Bicycle races are coming your way

All right, so I know what you’re probably thinking what a post entitled “Bicycle races are coming your way” is doing with a photo of someone (namely me) having a grand old time sitting on the edge of a stream.

Well, if you’re a friend you’ve probably heard me talk endlessly about biking. All the bruises and bumps I’ve collected from a sport I’ve been at for two months, or about my incredible burger bell (which has yet to be installed back on the handlebars of my bike) or the incredibly fun times I’ve had rolling around trails in the nearby mountains and fields.

But really, let me confess.

Mountain biking is not a zen sport. This is one of those rare moments where you have the chance to catch your breath and enjoy where you’ve gone. It is not something you do if you want to roll gently along and chill. It is a test of your physical strength, your agility, and your will to persevere. It is strenuous, dangerous and extremely exhausting. I have never felt more tired than I’ve been during these four to six hour intervals of pedaling, going through mud and rocks, and sometimes carrying your whole bike through a river to get to the other side.

It is not in any way glamorous. Prepare yourself to be muddier than you’ve ever been, sweatier than sitting in a sauna, and having your hair plastered to your head like a helmet. You will be tossed, turned and battered to a state where you’re almost unrecognizable to people you love. You will become five shades darker in a matter of hours from biking under the hot sun, and weirdly colored because of the difference in exposure.

You will be thirstier than a camel going through a desert, hungrier than a woman three days into her no-carb diet. You will not care if the water has been through five different people, when you’re out and you have 10 kilometers of uphill biking to go, you take what you can get.

Your legs will ache, your wrist sore, your hands more callused than if you spent your day woodworking, after clutching the handlebars and braking for dear life. You will fall face first into rocks if you brake without thinking, bruising places you never thought would turn purple and yellow.

You will forget to laugh, stop talking, breathe like you’ve been starved for oxygen for hours. You will curse, almost cry, feel ashamed for keeping up with the group, then get to a point where you’re beyond shame and just want to get there.

You will be tempted to quit midway. Feel like your vision is tunneling and your legs fall off. You will blame whoever thought of the route for not setting a more manageable pace. You will not be able to let your mind wander, because an errant rock can send you flying off your bike. Trails will be treacherously steep or too near the edge of a 100 foot drop. You will have to think about your shifting, your speed, your angles, your exertion at one point, because you can’t give your all and not have any energy to get back.

For me, mountain biking is an extreme sport. I have never pushed myself to limits that I have crossed, broken and unbelievably pushed to oblivion.

And I love it.

The feeling of the mountain wind going through your face at 40 km/ph as you go downhill is unmatched. The view of that peak after a grueling uphill ride never more beautiful. Food tastes better after biking 15 kilometers in rough terrain. Even the same trails do not get old, if you go through them so much faster, and without accident, it’s an accomplishment. Flowing water through your shoes feels much cooler and awakens your senses after sloshing through miles of mud and rocks. Every sense is heightened, every experience magnified because of all you had to go through to get there.

Biking pushes you to places you will never have thought you would get to, and you will be so much better for it.

Here’s hoping “better” gets here faster.

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