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My new bike is out of this world awesome good incredible freakazoid better than you know what (from what I can remember about you know what).  How in the world can new equipment make such a difference?  It sure seems like it has.  Maybe it is just a change of attitude, but I don’t know.

I have started taking my mountain bike with me to work, a bag with my helmet/shoes/kit stowed in my car, the idea being that I go straight to my favorite trails.  Sometimes that means going to work early with the hope that afternoon workload is light.  Thanks to smartphones and Bluetooth, I can handle phone calls in my car on the way there, any emails that may have trickled in I can answer from the trailhead and even during a break on the trail.  Planning is a necessity when there is a boy who needs a ride home from tennis practice or school every day.  Until the days get longer and light sticks around until 9 PM or so, I am going to need to be meticulous, watch the family schedule and weather report in order to get my me time (i.e. bike time).

Thursday brought the first decent bit of weather of the work week.  Monday through Wednesday was blustery, cloudy, cold.  The afternoon would be upper fifties, lower sixties with sun.  I was on my second office cup of coffee by 7 AM, visions of dirt dusting through my head, and work was going well.  The early afternoon was busy but I managed to get out of the office by 2:30, the sun on my face and the music energizing while my bike swayed from the rack on the back of my car as I negotiated I-88 on the way out to Saw Wee Kee, my happy place.

A familiar face greeted me as I unloaded my bike, put on my shoes/helmet/gloves/hydration pack.  It was a 20 something guy who I had met through a friend last year at Saw Wee Kee.  He kicked my butt when I rode with him last year, one of those single speed purists with enviable bike handling skills.  Keeping up with him had been a challenge.  We greeted each other amongst the banter of the others gathered at the trailhead.  I beamed as he admired my new ride.  The guy is one of those guys who has a number of bicycles and knows his stuff.

“Care if I join you?  Go ahead and lead in.”

Uh oh.  There would be no easing into this ride.  I would be at the front and would need to watch my stuff, keep up the pace or else have someone riding up my back side.

‘Mine’ was purring at me and she was ready.  We rolled easily up the steep, sandy entrance into the singletrack dirt trails.  I could hear the hum of tires behind me.  Focused by necessity, I went right into a zone, my bike straightening out the curves with consistent speed as we negotiated my warm up trails.  I was leaving the ground in new places along the trail, landing smoothly and in control, keeping speed.  That was a good sign of how well my new bike and I were working together.  15 minutes in, a voice behind me asked me to stop for a breather.

“You must really like that new bike.  Other guys I ride with out here take a break sooner when they ride that fast.”

“I still need to work on my handling skills.”

“Looked to me like you have them down very well.”

Just what I need, more fuel to stoke my ego.

We rode the trails for close to two hours, taking a few breaks and catching up on life, a real good ride.  I led out the entire ride.  Then it happened.  I looked over my shoulder and no one was there.  So I went back down the trail, found my riding partner walking his bike along the trail.

“You OK?”

“Yeah.  You kicked my butt.  I’m toast.”

He walked the trail back to the parking lot.

That is the way it goes with bikes.  One day you feel really good, others you feel like dirt.  Thursday was my day to feel good.

This too will come to pass.