A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Mountain Bike

I bought a mountain bike way back in the early 80’s when they first came onto the biking scene. I still have that bike which is prehistoric by today’s standards. I’ve been told more than once that being a Specialized Stumpjumper model “That’s a collector’s item. You could get a lot of money for it.” Perhaps so if I had not painted and made several modifications to it over the years. Now that I live with Annadel State park (filled with over 40 miles of hiking and biking trails) right in my backyard, I thought this warranted getting a new mountain bike. I went to several bike shops kicking tires and all but wound up going back to the first one I saw – a Gary Fisher. It was one of those ‘love at first sight’ things and being hospital white cinched it for me. This bike has suspension forks (the Stumperjumper is ridged), smooth positive shifting between gears, and hydraulic disc brakes just to name a few of the improvements. None of this was even dreamed of back in the 80’s. Mountain bikes have always had 27” wheels but now there is a trend for 29” wheels as they theoretically provide for faster descents smoothing out the lumpy bumpy stuff. The downside is it is a bit trickier to ride through tight rock-bound technical areas. My Fisher Paragon has the 29” wheels and I’ve since proven the downside effect, more than once. The first two times out on the trail on my brand new bike, I went over the handle bars. I wasn’t going fast either. In fact I was almost at a complete stop trying to negotiate steep rocky sections. After determining I had not scratched up my new bike, I then quickly checked to see if anyone saw me, and lastly was myself for any broken bones. Just scrapes and bruises. Days followed with deep concerns of “What was I thinking buying this thing?” and the money spent on it. What was needed was a serious realignment of my thinking. 1. I am not 30 anymore so don’t try to ride like I did when I was and 2. I haven’t ridden on trials in over 25 years so stay off the advanced stuff. I’ve since restricted myself to fire roads. I really love my new bike and enjoy exploring new parts of the park each time out. I’ve not fallen anymore and seem to be improving upon my long lost biking skills plus getting stronger ever so slowly. Now if only there was something I could do about the chest pains on the long steep climbs.


Charlotte said...

I think the only thing for climbing is more climbing. My dad just started cycling at 62 and just keeps picking new hills to conquer. It takes a long time of trying it nearly every day, but eventually he gets them, every one.

Keep it up!!!

John @ Beans and I on the Loose said...

Since I made that post, my old bike handling skills have returned plus I can motor up the hills with no problem. I can now keep up with the best of them. Well, at least the ones around my age, or the out of shape young'ns.