Sometimes, the weekly ride isn’t about the ride at all. It’s about getting out of the house and knocking back a couple of beers and a burrito after a bit of exercise. It’s an escape from the routine. The irony, of course, is that the escape becomes a routine itself. Same trails, same beer, same burrito.
It can go on like that for months at a time, without much of a variation in the routine. And then, out of nowhere, one of your riding buddies says he heard of a trail on the edge of the forest that none of us have ever ridden. All of a sudden, it’s a Wednesday night and you’re on an adventure. On a school night!
Such is the scenario surrounding my latest weekly ride. We started on the same gravel road that we always start on, but instead of ducking onto familiar singletrack, we kept pedaling gravel, climbing far beyond our typical stomping grounds into the upper reaches of the forest. It was a brutal, 1,000-foot grind of a climb into a ridge of steep slopes. We picked up a faint trail just shy of the gap, and immediately started dropping elevation, first through a rhodo tunnel, then slaloming through big stands of trees. The trail gets ridden so infrequently, it was barely even singletrack. At times we lost it altogether in the leaves and underbrush, only to find it again 10 yards downslope. Before too long, the trail got too steep for us to ride as it traced the fall line straight down the side of the mountain. We hopped off our bikes and slipped every third step as the trail took an impossible line over downed trees that have been turned into huge kickers with landing zones that leave no room for error. Then the optional boulder drops began.
Big, freaking boulder drops.
The trail is nothing like anything else we ride in the forest, and honestly, we were only good enough to ride a tiny piece of it. But it felt good to be on new dirt, laughing and falling in foreign land. It felt like an adventure. On a Wednesday. After work.
Inspired by conquering new territory, we hit up a different post-ride bar. A place that puts French-fries right on their sandwiches. I even ordered a new type of beer.
– Graham Averill is a regular contributor to B.R.O. In between cleaning up spilled drinks and putting kids to bed, he enjoys mountain biking, drinking beer, and maintaining his personal blog Daddy Drinks.