Taking a New Path —

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I’ll try a new path tomorrow. The entry is a short slope upward that leads to a drastic drop over a dry streambed to some bottomland deep in the wood. Sharp twists and turns, exposed roots, periodic mud holes, rises and lumps – let the bike roll as you float limberly above the saddle. The path twists to the right up a sharp continuous climb. Leaning forward, elbows low, smooth stroke, Bikerlunging the bike up and over each lip – the front wheel wants to come off the path, but body position keeps it down and spinning. Physics is your partner – shifting your weight to guide the bike around rocks and protruding roots. Then into a stretch of relatively level sharp twists and turns – trees two and one half feet apart, “don’t catch your bar” – flick the bike and press as you clear the obstacles. Up over the rises and down into depressions, maintain smoothness, tap the brake, help the bar toward your chest at the sharp rise, a power stroke and up and over. The bicycle is an implement of dance and balance. Smoothness, passing down narrow trails at 20 to 25 miles an hour – floating, concentrating, alone, free. All happens quickly – momentum and gyroscopic effect also your allies. Too slow and you are stopped by obstacles. Too fast and you miss a turn – a ballet always looking ahead. Your body and your bike executing moves prompted by what you saw a moment ago. Already setting up for what is to happen next, a constant stream of consciousness yards ahead. You cannot be concerned with inches ahead. Your body and subconscious make the moves now for what you saw yards back. Technical trails do not permit the mind to wonder. Ah, the balance, the push to the edge, the satisfaction. I’ll try a new path tomorrow.

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