Monday, June 11, 2012
A fresh new bike, a sticky trail and a beautiful May afternoon. What could be better? My job affords me the opportunity to pursue my passion on my mountain bike. I am usually able to take the afternoon off, when I like and head out for a ride. I was not about to let this gem of a day get away. So I packed up the car, got my bike and gear together and headed out for a climbfest on my new Goblin. I have had a few after work shakedown rides and quite a few small runs around work. But I was looking for a real test of this bikes ability. Like all of you know I am a new convert to the 29er scene. This day I decided to start with some long climbs, and long descents. I always tell the kids at work that you have to earn your turns, and today would be no different. 1000ft climbing and a little more to the valley floor on the other side of the mountain. It was going to be a good day!
The day started off like most the long climb up the mountain was uneventful. My only surprise was how fast I could complete my leg burner on a 29er, and how many tough switchbacks I was able to clean. It¹s a whole new world on the wagon wheels. After making it to the top I decided to take a trip down the Gauntlet. A favorite trail of mine that follows a long finger off the ridge and the curves around down to the valley floor. The Gauntlet has 2 entrances. ³Old and New² I decided to take ³New Gauntlet² for a spin. It is a singletrack dream. Fast ,smooth, buffed trails. Nice and tacky and plenty of elevation to lose before it re-joins the old trail. I hit all of it with stride. I may have been a little slower than I would have on a full boat All MTN rig. Once you rejoin the trail you can either head up a small freeride section of continue down the trail proper. Well my gravity roots were calling. Why not see what this bike can handle. I know what your thinking, why are you going to go ride a 29er XC bike down a freeride trail? That¹s stupid, the bike is not designed for that! I thought the same things as I was cranking up the trail to get to the start of the features. I guess my rots were in the mountain too deep. I can only stray so far from the home my tires grew up on. I needed to try it, If only once.
5 minutes later I was laying in a heap at the end of a transition at the bottom of the trail. I made it down all the features. Tables, kickers, straight gaps and some rock chatter. At the bottom of the trail a new jump had been sculpted out of clay and dirt. It was begging me to try it out. I should have known to wait till someone else was there. But the thrill was in me and I needed to try it out. Try it I did. And I failed miserably. I carried way too much speed and I was too over confident in my ability as well as the bike. I knew as soon as the rubber left the lip that I had made a horrible mistake. I was way too high and it seemed like I was not going to hit the ground again for weeks. When I finally did touch down I was a little nose heavy. I would have landed perfect if I was another 6ft back on the lander. My hand blew off the bar and stars filled my eyes. The all to familiar taste of blood and dirt were on my tongue and I was in pain. I layed there for a while taking stock of what happened and trying to figure out what was injured. My arm was bloody shoulder and hip were hurting and my bell was ringing.
20 minutes I was at the bottom of the mountain. I was in pain but also in one piece. I cracked my helmet and I can only imagine what the other riders were thinking when the passed me on my limp back to the car. I am still nursing a little pain from that day. My cuts are not entirely healed, and I need a new AM Lid. But I don¹t regret a thing. I may be getting older but I still have not learned how to stop. Getting hurt is part of the game. It lets us know our limits and pushes us to be better. I don¹t think it is a matter of riding hard enough or not. I like to think of pain as a teacher. ³kind of the school of hard knocks for mountain bikers.². it is going to guide your decisions, and influence the way you ride. Different people require different teachers. Some need gentle guidance, and some require a stern hand. I may not be as young, and my bones are no longer rubber. But for me the pain will never stop. It reminds me I am human, and I can make mistakes. When I make it out of the woods with no pain I know there is nothing more I can learn. I think that will be a sad day. For now I will be ready. For the long days in the saddle and the pain that comes with effort. I have a lot more lessons to learn, and the mountain is the only place I can be taught.
P.S. In case anyone is wondering. Yes you can in fact, whip a Goblin. Just be sure to catch the lander!
