How To Fall In Love With Mountain Biking

March 23, 2015

by Peter Reese, Matt Hayes
How To Fall In Love With Mountain Biking

Stepping outside, crisp air hits lungs on the first inhalation. It's a harsh but welcome feeling that not all mountain bikers experience. A puff of mist escapes as you exhale, contributing the faintest of clouds to the forest around you.

Some flock to the raucous sound of cyclocross racing cowbells like children after the piper. Weather forces others onto the road. Those privileged to continue mountain biking in autumn know it as a singular, magical experience.

Roll forward and hear the crunch of crisp leaves under tires. If you hadn't ridden this trail all summer, now it would be impossible to discern the track beneath the shroud of fallen foliage. For you, that concern is a fleeting one as you could nearly ride this eyes closed; left after the truncated aspen, right of the rock pile, stay low next to the lightning struck tree (but above the fern that adds a touch of green to the otherwise-browning landscape).

Employing a looser grip on your handlebars, the bike dips and slides through corners as if invisibly connected to the obscured trail.  Here, the dirt has perfect moisture content; not like Spring when everything is muddy or when Summer’s heat has baked it dry.  This is superhero dirt that grips through corners but rolls fast on the straights. Crashes reveal a measure of earthly give to absorb your infrequent miscalculations.

Spring was about training and Summer acquiesced to carbon-soled footwear with race kits. Autumn is about weekend camp trips, group rides and a touch of pumpkin in your beer. Now is when the best of the cosmos converges within the bike culture.

Camradarie with friends old and new. A last chance to experiment with tires, clusters and cranks. Running single speed. Unclipping in favor of flat pedals. Making your own dirt jump or repurposing someone else’s pile. Remembering what a rigid fork felt like without fear of condemnation. Lavishing on the chain lube. Getting (way) lost. Bonking miles from home. Doing it again.

Run a tire with some more volume and knobs now given that no one cares about rolling resistance in Autumn. Stop shaving your legs to tug on fleece arm and knee warmers along with a long-sleeve, bramble-snagged jersey. Update with some new performance tech apparel or perhaps bolt on an old-fashioned silver bike bell.

This is your time. All you need to do is pick the place. Ring, ring. Fall at its finest.


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