The Cycling Cycle
Although I’ve been mountain biking since I was a teenager, that activity has never teetered toward mundane. How could the exhilaration of aerobic accomplishment accompanied by the beauty of remote landscapes and a touch of danger ever get old? It’s a stupid question so don’t bother trying to answer it.
Once the lingering bits of stubborn snow finally receded last spring, Jason and I went mountain biking as often as possible, too many times for each of our adventures to warrant its own fuss. Instead, all those experiences have been lumped together into this giant tribute to a summer of marvelous cycling.
The first trail we hit this year, outside Moab of course, was Big Springs Hollow in Provo Canyon. This ride has a relentless uphill portion but the trip down, through lush meadows and pleasant woods, is completely worth that exertion. We took our friends Adam and Abigail with us on this inaugural occasion in hopes that it would convince them to continue their pursuit of pedaling and perhaps it would have had fate, and a bridge, not intervened. Abigail swerved around a corner too fast while descending the mountain and skidded off a rail-less bridge into a healthy bunch of stinging nettle growing brookside. This bridge was only a couple of feet from the ground but, since it was Abigail’s first mountain-biking tumble, she was pretty shaken by the affair and completely convinced that the plants she’d encountered were poison ivy. (They were not. If you doubt me, I have photographic proof and would be happy to share it because I am a pesky know-it-all.) Needless to say, Abigail has not expressed interest in riding with us since. For some, the dangers of mountain biking are all very well until they actually become dangerous. Maybe someday Abigail will forget that mountain biking hurts and concede to try it again.
Besides Big Springs Hollow, Jason and I rode many of our other usual paths this year: Lambert Park, Mill Creek Canyon, Corner Canyon and American Fork Canyon. Most of our rides were pretty uneventful with just the usual scrapes and some mouth-dropping scenery but a couple were a little more out of the norm.
We hit Lambert Park in August, about three or four days after a rainstorm, and were quite surprised by the condition of the landscape. Some of you may recall the giant fire started near Lambert Park in 2012 that consumed a greater part of the mountain and threatened to burn a number of enormous homes. Well, due to the barren hillsides left in that blaze’s wake, what had been just a little summer rain for everyone else in the valley had become a mudslide and flooding threat for those singed foothills. We were astonished to find that the area had been disfigured by floodwaters only days before our ride. Huge expanses of bush and grass had been ripped out and washed over, parts of the trails that used to dip and rise had been leveled and thick muck had filled the gaps between the trunks of startled trees. It was boggling.
The last biking excursion that bears mentioning is one we took up American Fork Canyon in October. It had become uncharacteristically cold earlier that week and had snowed in the mountains. But, thanks to a few rather warm days, we thought we’d have a pleasant and snow-free ride. We were correct in assuming that there wouldn’t be much white stuff left but we ran into a different problem on the side of the mountain shaded from the sun: mud. I’m not talking about a miniscule layer of dirt that gets your toes a bit grimy, I’m talking about sludge so deep and viscous that it builds up on your tires and gears until your wheels won’t turn anymore. The most curious part of this ride was not the thick mud though but Jason’s lack of it. Anytime we go mountain biking I somehow end up 10X grubbier than him but that disparity was further amplified on this occasion. While Jason did not remain muck-free, he and his bike never looked remotely like they had been dredged up from the swamp that had swallowed me. We were biking the same trail and I weigh significantly less than him so how is it that my bicycle became so covered in filth while his only got a little splattered? I fear that some mysteries of the universe will never be solved.
We had a lovely, and mucky, time cycling in some picturesque surroundings this year. From the vibrant greens of spring grasses to the flaming leaves of fall, the world always looks better on the seat of a bike.