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
wrong at just about every one of my preconceived ideas on what this bike
would ride like. Wagon wheelers are by nature either super long trail
boats, stable, slow cornering, slobbering beast’s that can plow over most
obstacles in their 700c path. Or they are twitchy, slightly uncontrollable,
neurotic messes. That was how it was. 29ers sucked, they would (A) never be
as much fun as a 26² bike. (B) have a sharp learning curve to work out all
the bikes quirks. And (C) never be as much fun as a 26² bike. Once I
threw my leg over the Goblin I knew all of that was completely un-true.
The first thing I noticed was the feeling on the bike. I am sure you have
been told ³some² 29ers will give you a “certain” feeling. Some will give you
the feeling of riding a horse sitting way too tall off the trail,
compensating for complicated linkage and all the bells and whistles.
rather than 10ft above them. Initially when I got on the bike I felt
awkward. I am a die hard gravity rider. I have said it before and, well you
know how the rest goes. I like to climb and put in long days in the saddle.
But I live for the downs. The ³gnarsty² descents. So this high saddle, stiff
hardtail, big wheeler took me a few minutes to figure out. The first thing I
noticed pedaling out of the parking lot and getting onto the trail was the
feeling of acceleration. That was something I was not expecting. I guess a
stiff aluminum frame and no rear squish helps in that department. Easily
explained. Other than my parking lot observations above, I have had no prior
29er experience. Time to really shake this thing down. Lets see how the
goblin holds up to the east coast babyheads and roots!
Needless to say I came off the trail 2 hours later with a huge grin on my
face. I have been lied to all my life! Where was the slobbering Ox I thought
I was going to be piloting? Where was the twitchy nervous wreck? Yeah that¹s
right I was wrong. Completely wrong, and I was happy to admit it. The Goblin
was everything I wanted it to be and more. I am not going to bore you by the
science behind why I think it steered well, or what specific trait of the
geo gave the bike the snappy steering I was so surprised to find. I just
want you to know that it worked! I opted to give the bike an all out sampler
of trails. I planned out 12-15 miles of singletrack with a mixture of tight
tech, flowy goodness, lung busting climbs and some downright gnarly
descents. The bike came out about the same as it went in. I did put the
classic Dangerous Dan stamp on the bike, in the form of a few scratches in
the downtube from a tree that got a little too close to me in a flat corner.
Other than my classic frame testing the bike rode excellent. I was
pleasantly surprised in every area. The Goblin accelerates well and once you
are up and running the wagon wheels keep on rolling. I was a little nervous
about the cornering ability until I started throwing it into the turns.
While I like the SB8¹s this particular day was a little wet and the tires
just would not hold like I wanted them to. That is an easy change, but for
now the SB8¹s will work just fine as long as you have a small shoulder to
bite, and the confidence to put weight on the outside the bike holds like a
champ. The Tight twisty stuff is where I was the most surprised. I was able
to maneuver the bike much easier than I would have believed. The large
wheels were a bit tricky to master but once I had a few tech turns under the
rubber I got the hang of it.
I have made one change to my bike that I think made the transition from my
usual gravity/AM bike to the XC machine a little easier for me. Swapping the
stem to a 50mm gave me a slightly more playful feel. This is by no means a
suggestion. I rode the bike with the stock stem and found that the size 18²
bike I received was just a touch to long with the stock stem. It also had me
way to far over the bike for my taste. I find that a shorter stem lends
itself to my body position on the bike and my riding style. Other than that
my only plan is to set it up tubeless and start slaying single track.
Now who should buy this bike? Well ask yourself these questions and it may
help you decide.
1. Do you love to carve out large chunks of singletrack?
2. Do you like to clean technical climbs and roll over rocks and roots?
3. Do you enjoy finishing your ride with a wide smile on your face?
If you answered yes to all or any of the questions above then I can highly
recommend this 29er. This bike will work for beginners, or experienced
riders. XC, FR, DH riders, give it a shot, you will be surprised how much
fun it is to roll through the woods and climb on this machine. Check out
more info on Airborne Bikes website. www.airbornebicycles.com
On Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/Airborne.bikes
And you can follow me in my random Bike wanderings on
Twitter @ #Ridedierepeat
And of course Facebook!
