It was one of those days that we sometimes have where the temperature is perfect and you are warm but sweat-free, and the breeze is blowing oxygen from the forests of the Rocky Mountains onto the plains, and the mountains look like they're only blocks away because the breeze has blown the haze away and brought with it the smell of soil and sage.
We had been inside all day, the three of us, and being indoors could no longer be tolerated. A ride had to happen. We weren't really prepared for a ride, but there are times when caution is only for throwing to the wind.
Showing up to for a ride without a pack full of supplies, tools, and inflation gizmos feels weird. Bad stuff happens to all of us on the trail, and so we carry more and more stuff to prevent those long walks back to the car, things such as spare headphones and a welding kit. Wearing denim cutoffs, a t-shirt, and (gasp!) underpants, and water-loading at the car because you don't have a bottle you can carry will make you feel like equal parts rebel and newb. This feeling will in no way be mitigated if you are joined by a real-life newb who's never put tire to trail before, let alone at dusk.
We lowered seatposts, moved some pedals around, and managed to put four bikes together that were functional but by no means "dialed." We did balance the riders/helmets equation.
Ordinarily, I don't like comedy-of-errors stories, and as we left the trailhead I imagined that would be the only kind of story I could write about this ride. "Four Riders Marooned on Green Mountain for Three Days Finally Rescued."
Fortunately, I was wrong. The ride couldn't have been better. It felt more like an adventure than any other ride I've had in years, even when we got a little lost in the dark. We rode like kids ride after dark: aimless and full of enthusiasm.
As it turned out, our newbie had more helpful things to say about mountain biking after one ride than the rest of us combined.
1. Equipment matters. Borrowing a bike that's unfamiliar but up-to-date is going to be far more advantageous than riding a bike that's familiar but fifteen years old.
2. Speed helps even though it's scary.
3. It's damn hard, but well worth it.
4. There was lots of stuff I didn't ride, but I feel like I accomplished so much!
I think I'll be leaving the welding kit at home for awhile.