This 53 year old child had the time of his life yesterday.. until the next time of my life, probably tomorrow morning, when I can ride my precious mountain bike again. My friend, Jon, has become a serious enabler for me this time of year, prodding me to go above and beyond on the bike. Getting on a bike at any time of the year is no problem for me, but Jon does not go out for short or slow rides. So yesterday we went to the Kettle Moraine region in southern Wisconsin to ride the John Muir and Emma Carlin single track trails. We took a relative mountain biking newbie with us, a friend I have been riding with for close to twenty years, Frank. Frank is one of those guys with next to zero body fat and such a tolerance to pain that I sometimes wonder how he can survive — I have seen him get up from a crash more than once to finish a ride with broken bones and ride a punishing pace for hours when he was not in top riding shape.
In essence, I went riding with two guys who I knew would make sure I got the most out of my ride. We rode for more than six hours, fast and on some fairly challenging trails. We rode off the trails and down the road for a short lunch at a bicycle shop deli close to the trail head, then went right back to the trails for more. The trails twisted and turned with lots of climbing, covered us with grit as we rode the sand and dirt. Rocks and log obstacles greeted us all day. I rocketed around corners and jumped rocks like I was a kid again… so much that I started to realize that I am not that kid any more.
Funny how that happens. And then friends who challenge you, like my friends Jon and Frank, remind me that there is always that energy reserve I forget existed. Five hours into it, they both reminded me that there was still plenty of daylight left and we came there to ride. So we did.
We even made new friends. I came zipping around the corner to find a hog nosed snake sunning himself across the trail. The snake was at least three feet long, big enough to cover the entire trail. He picked a bad place to nap, my bike going too fast to stop and my only choice was to roll right over the surprised serpent. Jon and Frank were about fifty yards behind me, just enough to stop before they got to the snake after I yelled “SNAKE!!!”. I turned around and came back to find two spooked friends trying to coax the hissing hog nose off the trail. The snake had spread out the upper portion of its body like a cobra, hissing and refusing to budge. Slowly it crawled away, hissing angrily into the brush next to the trail.
Six hours total on the bike. Almost 4000 calories expended. 8:30 AM arrival, 5 PM departure. One..fantastic…day!