Comments? Please feel free to leave a note!
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
My life has been full of thoughts like, "what the heck am I doing". Most of
the time when I say that to myself I am on the verge of something big.
Sometimes the situations are good, sometimes they are bad. Sometimes they
are life changing, and sometimes I only think they are life changing.
Getting married to my wife was one of these situations. Even though I was
scared, I knew she was my soul mate. It was the best decision I have made to
date. Once again I am in that familiar "what the heck" place. This decision
is life changing, scary, and it is going to take myself, my family and
my best friends on a wild ride we will never forget.
A little over 2 years ago Chris and I hatched a plan. We wanted to open a
bike shop. In our minds that was the end all best scenario for our future.
We wanted to be involved with bikes and nothing was going to stop us. We
have learned a lot in the last 2 years and from that initial idea we have
molded our dream into an all too real reality. If anyone were to tell you
opening a small business is easy, they would be a blatant liar. There is a lot of this business I can't take responsibility for, but I can tell you
that it is far more difficult than anyone can imagine. There are so many
things to consider like insurance, dealers, products to carry, colors to paint
the walls, how to display products, a shop location, and eight thousand
other things that you can’t plan for. It has been a second job with no pay
and lousy hours. With the support of our friends and loved ones we have been
given the strength and the encouragement to lead us to where we are today.
Our dream is almost realized.
I have learned a lot in the last 6 months of setting up this business. I am
still new to this and have very limited experience. Having said that there
are some things you should know if you are thinking of a similar endeavor.
These are 5 things I think are important. Take them or leave them. They are
things I wish I knew 6 months ago!
First, you will always encounter negative thinking. We still get a lot of
negative comments regarding our vision. The key word there is OUR vision.
It is hard to explain your dream to someone that does not understand. So
always keep your head up and take everything with a grain of salt. If you
work hard and keep your vision on the trail ahead- you are going to succeed
in accomplishing your goal.
Second, It will cost you about 3 times more than you can budget for. We are
lucky to be in a situation where we are well funded. The best advice I have
is to plan ahead for everything! That’s including the paper towels you are
using to wipe your greasy pizza hands after a long night of painting.
Third, call in favors! No matter what business you may want to open, you
will have a valuable resource that is cheap to employ. It will work late
hours with you, and it only requires pizza and beverages to keep it going.
What is this mystery tool? Your buddies! Studies have shown that friends
help friends start businesses. We have leaned extensively on our friends and
family. Many of the things we have accomplished would never have been
possible without our friends and family.
Fourth, NETWORK! I happen to think this is one of my best attributes. Never
underestimate the power of meeting people. The guy buying a cup of coffee in
front of you at Starbucks may be an investor, a graphic designer, a lawyer,
or an accountant. These are all valuable assets that you can use in any
startup business. Keep your eyes and ears open. Talk to friends and ask if
they know people that can help. Chances are if you are starting something
local they will want to help in exchange for products services or
Fifth, support is key. Friends and family can provide you the boost you need
when your feeling down. Things happen, and sometimes you will be blindsided
by unforeseen circumstances. Lean on the people you care about. If they care
about you they will boost you back up and make sure you get back on track.
Plan on this happening to you more than once. That is what friends are for!
As the time to open the doors to the public draws near, my anticipation
grows. So do my nerves, and my realization that we will never get everything
done in time for a grand opening. In just a few short weeks I will be
helping to run a new bike shop. It is surreal and scary. But it will be the
fulfillment of a dream. I feel like I should insert some quote about
reaching for the stars, or climbing a mountain. I will keep that to myself
My life has taken some turns and this is one I did not see ahead. But
this "what the heck am I doing" moment has been a awesome ride. I can’t wait
to see what happens when we actually open. I hope this can help someone out
there in cyberspace looking to open a small business. It does not have to be
a bike shop. My five points of advice can apply to any small business. But
if you are looking to open a bike shop give me a call. I am sure I will have
more than a few more bits of advice to give you by the time you read this.
