Mountain biking no matter what

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Todd Gilchrist posted a good article on his blog titled ‘Lessons from Mountain Biking’ that got me to thinking about the times I’ve foolishly decided to ride when my equipment wasn’t really ready to go. For Todd this meant sticking out his ride despite a bent low-gear sprocket just 10 minutes into the ride – a real dilemma if something like this has never happened to you.

For most of us going for a mountain bike ride is a bit of a production. First of all, there’s all the gear you gotta pack up: bike, helmet, shoes, gloves, shorts, jersey, water, extra tubes, tools, pump, Clif bars, GPS, camera, etc. After getting all this in the car most of us drive to the local trailhead where we reassemble said gear before finally getting on the trail. For me, this whole routine can easily take over an hour just to get to the closest dirt which makes a ride feel more like an investment.

So, like Todd, one day I found myself at the start of a ride with a problem: I forgot to pack the shoes that fit my clipless pedals. I was planning on riding up High Drive in Colorado Springs which, though not singletrack, is a serious climb that rewards those with the ability to utilize a full pedalstroke. Needless to say I was ready to ride so I took off in my street shoes, cursing myself for the first five minutes. But then, something miraculous happened: I stopped caring. The shoes ended up working just fine despite the tiny clipless pedal platform and now I wear my street shoes whenever I take my mountain bike on errands in town.

If you’re a regular reader you may remember these next two stories. Once on a late summer evening ride on Tsali’s Left Loop my derailleur exploded. Cage plates off, pulleys scattered, and bolts and bushings gone – all just 3 miles into the 12 mile loop. Mudhunny and I both really wanted to finish the ride so we looked for what seemed like hours for the parts so we could reassemble the derailleur. Once found, we weren’t able to properly tighten the bolts since we had no tool. But despite the risk of another derailleur explosion caused by undertightened bolts, we decided to throw caution to the wind and ride out the long way. It ended up being a fun, albeit tense, ride at Tsali.

On another occasion I lost both of my pedals during a ride. We were able to find one of them but the question was this: should Mudhunny ride down the dirt road to get the car and come pick me up? The answer by now should be obvious: No sir – I wanted to enjoy the downhill even if I only had one pedal! Riding with one pedal actually isn’t difficult at all, especially when you can clip your foot into the pedal.

Yep, it’s tough to bail out of a mountain bike ride when you’re having fun, especially for a silly mechanical problem like a busted sprocket or missing pedal. In-ride improv actually makes a trail more memorable and definitely adds a new dimension to a familiar ride.

Related posts:

  1. Light Hands, Heavy Feet: 17 Drills to Help Make Your Riding More Stable no Matter What the Terrain
  2. Mountain biking + Unicycle = Muni
  3. Mountain Biking Durango: Overend Mountain Park + Log Chutes
  4. One is Enough: Why You Should Give Singlespeed Mountain Biking a Chance
  5. Adventures in Mountain Biking at Night in Atlanta

2 thoughts on “Mountain biking no matter what

  1. I couldn’t agree more.

    Not too long ago, my buddy and I went out to do a post-work ride. BUT, my buddy forgot his shoes, too. So, we decided to have a little fun and trade bikes. He got to ride a SS for the first time, since my bike has platform SPDs and I rode his Klein.

    We had a fantastic ride.

  2. No doubt going riding can take an hour to get going and get there and get going again once the trail is achieved,that’s why my bike and gear stay in my ford explorer sport at all time’s.I feel it is the safest place for my stumpjumper and gear anyway because I can cable and u-lock it to my steering wheel overnight or at work so when I get off work or wake up on saturday or sunday morning all I got to do is stop at a convenience store and pick up a gallon of cold water and trail food.I did leave my camel bak and helmet in fruita the last time I was up there,I left it at my buddie’s place so I have been riding with my standard back pack that I carry water bottles in place of my water bladder,and I had to go buy another helmet.I carry a bike stand also,I clean my drive train evey time I ride and do it on the work stand in the parking lot at the trail head.haha,I’ve had people come up to me and ask how much it is to get there bike serviced because they think I’m from the lbs and out promoting the lbs by working on bike’s right there at the trail head,hahahahaha.I picked up the habbit up of working in the parking lot from being on a sprint race car team,being on the road for race’s leave’s them without a shop,so the parking lot at the motel’s and hotel’s are where race team’s get er’ done so the car’s are ready to race when they get to the race track.some may see this as weird or rediculous,although working on my bike when everyone is around and watching is seriously some good atmoshere for those good time memory’s in the future.I could tell some good time’s working in the parking lot on the race car or the mountain bike.more so on the race car because eveyone in the racing buisness does it.So even though I carry my bike with,I still take time to get ready,although I do it at the trail head so I can be in the middle of it all while I’m doing it,it is actually quite a different story when you can get ready when there are other mountain biker’s around that are not familliar to you and you can stop and smell the rose’s while you are getting the chore’s done.Example:a couple of week’s ago we got to the trail head about 8:00 a.m. and had the bike’s out and on the work stand,tools out and wheel’s off,chain off,pretty much look’s like a garage in the parking lot,lo and behold here come’s the vitemin water truck and who do you think was driving it??two hottie’s were out promoting vitemin water driving this huge truck through the trail head parking lot,wow what a change of pace to see this while taking care of maintenace on my mountain bike instead of at home all by myself,hahaha,anyway me and my riding partner got free vitemin water energy drink’s and took picture’s with them and chatted for about 10 minutes,we felt like it was our show that day that everyone was there to watch,hahahahaha.
    would’nt it be cool if all mountain biker’s worked on there bike’s in the parking lot like that???you can actually meet other mountain biker’s this way and stay in the community loop much better,I mean the trail’s are long and tough somtime’s so why not hold court right there in the parkin lot while it’s summer out for 3 month’s and loan or borrow a tool or tube to get out on the trail and meet your bretheran mountain biker’s.hahaha,just a thought.see ya on the trail.

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