Monday, 18 April 2011

Clarity at 100ft

Precariously stood on ladders, in a metal basket 100ft above New York's East 42nd St gives great moments of clarity. Desperately hoping this craziness would increase my fear threshold, I tweak my camera - all in the name of movie magic, and allow my mind to wander. Stuck in this concrete jungle for a few weeks and I'm already desperately missing Norcal and it's lovely sunshine, illuminating miles and miles of beautiful outdoor goodness. I realise I'm no longer a city type. I always thought I was. But even in one of the most vibrant cities in the world, I feel a bit caged. This change in make up has come about because of mountain biking.

As another gust of wind hits the crane I'm balanced in and primal fear punches me in the gizzards, I distract myself by thinking about other ways that mountain biking has changed my life. I used to mock and scoff at friends who would spend hundreds, thousands on bikes. Last year I happily bought a ride that cost more than my first car. Why? Because the amount of joy (not to mention health) it brings is priceless. I also used to question why my riding friends "needed" several bikes. I now own 3 and could easily add another 2 to the stable (a 29er carbon hardtail and DJ bike in case you wondered.) But adding material possessions isn't life changing. It's not important (although you need at least ONE ride to partake.) What has been significant is how this sport has enriched relations with my fellow man. I can now indulge in this hobby with those mates that I used to mock. I've met their riding buddies and made friends of those people too. I've also introduced a few dudes to the sport and seen them go through the natural, and rapid, progression from idle curiosity to out and out grinning obsession with the dirt! Plus, MTB types tend to be good people. So, meeting people on the trail often leads to shared rides, then shared beers and another friendship cemented. Great stuff. All this, and you get to spend quality hours observing nature at it's very best.

But, as much as this wonderful sport gives, it also takes away. Aside from the blood, sweat and dollards, it can give a short sharp reminder that it's no cake walk. Respect is due and each ride is a fine line between grinning lunacy and a trip to ER. As poor Chris found out racing this year's DH course at Sea Otter. A quick spillage and broken collar bone later and it's a lengthy spell out of the saddle for him. Get well soon Chris. By the time you're well I'll be out of NYC and ready to share the dirt again :o)

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