I think I would be wrong if I did not thank some of the people that have
helped me along the way. The future looks bright for us. And without our
family and friends Chris and I would be nowhere. This blog has gone all
over the place. Thanks for sticking around till the end!
My wife and little girl for supporting me. Letting me be gone long nights to
paint and ready the shop. And for letting me follow all of my dreams, you
are my heart!
To my family for supporting my ideas and always standing behind me!
My friends for the help, the strong backs and the advice. For promoting our
little shop, our vision and our dream.
The Jeremy and Eric at Airborne Bikes. Thanks for the advice and support.
You may not know it but you guys helped shape some of our decisions! You
To the Flight Crew for the support and the positive feedback when I need it.
Jason at Kali Protective’s for giving a small time shop a chance. And for
believing in our vision!
Chris and Flick at KHS. 99% of big name company’s would not give us the time
of day. You guys gave us the boost we needed when we were getting worried
about a brand. Thanks for the support. We can’t wait to work with you in the
To Blue Ridge Gravity for letting us be a part of the scene with you. Good
luck in 2012. Keep it Fast and Loose!
To Roanoke city and the Grandin village for welcoming us into your
Please check us out on Facebook and keep an eye out for all the new and
crazy things we have planned for this year! Please let us know what we can
do for you!
Now go ride a bike!
Thursday, January 19, 2012
join a new company. This company was re molding itself, changing it¹s
direction, and looking to re emerge as a fresh take on a bike company. I was
not joining this company as an employee, nor the CEO or some high up VP of
something or other. I was given a chance to join as a regular guy who likes
bikes and wants to share it with everyone. 2 years have passed, and
Airborne Bikes has grown. Sea Otter has come and gone as quickly as both years. Now once again it is that time of year when Airborne
opens the gates and looks for a new flight crew. I thought that I should share
my story on how I got chosen to be a member of one of the best teams in the
I don't recall everything perfectly clearly. But I do remember where I was and
why. I was sitting in a recovery room at Roanoke Memorial Hospital in
Roanoke Va. I had been awake for right around 4 days with little to no
sleep. My mind was racing after the birth of my daughter, not to mention the
nurse coming in every 30 seconds to check on my wife and new little bundle
of joy. Needless to say I was not going to sleep. The sun was still below
the horizon, and February 18th was still new. I was doing what every new
father in my situation would be doing. Surfing the web-er-net, while my poor
wife recovered from a very long and painful 4 day labor. I don¹t know what I
was looking for but I was of course reading biking websites. Pinkbike,
VitalMTB, MTBR. The usual suspects. I remember coming across a news tag
that said something about a new company looking for riders, I could be the
next one, blah blah blah. I decided to look it over. I remember reading
that getting selected would win you a chance to go to Sea Otter, a new bike,
some go pro stuff and a spot on the Flight Crew, "whatever that is.
I remember looking at my wife and the newest member of the family, Izze, and
feeling like I should give it a shot. Not much was required other than some photos, an essay, and a video if you were feeling creative. I wasn¹t, but I thought I
would write an essay. I had never been epically good at writing, but a
chance like this does not come around very often. I typed away trying to put
to words why I would be a good member of the Flight Crew, Why I deserved a
bike, and why I should be among the ones chosen to go to Sea otter. Spell
check, title, and SEND.
A few short months later I received a strange scam mail. It was from a
gentleman claiming I entered a contest to be on a bike team, and that I
needed to call him right away to chat and get the necessary paperwork out to
me. I immediately deleted that email, only to un-delete it and call my co
worker Steve over so he could read it for himself. He told me to call the
number. Before I did that I did a little homework. I looked up the company
sending the email and it seemed to check out. Next I looked the name of the
sender up and it checked out too. Well only two things to do, pinch myself
and call him up. 15 minutes later I hang up the phone and continue to pinch
myself. Yeah it was real alright. I quickly call my wife, my best friend, and
quickly lord it around the office that they were in fact looking at one of
the new members of a brand new bike team for Airborne Bikes.
The next month or so were a blur. I had to patiently wait for Sea Otter, and the chance to
meet the 9 other new members of this team that I was to be a part of.
