I started the week with a nice ride with Trevormatic. Lately, he's been riding a difficult set of rocks near the Cascade Falls at Patapsco, going further than anybody else in the group. It's a pretty aggro bike trials-like move to cross these rocks up to where the water starts, and I caught him missing it last Friday.
ToT 73: None Shall Pass
Then on Saturday, we had the Family Bike Shop shop ride on dirt, doing a nice tour of Patapsco, with a couple and a half hours of solid riding time. We were out there nearly 3.5 hours though... because a brother's gotta stop when he sees a 25yard long patch of raspberries. Here's The Human Lung snorting raspberries by the handful.
ToT 74: Numnumnummnumnummmm....
Tim - an accomplished marathoner - later confessed that he plans his runs around berry patches too.
Then there was the family ride on Sunday. It was Wife of Rouleur's first trip to Patapsco, Son of's second trip. Son of tore it the hell up, learning how to cross logs and breaking his plastic bash guard in the process. Wife of had a good time too, going up the hills fine, getting over some of the smaller logs, and basically toasting the brakes a bit and stepping off the bike (gracefully) once or twice. We rode all of Rockburn Park's trails, then hit the Log/Lewis & Clarke/Cascade/Morning Choice / Old Track / Log loop, thence back through Rockburn Park. Nearing the pavilion where the cross race starts, she bonked, and could barely turn the pedals over as we limped back to the truck. Later on that night I confessed my pride in how well she'd ridden, and she expressed some embarassment over her speed. I told her not to worry, she was tired, and it takes time. "It's not that my legs were tired. It's that there's so much to process. I had to think through so much." I explained that's right, the beauty of mountain biking is it's very cerebral. If you ride a lot certain terrain features become part of a schema and the brain can process them very quickly. But until you've ridden logs, or particular root or rock configurations, thinking out a line is hard work. Then today, I was discussing that ride with Sven and he said when he first used to go to Patapsco, he and his buddies would ride for 45 minutes or an hour and think their ride was so epic, they'd be destroyed by it... So let me reiterate my pride in how my wife handled her first trip up there.
ToT 75: All This Thinking Is Making Me Sweat
Then it was a couple days off, and I did a Wednesday AM ride with YDT. We rode here and there and everywhere, mainly looping around the Howard County side of the park I think. Cleaned some things I hadn't cleaned before, kept it conversational but bombed the downhills and I tried to stay within sight of YDT - a remarkable climber - on the uphills. He cleaned Waterbars on the singlespeed despite the dampness and looseness of the soil. Dang. This view of a field, looking out from Connector, pretty much captures our mood on the day. Fabulous, relaxing ride (except for those dang little steep hills).
ToT 76: PVSP is a Clean and Well Lit Place
Then today I did the big loop with Sven and KR. Sven advertised it as a ZMC ride - zippy, mellow, casual - which means there's some efforts involved here and there. He's obviously super strong and KR is a superb climber, so I had my work cut out for me. They were charitable on the big ups but I managed to hold my own for the most part and we managed to do the big loop in just a couple minutes over two hours, and that included my stopping for a drink on Charcoal. After endoing into a creek and landing on my face in the rocks... Fun anyhow, real fun, and our average speed was 9 MPH, which isn't that fast but for a long loop w/t the Baltimore County side included was pretty solid. There's a few holes in my game - climbing real rocky hills is one - but it's coming around and it's good enough that I'm feeling less uncomfortable about being one of the slower guys in my group. Hey, when all your friends are super strong, you either cope, or find new friends. They're cool, so I don't want new friends, and my coping mechanism is to understand my job is to let them rest for a half minute at the top of the real big climbs, and then pedal straight through when I get there so's not to hinder the group. Hurts some but the progress is evident and it's more rewarding to ride with better riders than it is to ride alone, or to pick out a slower group to ride with and to serve as ego balm.
ToT 77: Sven's Zen
Bonus shot: first dirt on the replacement Monocog frame. Rides great, but it's definitely a more nippy (twitchy?) ride than the Monocog Flight.
New Bike: Redline Stands Behind its Products. Which is Nice.
So there you have it. The rides ranged from aggro, to Zen. They were all learning experiences, every one of them felt very different and memorable and unique. Yeah, I still love my road bike. But it's really difficult to walk away from the mountain bike in good weather. The road bike is a nice little gourmet treat. But the mountain bike is a moveable feast.
Now we dance.
How 'bout a little mountain music. Steve Martin steps in with bluegrass great Earl Scruggs and plays the classic Foggy Mountain Breakdown. And Paul Schaeffer damn near melts down on the keyboard. Sweetness.
Scruggs was a lot better known as one half of Bluegrass legend Flatt & Scruggs. Here he is playing another classic, Cripple Creek, with Lester Flatt.
The banjo is really an underestimated instrument. It's capable of really beautiful lyricism in the right hands. Here's one of my most favorite pieces of music. I can hear something like this in my head when I'm riding my bike and get onto a long country road, or get really flowing out in the woods alone. Yeah, I got some pretty weird earworms.
And of course Fleck's version of Copeland's Hoedown is just off the hook. Crazy. Hoedown - Copland's whole Rodeo suite - was composed for a ballet but stands on its own as great neo-classical music.
Yeah, that's the Beef it's What's For Dinner song. Figures I'd like that.
Sorry there's no nifty video with that. Damn, you could make a good rodeo vid with it... but the music is strong enough to stand on its own. No, I don't hear that music in my head when I'm riding. I'm not good enough musically to imagine something like that.
If you're not familiar with Copland, you'd probably recognize him from this piece, Fanfare for the Common Man.
Okay, and that's enough. Bluegrass to jazz to neo-classical... my brain hurts as bad as if I'd been mountain biking all week. Ride safe and have fun this weekend.