Saturday, October 1, 2011

Best laid spontaneous actions.

My day started with a few urget woofs from one of my riding buddies.

She wanted to go mountain biking, and she wanted to do it right now. Bella and I loaded up the truck, and headed to the Wood's Gulch trailhead in The Rattlesnake.

The first few miles went by without incident, but, I'm new to the area, and I had to stop and consult the map a few times.

There are a lot of reasons to ride a knobby tire bike through the woods; fast flowy trails, the rush of adrenaline while cleaning a technical section, the pure athleticism of grinding up endless climbs, actually being able to feel your own soul, however, mountain biking is first and formost about exploring in the woods.

I hadn't really explored the Wood's Gulch trail past the logging road yet, so when I got there, I figured I keep heading up the singletrack to Blue Point. The climb is steep, loose, and technical enough, that I was looking forward to the downhill. Once Bella and I got to the top we enjoyed the view, and split a Clif Bar. I figure even Bella-the-endless-energy-herding-dog needs a snack after a steep, technical, climb.

After a little snack, Bella was reenergized, and decided to run hot laps around the summit.

Since my riding partner was ready to rawk, we pointed downhill and pinned it for 3.5 miles, flat out shredding. I kept checking to make sure Bella was with me, and every time I glanced back, there she was, right on my wheel. I got a text from Ricky Gnarmichal after every turn I railed. Until...

Sometimes, you take a wrong turn. Sometimes, you hesitate and think when you should just trust your instincts. Sometimes, your worn-out rear tire just doesn't hook up. Regardless of why I blew a corner, I did, and slammed into a rock pile hard enough to cause an instant flat in my rear tire, and also hard enough to utterly fuck my big ring...not that one should ever need a big ring on an all-mountain bike.
One does however, need a rear tire. Something I frequently tell people is: "Never ride with just a patch kit, sometimes tubes can't be patched." Tonight, I gained another anecdote to back up that maxim. The inch long slash in my tube wasn't fixable, even with four patches over it.

All's well that ends well though. Bella and I had a great afternoon/evening in the woods. I learned a little more about the sweet sweet singletrack that Missoula has to offer. And, after a sorta nasty crash, the worst thing I had to endure was a 1.5 mile hike, while my dog frolicked in the woods, chasing down unwitting squirrels.

On top of all of that, there was a gorgeous sunset while driving home from the Rattlesnake.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bike Family

All four members of my nuclear family are cyclists. But all my close friends are cyclists as well, and friends are family that you consciously choose.

When I started grad school in Bozeman, I was socially isolated for the first time in a long time. However, one of my fellow grads, Seth, turned out to be one of those people for whom cycling is more of a lifestyle/religion, than an activity. Seth introduced me to other Bozeman cyclists like John and Mason, these guys quickly became friends and brothers. Through my contact with these individuals I became intricately plugged in to the Bozeman cycling scene, and I formed meaningful social connections more significant than I'd known previously.

Several years ago John asked me if I wanted to drive to Boise ID for an alleycat called 'Liverdance'. He knew a Boise cyclist dubbed 'Charlie The Ninja', who would let us crash at his place for the weekend. I'm generally socially awkward enough, that I'd normally be apprehensive about hanging with some random people, in an unfamiliar town. But, these were cyclists, so I didn't give it a moment's thought. After a harrowing drive in an '84 Toyota, John and I made it to Boise, and beheld a shadowy figure, beside the road. 

I hopped out of the car, and threw my left hand up just fast enough to catch a Bud Diesel tallboy. Another tallboy was delivered to John, along with a command to 'slam those beers, and get your bikes out of the car, we've got 30 minutes before "last call"'. We did as told, and soon the three of us were racing fixies in the middle of the night, through a town I'd never been in before, to some bar. I don't remember if I even shook the guy's hand, but I do remember feeling I'd been accepted immediately into the pack. Upon reaching the bar, there was shaking of hands, drinking of whiskey, and talking of shit from people I'd never met, who treated me like an old friend, just because I was a fellow cyclist.

On another occasion, I received communication from MtnBikingGirl that she and her boyfriend were going to be in Bozeman. I didn't hesitate to offer them a futon, these people are cyclists, and automatically, I considered them family. When my roommate asked me how I knew these people, I replied that I knew them from 'The Internet', but they were cyclists. She was actually incredulous for a moment, until I reminded her that I only knew her because she is a cyclist, and her cyclist boyfriend had looked up Bozeman cyclists in order to find people to connect with when she moved to Bozeman. The irony was palpable, and beautiful.

I could recount many more anecdotes, like how SamH showed up at the Bozeman Bike Kitchen, and I knew in about ten minutes that he and I would become friends approximating brothers, or how Reuben and Alice met during bike polo, and then got married. But, the basic thesis is this, bike people are a pack, like a family. It doesn't matter if I've never met someone before, if they're a cyclist, I know in my soul that they're a member of my pack, they're family.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Oh yeh...That's right...I like to ride bikes

I'm a pretty mediocre guy, but I hang out with some really badass people. A couple years ago, I was riding between 8 and 20 miles per day, winter or summer, night or day. The last few months though, I've been in a hole, and I've barely been riding more than 3-5 miles per day.

But leading up to New Years, SamH continually expressed interest in a midnight, new year's eve bike ride. Before heading to the new years party, I made sure to outfit in suitable cold weather clothing, just in case a ride ensued, it was 17 below zero when I left my house.

The party went normally until about 11:30pm, until my wolfpack started girding for a cold-weather bike ride. We headed out, 12 strong, and did a 5 block route, and went back to the party. At this point SamH and Tom stated that they wanted to put on some real miles. A destination 2 miles away was suggested, then I threw out heading to East Gallatin Rec, about 7 miles away. The three of us seemed to think that was a good idea, and with reckless abandon, we headed out on a 14 mile ride, at midnight, in weather far colder than negative 10 Fahrenheit.

It was cold tonight, but midway through the ride, I needed to shed a layer, and I enjoyed every moment of tonight's absurdity. After reaching our destination (East Gallatin Rec) we decided to take the long way to The Filling Station for a drink, and I have to say, my Supernova E3 Triple served me well in the utter darkness of a gravel road far north of Bozeman.

What did I learn from tonight's midnight bike ride in sub freezing temperatures? I learned something I've always known, but forgot, I really really like to ride my bike, even in the middle of the night in the dead of winter. In fact, I think I enjoy riding my bike even more in the dead of winter, in the middle of the night. Bring that inclement shit!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Canis lupus

Fierce, lean, loyal, social predators, cyclists run in packs. 

When I encounter another cyclist, I know without doubt that they are family.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hauling stuff by bike makes me happy, ergo I laugh like a fool whilst doing so

I quite enjoy using a bicycle to haul loads most people would decide to use an automobile for. When my friend SamH decided to recrute load-bike riders to move him from one house to another, I jumped at the chance to be involved.

The person laughing like an idiot in this video is me. I definitely wouldn't be remotely so mirthful if I'd been using my car to help move my friend.

Your fossil-fuel burning conveyance is unnecessary in a world with readily available load-hauling bicycles such as the Xtracycle and the Madsen. Rethink your reality. Americans have been sold on a life of convenience that is unhealthy to the point of reducing their life-span, and happiness.

I bet you've got a bike in your garage, collecting dust, sitting next to your inefficient, oil-burning car. I'm certain you'll have more fun riding your bike than driving your SUV.

Moving by Bicycle - 2010 from samh on Vimeo.