Sitting here 2 years later remembering all of that makes me laugh. It has
been quite a ride, and one that I do not want to give up. I am planning on
completing my 2012 Flight Crew application and throwing it back in with all
of you who chose to take the opportunity. It has been an amazing time for
me. I count my inclusion in the Flight Crew as one of the top spots in my
career. I have been given opportunity¹s not many people get. I will not
make you sit through me bragging about what I have been able to do. But I
will say thank you. Thank you Jeremy, for the advice, and the good times at
Sea otter, and Snowshoe. For shedding a little light on the process of
creating bikes. And even letting me weigh in and share my views, and ideas.
"even if they are crazy". Thanks to Rick for your help in this years process
and your years of experience and knowledge you are willing to share. Thank
you to Eric. For your wise remarks, the friendship, and the free beer
when I beat you down the mountain.
Airborne is now part of my life. If I continue on the Flight Crew or go a
new way I am always going to remember my time serving them. In just 2 short
years I have seen the company grow and change. I know that Airborne will
only get bigger and better as the years pass. The super secret stuff I am
lucky enough to see is very exciting. It also validates that Airborne not
only cares what The Fight Crew has been saying but also what the public has
been calling for. I hope my story has been interesting to some of you, and
maybe even inspired some of you to give the Flight Crew a shot. It is
something you will never regret. Good Luck and I hope to see you on the
crew next year!
Flight Crew Member
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
5:30pm December 18th I have just finished a pretty amazing ride. It wasn’t long, or particularly grueling. But it was just what I needed. I pasted my legs with a fresh coating of mud, I drenched myself in sweat and I got a good 12 miles of single track in. The weather was perfect, the trails were wacky tacky, and my Zeppelin was working like a champ. Driving home my wife calls to say my parents are going to pop over for a few minutes. What happens next is a complete shock. And before I go on let me back up and give you some background on my father and growing up on a farm.
My dad has owned horses from most of my life. He puts his blood sweat and hard earned cash into all his furry friends. I have grown up with them learned to ride them, feed them saddle and tack them. I know how to clean hove’s, I know which ones are safe to feed with your hands, and I know which ones like to bite. I myself have a fondness for them and regularly visit them at “The Farm” which is about 2 miles from my house. If there is one thing my dad lives for it is riding. He regularly rides his horses on anything from a few hours to multiple day rides. Recently he took a day trip to Douthat state park. A great riding, and hiking location that is open to horse travel about 30 min from the farm. The repercussion of this ride is what greeted me when I walked in the door.
“Me” Hey Dad, Hey Mom……
“Dad” Hey Sprocket Fairy…….
“Me” Oooookay what was that for?.....
”Dad” You bikers are not easy to work with on the trail….
The ensuing conversation was kind of a back and forth about horses and bikers. I could not believe my Dad of all people would act this way. He was a little upset with the action of a MTB rider he met on the trail. Trail edict says bikers yield to horse riders. This is a rule I understand and agree with. Horses are living breathing animals with thoughts and fears. They can easily throw a rider or hurt someone if you spook one. Growing up with horses I have had the pleasure of being thrown multiple times. The smart thing to do as a bike rider is to stop and ask the horse rider what they would like you to do. Stay off the trail, let them pass. Or let them move so you can pass. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this. It is a pain, and it’s something I would rather not have to worry about, but they are entitled to the land just like we are. This particular biker did that. But then continued to harass my father about other issues. My Dad claims he made a debate about the damage a horse does to the trails, the mess a horse leaves behind and how it’s not polite to leave poo on the trail. “Us mountain bikers don’t take a crap on the trail”. I love my Dad very much. I tell him every time I see him. But the way he was attacking mountain biking got to me. First I start telling him how it is a pain to be riding down a trail only to run over a juicy cleveland steemer sitting in the middle of the trail. I have personally gotten horse poo-juice in my mouth. “I am a mouth breather” And it tastes like it smells. It gets on your bike, your clothes and all over everything. All he had to say was this “You