Trail Runner Buys a Bike

Once upon a time, I was a mountain biker. It was mostly back in the mountain biking boom of the 90s, but like most things I do, I got out of it later than most. Late to the party, late to leave – that’s me, over and over again all my life.

My wife started running before I did, and she kinda dragged me into it. That’s surprising to a lot of people nowadays, because she doesn’t run anymore, and she never got into marathons or ultramarathons like I did. But it’s true. And when I say she “dragged” me into it, I mean it’s because I was resistant to the idea for a long time because I still thought of myself as a mountain biker. This in spite of the fact that I was barely riding at the time, and had done little to no riding for many years.

She found a race that appealed to me, I ran it, and I got into running – far more than I ever had done mountain biking. And for the best part of the decade that followed, I was all in on running and loved it. But the Covid lockdowns and outbreaks of 2020 kind of broke it for me (along with many other things for me). I did good keeping up my running for quite a few months, but as summer turned into fall that year, I started losing focus and began trailing off, and as fall turned into winter (and due to the sociopolitical craziness of the time), I not only stopped running, I also stopped nearly everything and became very withdrawn and depressed.

I knew there had been a big biking boom in 2020, and given that I had some history with mountain biking, I decided I should give it a shot. I desperately needed a change of pace, and I thought getting back on a bike might be the ticket.

I won’t detail the process of shopping for a bike in early 2021, but it was challenging. If you know, you know. The price range I was looking at was the same price everybody else was looking at, too, and there was very little in stock anywhere, whether local or online. But eventually I ended up with a bike and went out to my old stomping grounds at McDowell Mountain Park to ride the Pemberton trail.

I’ve been on Pemberton on foot quite a few times over the course of the last six-ish years, so I’m very familiar with it, and I discovered long ago that it had undergone some reroutes from the Pemberton I used to ride back in the 90s. Hitting it on a bike, however, brought back a lot of memories of the way I used to ride it and I was reminded all over again of the differences between my biking memories and my current experience. (And if you are wondering which version I prefer, it’s the current one – it’s less technical than what I remember the old trail being, and for a rider of my meager skill level, it’s more fun.)

So my adventure buddy Jim and I went out and rode it! He was on a new bike as well and we both had fun doing the ride and figuring out the bikes in the process.

So here’s the reason I am telling the story. Having fun was something I had not done in months by that point. Cruising down that descent in the last third of the loop was like a kickstart to a brain that was stalled out in a deep funk, and until it happened out there, I had no idea how much I had needed something like that. 

So this is kind of a note to self, and kind of a note to anyone else who might be in a funk and wanting out of it – think of something that seems like it would be fun – or even something you’ve had a lot of fun doing in the past that you might have left behind – and go do it. I can’t guarantee it’ll work for sure, but it did for me and it might work for you too.