Category Archives: Mountain Biking

Two-Wheeled Descent

Mammothsign

One of my more vivid childhood memories involves my pre-teen self catapulting over the handlebars of my dad’s bike onto a gravel-specked downhill curve the afternoon before my first day at a new school. Nice, huh? Nevertheless, a friend talked me into mountain biking down an actual mountain a few summers ago.

shuttle

We were in the right spot. Mammoth Lakes, California is a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts of every variety. The Eastern Sierra mountains cradle the quaint ski resort which is bordered by both the Ansel Adams and the John Muir National Wilderness areas. The snow-covered uppermost trails were still inaccessible, but a shuttle took us to the halfway point and the start of our descent.

trailhead

I kept a firm hand on the brake as we hit the Downtown trail. Boulders, tree roots and tight sandy turns kept me balanced to the back with every available reflex at alert (I’m missing a couple of key agility components).

trail

Confession: I was terrified. But, the beauty of the forest and distant mountains against the bluest sky and the enthusiasm of my friend were encouragement enough to stretch myself just a little more.

trail surface

Once I’d conquered a couple of sandy turns without plunging over the side, I felt brave enough to roll over the obstacles. Not all of them. Not yet… I inched around a couple heart-thumpers thinking “next time.”

The ride was a terrific work-out. When we finally bounced back onto the road into town some two hours later, completely exhilarated, my whole being did a slow exhale. I’d rolled over my fears and been blessed with an intense sensory experience to forever mark the moment.
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Can’t Bike it? Hike it.

An In-Town Tourist Feature:
…because Adventure begins in the heart and Travel starts at the end of your own driveway.

 

In another month, I would be risking serious injury and the rightful wrath of serious cyclists. But with only the beginnings of a winter thaw underway, there was little danger of running into two wheels on the Alum Creek mountain bike trails this past weekend. So we hiked the intermediate trail bike-less and enjoyed a uniquely lovely bit of central Ohio woodland that would be rather difficult to photograph when used as intended.

I’ve mountain biked once -in Mammoth Lakes, California. Loved it. Felt lucky to be alive -and felt fully alive, when my feet finally touched ground at trail’s end. Flying through stunning flashes of tall pines and vivid blue sky -it had felt a little like my first time driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Knowing there was a gorgeous view to my right or left but acutely aware of the danger of lengthy admiration and left to to gather it all in with but a hasty glance here and there.

Trekking up and down hills and along the ridges of the bike trail in Alum Creek State Park, I could sense the adrenaline released into those woods and felt a twinge of lingering challenge. I also felt just a little lucky that this time my glances could grow into gazes and that I could focus not only my own eyes, but my camera lens as well.

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