have things on your bike called handlebars, use them!” That’s not the point. I don’t think I should have to dodge poo on the trail. You can’t leave dog poo wherever you want, so why is horse poo ok to leave out on the trail? This was a question he was not able to defend. Next I moved onto how his horses destroy the trails I spend so long to help create. After storms I get off my bike, clean away debris. I dig trenches to get standing water off the trail. I throw dirt on low spots, armor the trail and move trees when they fall down. What help do horse owners provide to the trail. I have never seen them out on a work day. And I would know, because I am there. After that rant I started gaining a little ground back on my Dad. I start in on the ever popular weight issue and differences in a bike and a horse. He never really gave up. He still thinks that Bike riders as a whole are hard to deal with but after sitting and talking about this for around an hour, he conceded that there are issues on both sides. I hate to admit that he is right. I think a large amount of the cycling public does not know how to deal with a 1200lb horse. I think even less of the horse riding public know how to deal with “spandex wearing sprocket fairies.” To really put this problem to rest people need to be educated. I think 90% of the riders out there care and respect any trail users. There are going to be a$$holes in any crowd, including mountainbiking. I think this problem stems from a few guys that really resent what horse riding is all about. They confront horse riders and ruin it for the rest of us. I personally try and give them as much courtesy as I can. It does not make up for the lack of respect by some of our 2wheeled brethren, but I think it helps. He agreed that there was the same issue on the horse side as well. I think that this issue like so many other is due to a lack of education, and or understanding. Sure there are some things we both need to work on. In the end my Dad and I were able to hug it out. He offered to bring a horse along for me next time he was out at our local riding spots so I could experience for myself. I told him only if he wears lycra and comes on a “Bike” ride with me. I don’t think he will ever take that ride, but I do think he will be able to deal with these type of situations better. Until we resolve this, or mountain bikers and horse riders have completely separate trails, we need to do our best to get along. So this is my attempt at the start of a new way of thinking. If you read this and disagree with me please let me know. But if you understand, and want to see a change, then treat the horses with respect. Be polite, and take the initiative to promoting education in your area. Imba always knows the right thing to do. Check out their rules of the trail “Specifically number 5” Or check this link out http://www.imba.com/resources/risk-management/shared-trails
Even with education, I still hate riding over fresh horse poop…….
Friday, November 11, 2011
I just spent 9 days on the most epic trip I have ever been a part of. I hung out with my best friends in the world, swapped stories, quoted youtube videos, and ate a lot of food cooked over an open fire. We rode over 130 miles on over 15 trails in 2 states. I took hours of video and spent hours editing and re living the nonsense we captured. So why is it now a few weeks later I can’t put a few simple words on a page to talk about the trip I spent so much energy time and money on? I have been regularly sitting in front of my computer and staring at a blank word document. The rest of my blogs have flown out of my brain and onto the page with no work necessary. Talking and writing about bikes is fun! It’s something I can easily put myself into. So why is it now so hard? I started really putting thought into why I can’t come to describe the epic-ness of my trip.
On any sort of epic trip, or at least the trips I am a part of we always have multiple inside jokes, and stupid little nuances. I have found it hard to translate the fun we have with a stupid phrase or an inside joke to any of the info I have written yet. Our seemingly random banter and ridiculous, constant quotations of “The Honey Badger takes what it wants!” Or accounting the time we ruined Breakfast because we cracked all the eggs into one pot and the last one was rotten inside. Stuff like that does not make for interesting reading. The epic riding and amazing experiences on the trail is what I feel like the public wants. But how do I express how amazing it was without all that BS thrown in the middle? It’s like making a pizza and forgetting all the cheese. The stupid jokes and the random quotes, the inside jokes and the pranks is the cheese that sticks to all the toppings. It binds the trip together. It’s all connected like that really long strand of cheese that refuses to let go.
