In the Saddle: Primal scream therapy at work
Mountain biking has become primal scream therapy for me ever since I got clipless pedals.There’s nothing worse than slowly keeling over in the saddle, feet stuck to the bike because I’m not used to clicking out.I yawp like a man sliding down a sheer cliff or shriek like a scared little girl spying something icky.”You OK back there?” my friend Devon yelled back from far ahead on a recent ride.”Yup,” I said. “Just wrestling with my demons.”But sticking to the pedals has added a few pistons to my climbing, and the challenge of getting used to the awkward new setup helps me get in touch with that primal element of the sport.When I start out on most rides, I often wonder what the hell I’m doing – or whether I want to climb up whatever confounded hill I’m on.But – once I clear out my lungs on that first huffy-puffy steep, drop the bike a few times, get soaked in a stream crossing and am covered in flecks of mud – I get downright “Lord of the Flies” about the whole business.And it somehow helped that on a recent late-afternoon ride up Snowmass, Devon and I pedaled into the heart of an approaching thunderstorm, the two of us like rolling antennas on the high, exposed pastures of Government Trail. With a bit of static in the air and bolts of lightning dropping all around us, I got to thinking about turning around, but Devon wanted to press on.On another ride with my friend Gerry, we zipped through a maze of baby-head stones along the Plunge trail above Hunter Creek, or my pulse races on the bone-jarring “Rock Garden” stretch of Government Trail – one side a sheer drip – I realized something important about mountain biking: You can’t have any fun without a little danger.
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