Ah yes, feel that Autumn crisp!  Listen to the leaves crackle and swish!  Fall-time riding is upon us, and it is magnificent.  The temps are mild, the sun is still shining, and the colors are outrageous.  I used to detest this time of year because it meant I was back in school, stuck under fluorescent lights for seemingly-endless hours.  Many years, and some hard-earned freedom from academia later, I have a lovely ability to ride on my own whim and pleasure.  The recent purchase of a new bike and some actual Cross Country riding gear means my time out hammering the ups and downs are much more enjoyable.  I am in the best shape of my life and I’m am totally killing it on Strava (KOM KILLER!!!!).  

It’s been a Summer and Fall of “back to basics” riding, with less of a focus on racing, and stronger emphasis on just getting out on the trails and rediscovering the love of riding just for the sake of the adventure and fun of it all.  The element of competition is still found within myself, that will never change – but suffering up climbs with your friends busting your balls, and then blasting the descents with the echos of pure bliss resounding through the foliage; the unmistakable sound of nobs clawing at the ground begging for traction, the squeal of over-burdened 6-inch rotors, and the shit-taking of the lead rider and the follower(s) – it clears the mental haze and provides clarity. 

Gone Riding; out refocusing and finding perspective. 

This is what had been missing from my life, the essence of what made me fall in love with this sport as a kid, and what fueled my desire to get outside everyday as a hyper-active teen.  As an adult, it is easy to lose or temporarily forget the zeal for riding through the mundane routine called work (or whatever other obligations might be blocking one’s path).  To reignite and further stoke the flame, it took lamaze-esque breathing techniques on climbs, tunnel vision on recovery segments, and the Battle of Endor effects of the burred downhills to realign my focus.  I needed to be reminded of what I had been missing.  Through pounds shed, personal bests on Strava, and the camaraderie of my buddies on evening rides, I got back to my roots and found a rejuvenated passion for my one most-favorite activity, riding my bike in the woods.