In this house are eight bicycles. Five are small and kept for the grandkids when they come visiting in summer. Three are mine. First there is the Trek road bike: it is white& light; soft to the touch & responsive to the merest pressure as you fly along the asphalt. Second is the town bike: a Cannondale of great expense; lighter even than the road bike; with few, but strong spokes; a smooth gear-change; and the lightness of feel that is eroticism writ large. Third is the Trek mountain bike: disc brakes; front suspension; thick tires; and a bounce over rough roads to delight the senses.
Today I took the mountain bike down Fisherman’s Trail, one of those beautiful paths in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. It was a warm, sunny day. Yet the snow is still atop the hills and the waterfall froze ice. You push up the road and at about six kilometers turn downslope to follow the gravel paths.
Halfway down is a rest stop. Here you sit on the picnic table and gaze in wonder at the valley and the soaring surrounding hills. Here you chat briefly with other cyclists, crazy as yourself; seeking the solitary pleasure of physical indulgence: the pleasure of muscle pushing peddle; the high trees holding infinite secrets; and the vistas of vast mountains most sedentary folk will never be privileged to behold.
Then on down. The trail is steep, the gravel large, and you bounce downhill at dangerous speed, thinking: “if I fall now, it will hurt. But what the hell? Leave go of the brakes and see if you can make it.”
Finally you come to the trail along the river. It is broad and flowing full. It goes through trees, rocks, sand beaches, and the route returning salmon will struggle to procreate and die.
The trail falls at about the same grade as the river. So you speed on down past ponds now replete with yellow crocuses. I think that is what they are. Makes no matter what their name though: they are beautiful this early spring.
You splash through puddles, oblivious of the water and mud that splatters your bike and you. You bounce over gravel beds, rising off the bike seat to cushion the ups & downs and the jolts. Your mind goes into neutral in this beauty and physical exertion and the only focus is the next rise, the next fall, the next puddle, and the next rough patch.
Finally after miles of pleasure, you come to the bridge. There to stop and let the sun bath you in warmth as you gaze at the fast flowing river. It cannot get better than this. Although you have a fleeting thought for those who cannot or will never ride here and see this perfection of nature. That is their loss, you think, and good it is so, for if it were easy to get here, there would be hoards of giggling tourists in high-heals, and who wants that? Let them go to the suspension bridges.
You fall into conversation with a slime Asian girl. She is beautiful on her expensive mountain bike as she asks of the trail ahead and behind. She is lost in these woods, but, like you, happy and ready for miles and miles more exertion.
You both return uphill to the parking lot. The way is steep and often you can do no more than dismount and walk up the steep rocky road. You laugh at this and quickly mount at the least inclination of a flatter reach. Hence back to the Filtration Plant, your car, sanity, and home for a pot of tea.
PS. At this link is a YouTube video that more or less captures the experience.