So the addiction worsens. Finally, I've drank from the competition Kool-Aid. As if the need to just ride wasn't bad enough. The masses of riders in Minnesota only speak of racing this time of year. It's insane, the amount of people I talk to everyday that race road, cross and MTB here. The Minnesota Mountain Bike Series is kicking off next month and I've decided to join up in some of the races, including the Freewheel Frolic, at Afton Alps. The main race I planned out this year in the Lutsen 99er. Unable to get enough torture just commuting to work and taking long rides on Sundays, I need to destroy my already aging body on more aggressive single track. Der! Why must we do this to ourselves!?
What chemical imbalance do cyclists have in their brains to keep this sick, sadistic part of our thought process kicking? It's simple. As children it starts. We innocently raced each other on bikes down the streets of our respective neighborhoods and it evolved into something greater. Today, kids get real dirt comps with the running bikes and their own discipline in the races their parents attend. When I was a whee boy, in the Suburbs of Saint Paul, I attended Little Canada elementary. Behind the school, we had a large wooded area with all kinds of trail. We used to get on our Huffy bikes (if you were rich it was Haro) and pedal through those trails. No idea, this was to be mountain biking. We found pump tracks and single tracks in Como Park and fought to see who was the fastest. For only a few of us, we couldn't get enough. Only now, it's more serious of an addiction and more painful. Not to mention, more costly. My tires alone are worth as much as that Huffy I pedaled through the woods of the LC. Is it possible that those tracks still exist? I would hope so.
Personally, my job as a body piercer I see people get this same adrenal high from a simple piercing. One of my co-workers hangs from hooks, others get exercise watching football from the comfort of their TV rooms. It's the same feeling in different ways for every person. Even online shopping can score you a buzz. Personally, that piercing and tattoo stuff enough for me any longer. My body needs this torturous burn in my quads after 50 miles of single track. Perhaps it's also the need to get the giggly, whiney teenaged know-it-alls out of my head after my week of work. (I know, there's worse jobs.) For some, I have a dream job. Of course I dream of working for something like Burton Snowboards or some other fantasy land job in the mountains, but this is where I landed and it's been pretty good to me. Still a day at the office anywhere can make anyone nuts. So we need that release.
All work and no adventures make me a little crazy.
So, the reality escape is what probably makes mountain biking so appealing to so many people. It's time spent in to woods to calm, and get the heart pumping, too. Personally, I've been a snowboarder for well over half of my life. There's nothing better than taking in a beautiful view, then pounding out turns in a 60º slope of powder, dropping some pillows and getting through a skinny couloir. So what to do when the snow melts? Each year the drive to do more, faster and be a better rider gets more intense. The urges never seem to leave the mindset. Like some drugs, you can't get enough and it only gets worse. Riding the mountain bike is now the closest thing I have to replacing the backcountry snowboarding. It really works the mind and body in the same motions. A major difference is owning a climb up some gnarly switchback to claim a gorgeous view. It's worth the burn.
When I moved back to Minnesota I was going to give up on the mountain bike and just build a commuter and be just that. It's too expensive, not going to be the same as riding in the mountains. I'm over it. Once I found that Minnesota has a strong MTB community and a cares for the trails I had to jump back on. Figuring it wouldn't be as challenging as riding Colorado, Washington or New Mexico. Until I had a couple rides at some of the local trails, north to Duluth and the Cuyuna range. Riding these spots spiked my interest. It's not riding in the mountains, but it's still challenging in some places.
As if just putting in 50 miles in an afternoon with a couple friends or by myself wasn't enough...
Besides the Lutsen 99er challenge in June, there's a whole list of races by the sponsored by Peace Coffee
2012 Minnesota Mountain Bike Series Race Schedule
2012 Minnesota Mountain Bike Series Race Schedule
5/20/2012 Freewheel Frolic, Afton Alps, Hastings, MN
6/03/2012 Bluff Riders Charge, Mankato, MN
6/17/2012 Red Wing Classic, Red Wing, MN
7/08/2012 Dirt Spanker, Mt. Du Lac, Superior, WI
7/22/2012 Buck Hill Birch Bump, Burnsville, MN
7/29/2012 Single Track Attack, Elk River, MN
8/12/2012 Border Crossing, River Falls, WI
8/19/2012 The Great Hawk Chase, Duluth, MN
9/02/2012 Laddie’s Loppet Stage Race, Maplelag Resort, MN
9/23/2012 Revolution’s Single Track Escape, St. Cloud, MN
9/30/2012 St. Croix Valley Woolly, St. Croix Falls, WI
Cuyuna weekend warrior!
It's safe to say that riding in places like Cuyuna and the Duluth area is a lot like riding the Pacific Northwest and simply enjoyable. Competing or not, it's getting out and enjoying yourself. Nothing compares to the joy of winding thorough the trees, up and down hills and getting away from whatever stresses you. It brings you back to those innocent days of just pedaling around the block with your friends. Now, I see families getting on the trails and spending time outside together. It's not always the addiction to speed and adrenaline. So speed freaks, watch out for those people just enjoying the woods. So everyone on two wheels, regardless of ability and what bike they're on, that cycling is for everyone. I have to remember that at times myself BIcycles mountain, road, track, cross, commuter or comfort, it's always been cool.
We have MORC and the IMBA to thank for these places to play on two wheels without the hassle of a hiker yelling at us. Give to them if you give a damn about where you ride.
Get outside and play!