Don’t get me wrong, I can write about how beautiful the mountains were and the views that go on forever. But I can’t make you feel the gratitude for the people around when I was experiencing it. I can Tell you about how gnarly the whole enchilada was, but I can’t make you feel the thrill of chasing Jerry Hazard down a ridiculous line, surrounded by boulders and a 300ft drop off into the Colorado river. I wanted to express it all so badly, I gave myself a sort of writers block. Every time I started putting words to paper it seemed so empty, and hollow. My words felt like concrete coming out. I wanted to be excited and let the words flow. All they did was get stuck on the way out and block the way for the rest. I kept coming back to all the times we spent around the fire, sharing a meal and talking about the day. The Nicknames we gave each other. How dirty we all got, and how nobody wanted to pay for a shower. That’s where my head was at, and that’s what I wanted to express. So instead of me wasting your time and mine, putting empty words to a page. I wanted to explain myself. On this trip we saw some amazing things. We rode some world famous trails, and cleaned some stuff that we would not normally try. We saw the amazing views, camped in a beautiful landscape, and lived the dirtbag dream for just a few days. But to me all the views and trails were nothing compared to the time with my friends. The stupid jokes and rest is what really made this trip. Contrary to what most people would have you believe. Mountain biking is more than the ride the trail and the bike. For me it’s the little things that make this sport worth sinking all my money and time into. So if you want an account of the epic-ness you need to look elsewhere. You can’t get that from me. I suggest going out and making your own experience. All the little stuff makes the views better, the food tastier, and the memories sweeter. If you still don’t get it……well “I guess you had to be there”
Monday, October 3, 2011
When I was younger I hated the fall. The long shadows, and the cool wind blowing down the valley always made me feel blue. I hated the fall colors and the stupid back to school sales. All that meant to me was that I would have to go back to school. The thought of sitting indoors on a beautiful day made me sick. Fall in Va always came with a bit of rain. Not enough to ruin any plans but just enough to be annoying. As fall drags on, short sleeves and shorts turn in to flannel and jeans. The wind gets more of a bite, and the days grow way to short. By the time I was home from school, and scrawled down some nonsense as a substitute for my English homework, it would be too dark to do anything. The only thing left for me outside was dead leaves and the low sun in the sky.
Summer used to be the only season that mattered to me. As I get older I can appreciate them all in turn, fall epically. These days I look forward to the cool breeze. I put on my jeans and flannel, and wrench on my bike. I clean the mud that spatters the down tube, and shine up my Airborne after a long refreshing ride. It’s funny how our tastes change over the years. Like a kid who hates his veggies, only to find out how amazing green beans taste with some texas pete. Thoughts of sitting inside on a beautiful day still make me queasy. But now there is much more than dead leaves and a low sun.
Even now 15 years later, my memory can be triggered when I see long shadows, or when the wind blows dead leaves out of the trees. Only now the hate I had for the fall has shrunk away. Kind of like the grinch’s heart. Now that little nugget of hate is kept at bay, with my bike. The long shadows and cool wind of fall no longer make me mad. They refresh me like nothing else can. Ripping through trails you can almost feel the change happening. The air calms the burn in your lungs, and the colors on the trees are better than any HD TV I could be watching. Even the sounds of riding changes. The dirt gets cool and moist from the fall sprinkles that come down the valley. The air seems to flow through the trees easier than the stuffy, hot summer air. The dirt gets tacky in all the right places, and a new dimension opens when wet leaves are added to your favorite corners. Instead of a short sleeved jersey and some baggies, it’s knee warmers and merino wool. The mornings are crisp, and the nights beg for a wood fire. The fall brings out the best in the mountain bike world. Spring may be a time of excitement, new products and brand launches. The trails are clogged with spastic riders itchy from a long winter of frozen night rides. The fall is a trail riders season. A time to enjoy the few rides you have left before the big chill sets in. The leaves may be falling but there is no shortage of beauty on the trails. UCI Dh is done for the season, interbike has crept by and all the gravity parks are planning for winter. We don’t need that stuff in the fall. Mother nature is throwing a party of Her own.
I no longer feel blue when fall blows in. blue jeans and flannel are now a comfort to me instead of a slap in the face. The days are short but sweet. The colors don’t look dead to me anymore. The cool wind is a welcome relief, and the long shadows signal an urgency to enjoy the days to the fullness. Welcome back fall. It’s good to see you again.