Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Off Road, and Off the Grid

Sunday, Sept. 14

I’m writing this by candlelight, like our ancestors. This blackout has me roughing it, just like the frontiersmen long before me, or the Amish.
Well, sort of. I am using a laptop powered by a lithium-ion battery. But there is a significant hardship here: If I want Internet, I’ll have to use dial-up! I’m all about rollin’ with a Spartan ethic for a short hang, but I ain’t doing dial-up. I’ll just write this in Word and cut and paste when the power comes back.
It went out around 6 p.m., while I was making tacos.
I think it is quite possible that the cause of the outage is that hell froze over, because I rode a mountain bike for a good long time this afternoon and actually enjoyed it!
I wasn’t good at it, mind you. But I had fun.
There is something incredibly cool about MTB riding at Shaker Lakes and Doan Brook (which should be called Bone Broke, considering the technical difficulty and danger of many of its sections). The coolness is that a beginner like me can pick and choose just how hard I want the experience to be, while an expert could theoretically ride along and do all the sickly stupid, totally wrong things that expert MTB riders like to do, which seem to involve the same sort of self-loathing thought process as driving staples into one's hands, being a cutter or being Eddie Vedder.
In their heavily tatooed misanthropic existence, MTB riders like to talk about "illegal" trails. This description, I’m sure, applies to Doan Brook, because no one is openly invited to ride there.
But the trails down in the gulch along Fairhill, between MLK and Coventry, have all sorts of nastiness: rock gardens, stairs, wicked roots, sharp downhill drops, sharp and impossible uphill climbs.
What they do not have is good flow, for the most part. I'd be surprised if even the best MTB riders could ride very far anywhere on the western or southern slopes of the gorge without dismounting, because the run-ups are too steep and some of the off-camber turns along sheer dropoffs off are too tight.
But there is some fast singletrack on the north side of the gulley, along North Park. Fast as you want, but still a potentially deadly drop along the side of the trail. And since "potentially deadly" seems to be a prerequisite for fun for MTB riders, that must be fun.
In short, you can get your skills practice in, along with some fun. But it’s hard to get a sustained threshold workout.
Not that I need it. That’s what road riding is for.


While I rode, the wind whipped up harder and harder. By the time I was heading home, I was getting pelted with twigs and stopping every block or so to move broken branches off the street. Two hours later, while I was making tacos, the power went out.
This is fun! We still have gas, so I could finish cooking. We have running (clean) water, unlike the Great Blackout of Ought-Three, and unlike my brother, who is condemned to using electrically pumped well water.
My kids have no TV to watch, so they rode their bikes (in the flying debris). They ran the batteries down using all the flashlights as toys over recent months, so we’re using all my bike headlights. Soon we’ll take turns making up stories. Then we’ll go to sleep.
Tomorrow, maybe I’ll go moose hunting.

- JN

1 comment:

Ray Huang said...

Its all fun till you rip your derailleur off.