Thursday, January 2, 2014

D minus 39 - Starting the New Year off right!

First of all.....HAPPY NEW YEAR  to all of you!  Everyone celebrates the New Year in their own way.  One of my favorite ways is to go mountain biking first thing New Year's morning with good friends.  I haven't been able to do that for a few years, but January 1, 2014 I did.  Back in my workaday life I rode on a regular basis with 3, or 4 people most weekends in the local Southern California mountains.   This year I joined my long time friends Paul and Brenda along with a few of their MTB friends, Ryan, Mark and Adam.  Adam is only 9 years old, and weighs maybe 50-55 pounds.  His bike weighs close to 30 pounds.  Paul is thirteen years my junior, and the rest are 18 to 25 years younger.  As soon as we got into town I was getting invites to ride from Paul and Brenda, but I knew I was in no shape to ride with them, but that desire to want to be able to ride with them again and at least not embarrass myself was a strong motivator in my recent weight loss and getting more physically fit.  

About 3 days before New Years I got a text from Paul asking me to ride with them on New Years morning.  I thought it over for a few minutes before replying "Yes" to Paul.  Even though, in my mind, I thought I was ready, I still had doubts as I prepared my Intense 5.5 MTB to be ridden for the first time since last April in West Virginia, but I was committed.

Since I still have no way of transporting my bike (that will be taken care of Thursday, or Friday) Paul agreed to pick me up and transport me to Chino Hills State Park Wednesday morning, and was there right at 7:30 to do so.  I started mountain biking in Chino Hills back in 1989 with my good friend Steve Schenkel.  After just one time out I was hooked, and was there at Chino Hills State Park every weekend for years riding.  Back then mountain bikes did not have ANY suspension, front, or rear.  Back then you could buy a decent mountain bike for about $500.  Now a good full suspension mountain bike might cost you upwards of $4,000.  It was not uncommon back in the 90's to have a mountain bike that was worth more than you car.

 Back in the mid 90's in Chino Hills State Park with my first full suspension bike - Proflex 752

Mountain biking was a big part of my life prior to going full time in our Newell, and though I now do most of my riding on a road bike, my heart will always be somewhere on the local mountain trails....

Left to right in back: Mark, Clarke, Paul Ryan
Left to right in front: Adam and Brenda
Little Adam....we had just finished a 3 mile climb up an 8% grade

Paul and I at "four corners"

Brenda and I

 I couldn't be happier with how I acquitted myself Wednesday.  This skill set is still there.  It is difficult to relate the feeling of exhilaration as you crest over a hill and see a 100 yard, 20% "drop out" stretching out before you, and the long run out just beyond where you can just let the bike go reaching speeds up to 40 miles an hour that will carry you up the next hill to the next descent....the thrill of carving through the serpentine turns standing on the pedals just steering the bike by leaning this way and that.  I have ridden my mountain bike all over the country, and these single track trails with names like Bane Ridge, Raptor Ridge, Bovinian Delight, Telegraph Canyon, and Southridge are still my favorite trails.  Perhaps it is because I know every turn, every dropout, every sudden steep climb, every rock, every bush on each of those trails.....there are no surprises....just pure, unadulterated joy.  No doubt you can see the joy on my face in the above pictures.  I never imagined years ago that at age 64 I would still be riding at this level, but am so thankful for having a body that allows me to do so.

Brenda drove me back home to RJRP where she had a chance to chat with TLE for a few minutes before heading home.  Even though TLE does not mountain bike with us, she and Brenda have become good friends.  It was a great start to 2014, and it only got better.  I watched a few Bowl games, including the Rose Bowl game between Stanford and Michigan, which was a great game right down to the final two minutes when Michigan made a great fourth down stand to win the game by 4 points.

Thanks for stopping by!

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