Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Early summer in the woods - on 29 inch wheels

My life is rather intertwined between fishing and cycling.  Why?  Well, fishing came first.  As a kid, it's all I wanted to do.  All day.  Every day.  We lived in a small, quaint and very rural New England town, so my parents had no issue dropping me at a pond or stream and picking me up later in the day.  My dad jokes he put the first 3000 miles on a new Subaru wagon we had when I was early in my teen years driving me back and forth to a catch and release/fly only tailwater about 30 miles from home.

Well, eventually, my folks got pretty tired of all this driving :) and got me a mountain bike.  I started riding to fishing spots, but then a good buddy and I, well, we realized riding was really dang fun too - in it's own right!

We started riding more, ultimately starting racing.  That process lead me to pursue sports science and ultimately coaching as career paths.  It lead me to many amazing bike races and experiences on road bikes, cyclo-cross bikes and mountain bikes. It lead me to major curiosity regarding endurance sport and human performance overall! I'm skipping a lot of details there for brevity, but you get the idea.  Fishing and bikes for me are integrated into the fiber of who I am, and what I do every day.  They are both, awesome!

With life the past few years, kids being born, busy coaching, child with cancer, child surviving cancer, grad school... well, you can imagine something had to give.  It's been the bike mostly.  I get out some... but not at all as much as I'd like to, or should.

With everyone healthy (knock wood) and school ending in August, I'm excited to be getting on the bike a bit more.  It feels great!

Early this week I got a nice spin at lunch through the local state forest.  The pic above is at the top of a challenging climb.  It's hard to recognize the steepness... it's probably a 35-40% grade for the final 50 yds here after climbing steadier grades of varying technicality to this point.  That's the fun of riding off road... it's meditative.  You dont have a choice.  You are here, now.  Cant think about what you just did.  Cant think about what's to far ahead.  It's a beautiful thing... just like fly fishing.

Further along, after some rocky descending, you parallel the hill's north east side.  It's a well worn trail that I've ridden, or trail run many times over the 16 years we have lived here.  Occasionally Ill bump into a deer... or another person out enjoying the trails.

A few trails come together here.  I'd just ridden through this area, and the pic is looking back.  I always think of a friend who some how survived a very substantial "super man" flight over the handlebars coming down the steep hill, out of frame to the right.  No idea how he didnt get hurt!  None whatsoever!  My technical riding skills are rusty, but all those years of racing burned in the motor patterns needed.  I dont have the engine size I once did, but with just a few rides, I can work into the performance template my mind has established, find those dusty motor patterns and use them to make due... nah, use them to enjoy the heck out of a ride in the woods!

After passing that last intersection... you get into a nice laurel swamp.  My wife and I were serenaded by a pack of coyotes one night about 10 years ago here - probably only 50-100yds away in the laurels.  This spot is wet almost every year - sometimes with a foot of water or more in spots.  This year, we are 4.5" low on water for the year, and the terrain reflects it... more dust, than mud.

But, you can see one of the great attractions of riding here this time of year...

The state forest has a big laurel population and it's blooming right now.  The flowers are amazing.  In some areas they make the woods look as if they were covered in a light snow!

It's hard not to stop now and then just to take it in.

Cycling may not seem, at first glance, like a trip to a small stream to chase wild trout... But at least for me, the two are undeniably linked.  And for good reason.

They both bring a level of wellness to me, that, I can fully admit... Is addictive in the most positive way which one could use the word.

Enjoy the outside today... on two wheels, or two feet... whichever brings that higher level of wellness to you!



  1. Will what a place to ride, but for me it would be a walk.
    The laurel is beautiful. Great time to be out.

  2. All about being there and enjoying it Alan - however you get to be there :)

  3. By the way great camera?

    1. Sort of Alan. I killed my old Android phone fishing in early April when we got several inches of snow. I fished a nice area and got some ok pic's, but, then my old phone went on the fritz - condensation had formed inside it while in my pocket. I was up for a new phone and ended up with a Android S7. It's water resistant (could survive a dunking) and the camera is a definite upgrade. That's what Ive been using.

  4. Just found your blog. Glad to hear that the family is healthy!

    1. Me too :)! Thanks for checking out the blog. I love the blog you all have put together - it's been fun to read given many of the locations are spots I fish as well! Keep well