter. And as I’ve aged, I’ve started to want to spend less time on the shoulders of busy byways than I’d like to spend on roads (or paths) that don’t even support car traffic. As long-term readers of my website know, I have a love/hate relationship with the woods, but I feel drawn to them, powerfully. For the 12 years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen trails and dirt roads going into the woods a few miles from my home and have wondered where they went . . . but I never wondered hard enough to walk all the way to them to explore on foot.
But that changed today, as I got myself an early birthday present: I bought a Marin Bobcat Trail bike today. Mind you, I have no desire to spend my time climbing or rolling down high peaks in the Adirondacks or anything like that, but I do enjoy the thought of being able to ride through the woods around my house, or to ride on the rough shoulder of the road with a little bit more comfort and security than the Bianchi affords.
I took the bike out for its trial spin this afternoon, heading into the woods on a trailhead that I’d seen from the road, but never walked. It was squishy and wet and dirty and overgrown, but the bike did just fine on it. I have to adjust my riding style to it, though . . . less bending forward from the back, more gears than I’ve ever imagined I’d find a use for, a whole different approach to riding through muck than to riding on pavement. But I enjoyed the experience a lot, and know of plenty of other trails I want to explore.
As is generally the case when I go into the woods, the journey wasn’t without thrills . . . I broke in my new bike properly by going over the handlebars for the first time during my inaugural ride. I have to say, it’s a far less horrible experience on a muddy trail than it is on a paved highway. I was slowly climbing up a mild slope covered with mucky, wet leaves, standing on the pedals, and hit a concealed fallen tree limb, which stopped my front tire cold, while I kept going. The more upright posture and slower speed gave me time to tuck and roll, and I got up after the spill with nary a scratch, bruise nor strain. Glad that’s out of the way. And looking forward to more woodsy adventures.