For those who ride the trails, carve the paths to follow…
The rocks and roots, the twists and turns, the ebb and flow…
The dirt, the trees, shrubs and streams- all immersed in nature.
Riding into the unknown. The Mountain bike. Simple yet evoking.
The local meetup group, njmountainbiking posted a 15 mile ride
through Six Mile Run for Saturday, the 18th. So, wanting to get some
dirt miles in and do a bit of different type riding, I decided to break
out my Iron Horse hard tail and hit the trails at the Central Jersey
state park. Six Mile Run Reservoir, has a myriad of trails for mtb
riding, hiking and horseback riding alike.
While I am passionate about road cycling, mountain biking offers
a somewhat completely different experience. Typically nestled
amongst the vegetation and brush and streams, you are as close
to nature as possible. Not that I am a ‘nature lover’ per-say, but I
do appreciate the wondrous cascade of water over rocks, or the
majestic heights of tall trees. The quietness of the hectic world,
The trails are a place to forget all of your thoughts and worries.
A place to reconnect and exploit the pure physical nature of the
human mind and body. Although skill and speed are not relevant,
it seems passion and desire are what drive most off-road riders.
Of course skill-levels vary like in any other sport or activity, but the
great thing about mtb’ing is the comradery and friendly
atmosphere among the riders.
This was my first mtb outing of the year and I wasn’t sure of what to expect.
Besides not knowing the trails, I was not sure of my fitness level. So I opted to
hang about half-way in the group of 15 as we started out and get a feel for the
pace and the paths. Our ride leader Gary, was very experienced and knew the trails well. At first the pace was a bit stop and go, as we made sure the group stayed close for the first mile or so. By the third mile, there were stragglers starting to fall off to the back.
At this time, I moved up a bit as I felt I could ride the pace easily.
Also, this was the point where the trail began a 2 mile stretch of twisty
switchbacks and turns. I was excited to encounter this section to see what I could do. Happily, I moved up even further, now riding with the top 4 riders. The trail did not
disappoint, as the sweeping, twisty sections had us carving through narrow passages of trees, over some roots and the occasional patch of rocks. Our speed picked up for
moments, as I leaned left, leaned right and then left over and over again.
Seated or out of the saddle, pushing on the bars, clipping the apexes… it was bliss for someone like me, someone who appreciates the twists and turns, whether they are paved or dirt. Cornering is the crux of riding any two-wheeled machine. When you lean and turn in and feel the earth beneath your wheels, almost relenting, but not.
The rush of flowing through a corner, the absolute surge of excitement it brings.
It was by far the best day of mountain bike riding I have ever had.
Not that I have a lot of mtb miles logged anyway. But I was focused,
yet relaxed and able to ride well, without really trying too much. Something unusual for me on the trails. And for the last 2 miles I lead the best 4-5 guys back to the lot at a fairly high-pace. I felt strong and confident, which again was a bit unusual for me. All in all, a great day of riding and comradery. I was still grinning on the drive home…