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It’s all downhill from here

Linda Boyne

Earlier this summer I wrote about mountain bike camp and my childhood memories of biking. But now it’s confession time: I haven’t been on my bike all summer until last week. (Insert gasp here). I know! It’s shocking.

So I decided on my one day of the week this summer that I actually have four whole hours ALL BY MYSELF that I’d ride my bike from Edwards to my favorite writing spot in Avon. It was a lovely, sunny, blue-sky day with nary a rain cloud in sight. It was such a pretty ride on the bike path along the river.

But the ride was a little sad because I seem to have lost my bike confidence, that sixth sense that just sort of lets you ride without thinking. I’m an athletic person, so it’s not like I was doing that “whoa, I can’t balance on this thing,” swerving all over the road kind of action. But I don’t trust it, and that’s the key. The Zen of biking; be the bike, feel the road.

And I still don’t know if it’s necessary for me to have my feet attached to the bike for the cycling I’m doing. Sure, it helps a little on the uphill, but I don’t think it’s worth it for the years it’s taking off my life in sheer terror. I’m not quite sure how to explain what it feels like to have my feet affixed to the pedals, not able to move about freely, knowing if the bike goes down, I’m more than likely going with it. You know the feeling when you lose footing on a gravelly path next to a sheer drop-off, the fear, the impending doom? That’s sort of how I feel about my pedal clips.

Though my bike is made for off-roading, I can’t in good conscience call it a mountain bike, because it hasn’t touched dirt since I took a mountain bike workshop about three years ago. I guess we can refer to it as a “mountain” bike. I know; it’s all just so sad. I’m quite sure serious cyclists won’t even be able to look me in the eye anymore.

Speaking of serious cyclists, I need to inject a little sidebar here. One of the things I love about living in this small community is that you can scarcely go anywhere without running into someone you know or at least getting a friendly wave from a driver or pedestrian or biker passing by. But, I have a little problem with waving bikers. While I admire their dedication, they’re geared up in cycling clothes, helmet, sunglasses, hair pulled back, hunched over on their bikes and I can’t recognize them. They all look alike to me. Unless they have their names emblazoned across their shirts, I don’t know who they are. It doesn’t stop me from waving and/or saying hi, but please identify yourself so I know who I’m greeting.

Anyway, one of my girlfriends has vowed to take me on a relatively easy mountain bike ride. She’s sure more time on the bike will help my confidence. I’m wary. I know I have the skills buried somewhere deep inside me. Clearly it’s just like riding a bike; you never forget how. But do I really need the thrill and adrenaline that mountain biking provides? Isn’t adrenaline related to the stress hormone, cortisol, which accelerates the aging process? That seems like a good enough reason to avoid it.

On the other hand, I probably don’t have too many more years that my body will allow me to punish it in that way and bounce back in a reasonable amount of time. At what age are we too old or too wise to engage in possibly hazardous activities, especially those where we could break an arm or, worse yet, a hip? Surely I’ve got to be approaching that age. Until then, do I have to toughen up and venture out? Or may I sit on my “mountain” bike on the lovely paved path and enjoy the smooth ride and the scenery?

Linda Boyne is an Edwards resident and a regular columnist for the Vail Trail. E-mail comments about this column to editor@vailtrail.com.


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